With a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals (31-15-4), the Detroit Red Wings (31-11-7) extended their losing streak to a season-high five games. Despite the early start, the action was great and the crowd electric at the matinee game.
In his first NHL game after being recalled from Grand Rapids, Finnish forward Ville Leino scored his first career goal and it was quite a beauty. He had the puck to the left of Caps goaltender Jose Theodore. Washington's Shaone Morrisonn went down to the ice preventing Leino from getting off a clean shot or skating further in that lane so he turned around and with his back to Theodore, he slid a beautiful backhander for the opening goal of the game. But describing the goal does not do it justice so if you haven't seen it yet, please check out the YouTube clip below.
The Capitals would take the lead in the second period after Victor Kozlov scored late in the first and Mike Green followed up nearly 18 minutes later. Less than two minutes after Green's goal, Johan Franzen posted a power-play goal to even the game up at two goals apiece.
Washington star Alex Ovechkin finally made his appearance known scoring the remaining two goals of the game including the game-winner with just under six minutes left in the period. The deliriously happy crowd chanted "MVP, MVP" after the performance that boosted the Caps to 2-9-0 in home games against Detroit. While the game was important for both teams, it was a chance for the up-and-coming Caps to measure themselves to the defending Stanley Cup champs.
"It's a huge victory for us," Ovechkin said. "It gives us a lot of confidence. They were missing a couple of players, but it's very important to play an experienced team and this game meant a lot to us."
While I'm obviously disappointed in the loss especially since the Wings tend to pick up their game against a top team, I did really enjoy watching Leino and Justin Abdelkader play on a line alongside Marian Hossa. Leino received 12:20 of ice time over 16 shifts. While Leino had the dazzling stickwork, Abdelkader held his own with his physical play while staying solid defensively. He created numerous scoring chances and you certainly had an easy time noticing him on the ice. He had 13 shifts in 9:25 of ice time. With that time, he took two shots, registered two hits, and won two face offs. I don't like seeing key players such as Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom go down with injuries, but it's exciting to see future Wings succeed on the NHL level.
Head coach Mike Babcock was also impressed by their play and talked to MLive.com's Ansar Khan about their efforts in the game.
"Leino's just a good player,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We know he's got skill. Him and Abby (Justin Abdelkader, who was recalled as well) both played real well for us. It's a good opportunity to evaluate them.
"We still have to get (Darren) Helm and (Jonathan) Ericsson up here. We want to look at them because we want to have our best lineup come playoff time.''
Christy's Red Wing of the Game: Ville Leino
He scored the highlight goal of the game on his first shot in his first NHL game. Not a bad way to start your NHL career.
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The Wings head back to Detroit in time to enjoy the Super Bowl with family and friends before hosting the St. Louis Blues on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.