In the pregame, I called this as close to a big game as the conference-leading Wings might have had to this point of the season and they handed away a lead late and lost in overtime. I won't go back and say this loss doesn't mean anything or that it's all ok. I'm very angry with the way the Wings allowed a very dangerous Stars team to hang around and wait for a mistake instead of finishing the club in the third period. This doesn't spell the end of the Wings' chances or work as a hint that they should be making vacation plans in May, but it does mean they have things to work on.
The Wings managed to get outshot by the Stars thanks to a 3-0 overtime advantage, which was aided by an overtime penalty drawn by Mike Ribeiro. The Wings killed off that penalty, plus four others on their way to a 5-for-6 performance on the penalty kill. Meanwhile, the power play connected on the first of their three opportunities. This was another night where the Wings took more penalties than their opposition, which may be a trend of its own or may be indicative of the lack of effort or focus about which many fans have been complaining. Either way, they managed to lose a very winnable game. I'm not comforted by a point.
Chris Osgood gave up two tipped goals, a five-hole goal to a guy left all alone out front, and a near-side snap shot from perhaps the Stars' best pure shooter. He didn't play poorly, but he once again had a chance to grab a victory and didn't. His defense is more to blame, but that happens in a majority of losses. He made two big saves, but I'm going to cut his rating down to +1.
Scoring and plus/minus adjustments after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 3:42 - Detroit Goal (PP): Pavel Datsyuk (backhand) from Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen
The Wings are on an early power play here as Holmstrom draws an interference penalty on Stephane Robidas. Late in the power play,t he Wings gain the zone with speed as Kronwall takes it through the neutral zone and, instead of automatically dealing to Datsyuk behind him, actually takes it forward and finds Franzen moving in on the boards. Franzen tries to saucer a pass to Holmstrom, but he's set upon by two Stars. Datsyuk is by now on the far side of the play and picks up the puck that gets through. He moves into the open area to Raycroft's left and shovels a backhand that hits Nick Grossman in front and deflects past Raycroft. Holmstrom picks up a plus here for drawing the penalty while Kronwall gets an assist.
1st Period 12:25 - Detroit Goal: Patrick Eaves (wrist shot) from Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula
Abdelkader dumps the puck in and Eaves goes low to pressure the carrier. A pass attempt by Tom Wandell behind the net is blocked by the ref. The second attempt is picked off by Valtteri Filppula, who moves the puck to Kronwall at the point. He moves with the puck to the center of the ice and fires through traffic. Raycroft stops the first shot, but kicks the rebound into the slot where Eaves picks it up and puts it past the Dallas goalie. I'm going to give Eaves and Filppula bonus half-pluses here and I wish I could give them more, but I can't separate what part of that play was their hard work and what part of it was the ref getting in the way.
1st Period 13:56 - Dallas Goal: Brad Richards (slap shot) from Loui Eriksson and Jeff Woywitka
The next shift after the Eaves goal, Dallas puts a lot of pressure on the Red Wings, at one point keeping them pinned in their own zone for 47 seconds. The Wings had a couple of clearing attempts during this time, but a weird bounce and a communication error break those up. Finally, Datsyuk takes the puck away from Woywitka and starts up ice on the most-gassed breakaway ever. By the time he reaches Raycroft, Datsyuk has fallen asleep and throws a weak-changeup wide that Woywitka gets to Eriksson heading the other way. Loui crosses into the Wings' zone as they're changing and feeds Richards back at the blue line. Richards steps to the middle and releases a shot aimed intentionally wide at Eriksson and Stuart as they head toward the net. The bounce favors Dallas as the puck goes off Stuart's skate into the net. On this play, Zetterberg, Lidstrom and Stuart keep their minuses for their positioning on the play, but Cleary, and Bertuzzi get minuses cleared for the play being out of their hands. Instead, Datsyuk and Holmstrom will get minuses. These two are responsible for the long shift staying in the zone so long and Datsyuk fored a lazy shot wide that led to a rush the other way while his teammates were trying to adjust behind him.
1st Period 17:57 - Dallas Goal (PP): Brenden Morrow (tip in) from Trevor Daley and Loui Eriksson
Dallas has a power play here because Holmstrom blatantly hooks a guy at center ice. Bad penalty to take for Homer, so he'll get a minus. On the power play, a cross-ice dump misses its target and Kronwall picks up the puck. Instead of the safer play of the high dump around the boards, Kronner tries to get it to Helm in front of him. The pass is partially blocked and trickles to Daley on the blue line, who fires a slap shot that tips off of Morrow's stick directly in front and over Osgood's glove to the top corner. Kronwall turned over a safe clearing attempt, he gets a minus.
