Detroit paid a visit to Denver Colorado to face off against the Avalanche one night after a dominating performance against the Minnesota Wild. A broken ankle forced Dan Cleary out of the lineup in favor of call-up Jan Mursak while Jakub Kindl got to play his second consecutive game thanks to Brian Rafalski being given a day off to rest his old back. To further complicate things against the league's most potent offense, Mike Babcock chose to start a struggling Chris Osgood.
Fortunately, that move paid off and more. The Wings were outshot 49-30 in what very easily could have been turned into a laugher. The Avalanche outskated Detroit, outhustled Detroit, outshot Detroit, and outdove Detroit (by far) on their way to this loss. Special teams made a big difference in this one, as the Wings kept the league's 4th-best power play unit to one goal on seven chances, including stopping them for a 68-second 5-on-3 opportunity in the first. In other news, giving seven chances to the league's 4th-best PP unit is monumentally stupid. Detroit managed to decisively win the other side of the specialty teams battle as well, taking advantage of one of the least effective PK units in the league for all four of their goals coming with the man advantage on six total opportunities.
Chris Osgood let in a soft goal early, causing much of Red Wings Nation to release a collective sigh and a lament about how "here we go again." Fortunately, just like in the St. Louis game, he reacted by waking up and playing like the goalie who had a good chance at winning the 2009 Conn Smythe award. Even better, this was only after goal #2. After the bad goal, Osgood went on to make six big saves while tying his previous career-high for total saves made. This would give him a +5 rating, which I have not given a goalie yet this season. I'm comfortable doing that. I have no doubt that this was the best goaltending performance by a Wings netminder this season and I feel as though his rating was well-earned.
Scoring and plus/minus adjustments after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 3:29 - Colorado Goal: Matt Duchene (wrist shot) from Tomas Fleischmann and Milan Hejduk
The Avs win a faceoff in the Detroit zone which Hejduk takes around behind the net. He tries to feed Fleischmann standing there, and it goes off the side of the net and through Helm's legs. Before Draper or Kronwall can get it, the former Washington Capital does and shoots it on net. Osgood makes the initial stop, but Duchene is there to put home the rebound, as he has gotten position on Eaves. This is a total team defensive breakdown where no mistake is particularly any more egregious than another. Therefore, no scoring adjustment on this play.
1st Period 5:35 - Detroit Goal (PP): Jiri Hudler (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Nicklas Lidstrom
Detroit is on a power play because TJ Galiardi absentmindedly jams his stick into Franzen's leg at Detroit's blue line. This is more lazy stick work than an earned penalty. The youg one deserves more scorn than Franzen does credit. On the powerp lay, the Wings move the puck well in the power play. Hudler receives the puck in the right side and tries to pass it back through a seam for a tip-in by Filppula that barely misses. The puck goes to LIdstrom at the far point, who passes down to Filppula. Flip goes back across to Hudler, who tries to one-time a pass across for a tip-in, this time to Bertuzzi, but the pass hits a skate and goes right back to Jiri. This time, he flings it on net and past Budaj, who was still recovering from going into the butterfly as the reaction to his first move. No scoring adjustment.
1st Period 6:21 - Colorado Goal: TJ Galiardi (wrist shot) from David Jones and Adam Foote
On the next shift, the Avs carry the puck in with speed, allowing Galiardi to get a shot on Osgood that's stopped initially. Stuart clears the rebound up the boards to Zetterberg, but he's cross-checked by Foote before the puck gets there and it's turned over to Jones. Jones passes back to Galiardi, who throws a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that finds its way through Osgood. This is a soft goal and, as a result, no skater receives a minus. Stuart, Salei, Zetterberg, Franzen, and Holmstrom are absolved of their minuses.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): After the soft goal, the Avs earn an opportunity to try to put the Wings away in the opening period. First, Helm takes a tripping call after getting his stick between the legs of a skater. On the ensuing PP, Abdelkader gets sent less than a minute into Helm's penalty for a blatant hook on the hands of Matt Duchene. Both Helm and Abdelkader receive minuses for these avoidable penalties.
1st Period 12:32 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall
After killing off the 5-on-3, Detroit gets the next PP chance when a good board battle won by Franzen and Holmstrom and good hustle by Homer leads to a cross-checking call to JM Liles in the corner. After Zetterberg is chased from the faceoff circle, Franzen ties up his man for Z to grab the puck and move it to Kronwall at the tip of the umbrella before he gets it to Lidstrom on the left side. Captain Nick immediately passes off to Franzen standing in the middle of the ice. Franzen wastes no time ripping a shot past Budaj to tie up the game. Franzen and Zetterberg will each get a half-assist for their good work getting the puck off the faceoff. Homer gets a plus for drawing the penalty. Also, I feel I should not that Homer was in front on this shot, but he wasn't screening Budaj, so he doesn't get another adjustment his way.
