Petr Mrazek has taken over as the Red Wings’ starting goaltender this season and has steadily been either one of or the best player Detroit ices. And while the score sheet won’t show that Mrazek factored into the game-winning goal Thursday, anyone watching will remember that it was the 23-year-old netminder who made the Red Wings’ victory happen.
With seven minutes remaining in the contest, Sharks winger Patrick Marleau forced a turnover deep in the Red Wings’ zone which turned into an incredible chance for Joel Ward to give San Jose the lead. Ward, alone in front, made a quick move to beat Mrazek, but the Red Wings goaltender made an incredible stick save that kept the puck out of the net.
After Mrazek’s remarkable save, the Red Wings turned the puck up ice and 12 seconds later Justin Abdelkader blasted home what would stand as the game-winning goal:
Mrazek’s save isn’t quite as great as his jaw-dropping paddle save on Brian Boyle in the 2015 post-season, but it’s incredible that he’s been able to make that kind of ridiculous stop in back-to-back seasons. That the Red Wings went the other way and scored the game-winner is salt in the wound for Ward and the Sharks.
Mrazek’s victory Thursday was his third straight win and he improved his record to 14-8-3 and his numbers to a 2.20 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. Mrazek’s .948 SP at 5-on-5 is the best mark among goaltenders the 26 goaltenders to play 1,000 5-on-5 minutes.
Mrazek has started eight of the past nine games and Howard’s only start game on the second half of a back-to-back. It’s clear Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill prefers the young Mrazek to the veteran Howard. Mrazek is making just $737,500 this season while backup and former Detroit starter Jimmy Howard earns $5.292 million per season for another four years. It’s likely Mrazek will get a significant raise as a restricted free agent at season’s end.