Penalty Adjustments: The last minute of the first period sees three more penalty called: holding on Bertuzi and Robidas, and holding the stick on Zetterberg. Both Wings calls were bad plays by the respective players, with both of them taking place in the offensive zone. The Robidas penalty that sandwiched them was a result of some great hustle by both Helm and LIdstrom while on the penalty kill. As a result of these plays, Bertuzzi and Zetterberg each get a minus, while Helm gets a plus and Lidstrom a half-plus.
Penalty Adjustments: The second period is pretty much a back-and-forth affair, but before the goal, there were a couple of penalties. The first one was on the Stars and involved Daley taking Cleary down in open ice. More of a dumb play by Daley away from the puck than anything else. After the Stars kill that penalty, Franzen takes two for an overhanded chop that breaks Daley's stick in the corner. I'll usually give guys a break on a stick slash, but the force of this one and how obvious a slash it was means that Franzen gets a minus.
2nd Period 19:43 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (snap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk
Late in the period, the Wings are pressing hard to get the go-ahead goal. Brian Rafalski gets this play started with a laser pass to Pavel Datsyuk that moves from behind Chris Osgood's goal to the blue line which hits him in stride and doesn't make a sound as it hits Pavel's blade. This is simply an amazing pass-and-receipt by these two. After Datsyuk dangles in his corner, he throws it to the far side for Ericsson, who tries a tip in that misses and wraps around the board. Datsyuk hustles to get it away from Fistric and chucks it into the middle where Rafalski controls it in front of himself for Franzen to pick up immediately and snap over Raycroft's shoulder as Homer screens in front. Naturally, Homer gets the screener's assist on this play. Rafalski will get a bonus half-assist and half-plus for his play while Datsyuk gets a bonus half-assist and a full plus for his.
3rd Period 16:46 - Dallas Goal: Brenden Morrow (backhand) from Jamie Benn
After the teams trade penalties that aren't worthy of adjustments in the period, Dallas pours the pressure on in the Detroit zone, pinning them deep for another lengthy shift. The positioning is pretty sound throughout the shift, but the length wears them into a mistake. This happens when the puck gets on Rafalski's stick in front and he blindly throws the puck straight to Jamie Benn while the Wings are trying to clear. Benn quickly turns it back around and gets to Morrow in front of Osgood all alone. While Osgood tries to move to adjust to Morrow, he slides a tricky backhanded shot underneath the experienced goalie. Everybody keeps their minuses here, but Rafalski gets an extra minus for his turnover.
Penalty Adjustment: In the overtime period, the Stars are putting on good pressure in the zone when Ribeiro gets it and walks toward the middle. Rafalski gets beaten and hooks Ribeiro while Franzen comes in to help. There's definitely a hook taking place when Ribeiro takes a dive, so Rafalski will get a minus for allowing the slick-skating-diver Mickey Ribs to draw one on him.
Overtime 4:18 - Dallas Goal: Loui Eriksson (snap shot) from Jamie Benn
After the Wings kill off the OT penalty, they create a chance of their own, as Rafalski brings the puck in deep. He has the puck taken from him, but Zetterberg is there to intercept the wrap-around pass and he steps in front to try to jam the puck home. Raycroft has the bottom of the net covered though and, as Z and Rafalski look for the rebound with Franzen sneaking in as well, Benn slaps the puck to the side of the zone where it bounces off the boards to Eriksson to start a 3-on-1 rush the other way. Rafalski skates hard to catch up while Kronwall tries cutting off the passes, but it never comes to that as Eriksson fires a wrister over Osgood's blocker and in for the game-winner. Originally, a lot of my rage focused on Rafalski here, but watching the play develop, I'm significantly more angry with Franzen. When Mule passed to Rafalski entering the zone, they switched positions with Raffi now becoming the forward and Franzen the defender. They had not switched back when Benn beat a pinching Franzen with his clear out front. Rafalski is still going to keep his minus on this play, but Franzen gets the extra one. Zetterberg and Kronwall do not receive minuses.
+1 for Darren Helm: His speed was back and dangerous in this game. I was very happy with the way he played.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: he was a force throughout much of the game and his official minus-2 rating doesn't do his effort justice. He had a good game with his new linemates.
+1 to Todd Bertuzzi: I thought Bert had a very solid game aside from the stupid holding penalty that earned him a minus. He threw the body around and created plenty of chances.
-1 to Brian Rafalski: This was absolutely his worst game of the season and the bonus minuses he took elsewhere don't really do justice to how poorly he handled pressure in his own zone. I'm sincerely hoping this was a brain fart on his end because that was one of those nights that flat out worry one when it comes time to look at Rafalski's $6M salary. He's a great puck-mover, but when he's turning the puck over like in this game, that liability more than makes up for the good he brings.
Honorable Mentions: Datsyuk looked a bit human at times in his own zone. He wasn't bad or anything, but his usual plus-earning-machine self did not play up to that standard. Stuart, Salei, and Ericsson made a few good plays each, but were not exactly their usual quiet-but-effective selves.
Wednesday we face Vancouver. Detroit needs a good game.