It really was: if you can watch that movie without crying, then you have no soul. I guess in a way, that's kind of like the game tonight. The Dallas Stars came to the Joe less than 24 hours after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Wings should have taken full advantage of a tired, road-weary team. What happened was the Wings allowed the Stars to hang around, and ultimately a few mistakes were the Wings' downfall as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Stars in OT.
The Red Wings opened the first with some jump, getting out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Pavel Datsyuk (on the power play) and Patrick Eaves. Unfortunately, a bad bounce went against the Wings as Brad Richards' shot bounced passed Chris Osgood to make it 2-1, and then the Stars capitalized on a power play of their own to make it 2-2. The first period ended with a flurry of penalties, and the Wings were able to kill off an extended 4-on-3 penalty. The rest of the second was a back and forth affair, and Chris Osgood made a big save late in the period to keep it tied. Johan Franzen scored a Budd Lynch special when he shot a puck under Tomas Holmstrom's arm to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. The Stars took full advantage of a Brian Rafalski giveaway with 3 minutes left in the third period to tie the game at 3. It went to OT, and Rafalski's rough night continued with a penalty for tripping Mike Louganis Ribeiro. The Wings were able to kill that off, but with less than a minute left in OT, Rafalski was caught on a pinch, leading to a 3-on-1 the other way. Loui Eriksson put home the winner, and that was all she wrote.
It's been a few hours since the game ended, and I'm still pretty upset. Follow me after the jump for the bullets.
- First things first: I'm pissed for Chris Osgood. Like everybody else, I wanted him to get his 400th win tonight. Things were set up for it to happen: at home against a team he has beaten more than anyone else (tied with Chicago), behind a team that played poorly in their last outing, and against a team that had played the night before. The Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead, then it all went down the tubes. The first goal was a bad bounce off of Stuart's foot, and that happens (the Wings got a gift themselves when the puck went off Grossman's butt). The second goal may or may not have been tipped, but it's stoppable. The third goal? Rafalski had the awful giveaway to start that play (more on him in a moment), but any time a goal goes in the net along the ice between the goalie's legs, that's one that should have been stopped. The OT goal was a 3-on-1 rush down the ice, but the puck went in short side, and I thought it was another stoppable shot. He had some big saves, and I don't put this loss on Osgood, but he could have come up with a big save late in the game to preserve a win.
- You think Brian Rafalski wishes he could replay the last 5 minutes of regulation and OT? Even Ericsson hasn't been that bad this year. His giveaway directly led to the tying goal, he took a penalty in OT that thankfully was killed off, and then it was his pinch that allowed the odd-man rush to go the other way. I have a number in mind on what his CSSI is going to be (I'm not going to post it now because the CSSI hasn't been posted yet), but it's definitely a negative number. That was probably the worst stretch by a Wing defenseman all year, and if there's a "goat" tonight, it was him.
- You know who was good, though? Johan Franzen. He had a goal and an assist, he was throwing his body around, he had 3 shots on goal, and he was responsible defensively for the most part as well. We called him out around here after the Hawks game, and he responded with a good effort.
- For Christmas, I'm going to get Darren Helm the gift of a finishing touch. He had a great game drawing a penalty and killing penalties, but he had an opportunity to score late in the second period that he could not put home. It seems like he has one of these a night, and if he ever learns how to bury these chances, he's going to develop into a great two-way centerman.
Andrew Raycroft played for the Stars tonight, and he was good, but not great. He made 28 saves, but none of them were of the spectacular variety. I didn't think the Wings really made him work for the victory. At one point in the broadcast, they mentioned that he won the Calder Trophy in 2004 as rookie of the year, and all that did was prove that winning the Calder is not indicative of future success (for further reading see: Jackman, Barret and Myers, Tyler).
That game really made me mad. After they lost to the Hawks, and after a lot of games, I've had the feeling that it just wasn't the Wings night and/or the other team was better. Tonight, this was a very winnable game that the Wings let get away from them. They should have won, and it was their own ineptitude that led to the defeat. They had a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, yet Dallas came back to tie the game. They scored late in the second to take a 3-2 lead going into the third, a lead they held for the first 17 minutes of the period, only to have a bonehead play by Rafalski lead to the tying goal. Then in OT, they took a penalty, and while they killed it off, that was the only good thing they did. They had a grand total of zero shots on goal during the OT, hardly the sign of a team that was gunning for a win. This game reminded me of any number of performances last year, and that's why I'm so angry. The Wings will be looking back at this game at the end of the year and will probably still be kicking themselves for letting a point get away. They still lead the conference by 1 point over the Stars while maintaining that important game-in-hand, but the lead should be 4 points. This one is going to be tough to get over.
The Wings actually get a couple of days off, and they welcome the Canucks to town on Wednesday, followed immediately by a date against the Blues before the Wings enjoy their Christmas break. A couple of wins going into the holiday will make everyone's Christmas a little more joyful.