Penalty Adjustment: 4:40 into the second period, Mursak gets his first-ever penalty as a Wing, as he trips JM Liles in the Wings' offensive zone. This will earn him a minus.
Penalty Adjustment: 8:38 into the second, the Avs are pressuring in the Wings end (again) and Ericsson takes an interference penalty for a cross-check to the back of Fleischmann. Ericsson gets a minus.
3rd Period 14:37 - Detroit Goal (PP): Nicklas Lidstrom (wrist shot) from Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi
This Wings power play comes because of some great strong forechecking by Mursak in drawing O'Byrne to grab him. The Avs manage to kill of half of this penalty, but Detroit gets it back in and starts a bit of a shooting gallery, starting with a slap shot by Stuart that's blocked to the corner, which he retrieves first. Stuart goes to Hudler, who tries to go back against the grain from behind the net, but has his pass blocked back to him. This time, he passes to Filppula on the boards; Filppula passes to Lidstrom, who waits for an opportunity for a tip-in chance to develop before shooting wide. Stuart gets to the puck first off the miss and pokes it deeper. Under pressure, Bertuzzi passes to Hudler in the corner. Huds finds Lidstrom sneaking into the slot and hits him with a pass which Lidstrom controls and fires past Budaj. Stuart will pick up an assist on this play for his work in setting things up
3rd Period 17:24 - Colorado Goal (PP): Matt Duchene (wrist shot) from Paul Stastny and John-Michael Liles
With Detroit trying to protect their first lead of the night, the Avs put pressure on in the Wings' end culminating in a penalty taken by Kronwall. Winnik absolutely dives to sell this call, but Kronner's had the entire game to get used to the refs calling it like this and he still gets his stick between Winnik's legs. This is a minus for Kronwall. On the power play, Colorado wins the draw; Liles gets a shot blocked that goes to Stastny, who feeds it back to Liles, so he reloads, changes the angle and fires again through traffic on net. Osgood makes the save, but the rebound goes straight to Duchene on the doorstep for the game-tying goal. No adjustment here.
Overtime 3:42 - Detroit Goal (PP): Niklas Kronwall (slap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom
In the OT period, the Avs get a minor scoring chance that's blocked aside and taken by Eaves, who recognizes Helm streaking up ice and chucks it down to the other end for a speedy Helm to negate the icing, leading to attacking time in zone. After some cycling, Helm takes the puck off the boards and skates through a couple of defenders before getting Budaj to completely commit to him skating around one side. Helm carries behind the net, ready to finish the game either by wrap-around or by pass to Eaves in front, but Budaj trips him up to take a penalty. Helm will get a plus for this play and Eaves a half-plus. On the ensuing power play, the Wings gain possession of the zone and begin to cycle around the perimeter with passes between Lidstrom and Kronwall. This happens to give Zetterberg enough time to come all the way across ice to set up the 4-on-3 power play box. Once that's complete, Lidstrom passes to Zetterberg on the side while Kronwall sneaks low. This play doesn't materialize, so Z resets to Lidstrom at the top. This time, Kronwall moves back toward the top while Lidstrom passes to Zetterberg at the side. Immediately after passing it off, Lidstrom skates directly at the net with his stick cocked for a one-timer. This draws the point of the penalty-killing triangle to him and leaves Kronwall room behind him to move down further to receive a Zetterberg pass for a one-timer past Budaj for the game-winning goal. Such a smart play by Lidstrom, who will get a bonus half-assist and also a half-plus for his work creating the space for Kronwall to shoot the puck.
+1 to Darren Helm, +0.5 to Kris Draper, +0.5 to Patrick Eaves: Many times, this line was the only one that was able to create any kind of pressure in the Colorado zone. Except for a bit of a rocky start, which earned them all an official minus-1 rating on the night, I thought they played well enough to cancel that out.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: They may have all been on the power play, but he had a four-point night and played exceedingly well.
+0.5 to Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Stuart: The other two on the ice for the 5-on-3 kill deserve recognition for their great work.
Honorable mentions: Salei, Kronwall, and Kindl had kind of up-and-down games in this one. Salei and Kronwall were both punished for taking bad penalties, so that's why neither go additional minuses. I'm also glad that Bert got another point, but he needs to score a goal soon.