Eurotwin Powers activate! Form of: stifling defensive play!
Another Coyotes game, another hard-fought battle. They're almost good enough to become something of a burgeoning rival. Whatever it is, the 'Yotes play the Red Wings tight. This time Detroit was able to overcome their defensive miscues after giving up a lead and come back for an OT game winner off Henrik Zetterberg's stick.
The Wings outshot the Coyotes 41-30 in what was something of a wide-open game where both teams saw ample scoring opportunities. Neither power play was able to register a goal on the game's seven total opportunities (4-Det, 3-Phx). Even better, tonight marked the return of right-shooting defenseman and exemplary puck-mover Brian Rafalski to the lineup. Raffi only played 15:18 of ice time, but popped back onto the scene with an assist on Dan Cleary's goal 1:40 into the game.
Howard stopped 29 of 31 and I don't think either goal was weak. His team let the Coyotes get off more shots than I was comfortable with and came up big three times. Aside from that, his rebound-or-hold-onto-the-puck decision making was outsanding with Phoenix players buzzing the net (twice, buzzing too close as Phoenix's Lee Stempniak took two penalties for goaltender interference). His rating on the night was +3.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump.The Goals
1st Period 1:40 - Detroit Goal: Dan Cleary (slap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Mike Modano
This play starts with a simple clear out of the Detroit end through center ice. Justin Abdelkader forechecks well and makes Oliver Ekman-Larsson retrieve under pressure. The Phoenix defender tries to throw around behind the net to his defense partner, but the puck takes an angle off the back boards to the backside of the net where Mike Modano collects it and skates around the boards. He finds Rafalski coming on and sets him up for a one-timer that may or may not have been intentionally wide. The puck rings off the end boards and right out front to Dan Cleary on the back door, who slaps it home. Justin Abdelkader will earn a half-assist on this play for forcing the play so well.
1st Period 19:05 - Phoenix Goal: Martin Hanzal (wrist shot) from Derek Morris
Another last-minute goal for the opposition here. Datsyuk loses a faceoff clean to Hanzal, who gets it to Derek Morris. Hanzal immediately goes to the front of the net and Morris takes a quick look before directing a slapshot unquestionably intentionally wide that comes off the boards behind Jimmy Howard and onto Hanzal's stick for the tap-in. There are a couple of failures on this play by Pavel Datsyuk which will earn him an extra minus. He loses the faceoff cleanly and then loses body position on Hanzal, neither successfully tying him or his stick up. The rest of his teammates are doing their jobs when this goal is scored. Lidstrom, Cleary, Stuart, and Zetterberg will not receive minuses.
2nd Period 7:31 - Phoenix Goal: Keith Yandle (slap shot) from Lauri Korpikoski
Play starts in the Phoenix zone, where the Wings are putting on decent pressure. Stuart carries the puck low on a pinch where he passes to Zetterberg, who loses the puck to Korpikoski. Lauri carries the puck up ice and tries to get a shot off that's knocked off his stick by Datsyuk playing defense. Unfortunately, the puck rolls across the center of the ice and right to Yandle's stick as he joins the play. Yandle gets it short side by Howard before he can move into position to stop the puck. This doesn't look like an odd-man rush, but it is. Datsyuk and Rafalski will not receive minuses on this play. They were the two players in position and both did their jobs very well. Datsyuk even stopped a much better scoring chance, but had bad enough puck-luck on the play for the biscuit to have landed directly on a Phoenix player's stick. Zetterberg and Stuart don't get back quickly enough to pick up Yandle coming in late and Holmstrom stops skating in the neutral zone. Each of those three will keep their minuses.
3rd Period 7:24 - Detroit Goal: Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) from Brad Stuart and Pavel Datsyuk
Again, Abdelkader's aggressive forechecking makes the Phoenix defense get rid of the puck quickly by throwing it around the boards. Datsyuk intercepts at the half-boards and muscles off two defenders long enough to get the puck to Brad Stuart. Stuart moves it over to Lidstrom, who lines up a slap shot from the blue line and forces it by Bryzgalov. Abdelkader and Datsyuk will each earn half-pluses for making this play happen. I toyed with giving Franzen bonus points here, but the replay shows he was not screening Bryzgalov on the play.
Overtime 1:23 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (tip in) from Ruslan Salei and Todd Bertuzzi
The Wings get control of the puck in the Phoenix zone on the four-on-four; after a decent scoring chance, Zetterberg picks up the puck in the corner and carries around behind the net where his hustle forces Oliver Ekman-Larsson to hold him for a delayed penalty. Zetterberg recognizes this and moves back around behind Bryzgalov to the other side where he finds Todd Bertuzzi streaking off the Wings' bench for the extra skater. Bertuzzi immediately snaps a pass to Ruslan Salei on the far side. Salei walks in closer and waits long enough for Zetterberg to again beat Ekman-Larsson to the front of the net. Salei releases a low slap-pass directly to Hank's stick and he redirects through Bryzgalov for the OT game-winner. Zetterberg gets a full bonus-plus for taking his defender to school on this play two times. Salei earns a half-plus for the patience he shows in waiting for the play to develop. If he shoots immediately from there, he likely wastes the opportunity.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg: Both started the game off slowly, at one point making me wonder if the two consecutive games on the receiving end of big hits had taken its toll on Datsyuk. Fortunately, these guys took the game over in the later stages and helped Detroit earn this victory
+1 to Dan Cleary: 5 shots on goal, the game-opening tally, and 18:40 of total ice time for third-highest behind only Datsyuk and Zetterberg for TOI among forwards. Cleary was a force on the ice all night. He's been red-hot the last few games and that continued throughout this one.
-0.5 to Tomas Holmstrom: Cleary got his extra ice time because Holmstrom squandered his. He ended the game in Uncle Mike's doghouse and with just over twelve minutes played. He was not particularly good in any zone or in front of the net.
-1 to Niklas Kronwall: Just seven seconds into a Detroit power play in the second period, Kronwall fails to keep the puck in and, when Vernon Fiddler threatens to step around him with speed, Kronner sticks his hip out to interfere. Fiddler tries to sell it as a much worse type of hit than it was, but it's undeniable that it's a stupid offensive zone penalty to take.
Honorable Mentions: I think the play of Filppula and Ericsson were once again good. The former was moving with more speed than he had in a few games and the latter was just solid on the blueline again, actually using his size a few times to deliver hits. Also, I thought this was Hudler's best game since returning from his benching. His hustle was great, now he just needs to put up points. I don't think any of these players had good enough showings to earn them bonus ratings, but they do deserve some recognition at least.
Next game is Thursday against the Oilers. Hopefully a better-rested Wings team can show up for the first period here.