Detroit went into Los Angeles Saturday after being called out by their coach for needing to make the conscious decision whether to be winners or not. After a good start to the game, a shorthanded goal by a very good skater on some bad puck luck for the Wings would bring that question to the forefront. With another chance to try to define themselves, the Wings buckled down, evened it up, and then went on to dominate play the rest of the way to earning a 4-1 victory.
The Red Wings power play stayed hot from their 2/3 performance in San Jose on Thursday, netting goals on two of first three chances. They cooled to a 40% on the night in going 2/5 overall and continuing to look much more dangerous than the squad that people saw on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the defining power play of the game very likely came when it was already 4-1. The refs gave the Kings an extended 5-on-3 opportunity which Jimmy Howard and his penalty killers were able to defeat impressively while holding the Kings' man advantage completely off the board.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 06:37 - Los Angeles Goal (SH): Mike Richards (wrist shot) unassisted.
Zetterberg wins the initial faceoff on the power play in the Wings zone, but Stoll pushes through and forces Cleary to make a strong pass back to the point. The puck goes between both of the point men. Hudler goes to chase, but he's beaten to the puck by Richards, who dekes Howard to his forehand and then slides the puck under him the other way for the goal. Hudler cannot let his man get to the puck and get an uncontested shot on net. This failure will earn Hudler an extra coverage minus. Zetterberg and Cleary will keep their minuses for letting Stoll force the puck out of the zone like this. Filppula and Kronwall will be cleared of their minuses.
1st Period 07:14 - Detroit Goal (PP): Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom
The Penalty - Justin Williams (tripping): This penalty is caused by Datsyuk doing some great stickhandling work in the neutral zone to beat three Kings players trying to get it away from him. Williams trips him up and Datsyuk gets a plus.
On the power play, Detroit stacks two on the wing as Homer and Franzen combine for a hook-and-ladder play for a carry into the zone. Franzen pulls toward the center of the ice from the right wing and takes a shot attempt which is blocked by Willie Mitchell off the boards on the other side and into the opposite dot. Franzen follows his momentum through and battles Dustin Brown to poke it back to Lidstrom at the point. While Franzen and Brown tie each other up on the half-boards, Lidstrom walks to the center of the point and puts a slapper into the traffic in front. The puck hits Holmstrom and bounces back out in front. Datsyuk is cutting through and jams a backhander back into traffic which trickles thorough to tie it. Franzen will get the third assist on this play for his good work low in the zone. Taking it to the middle creates havoc and allowing himself to stay tied up with Brown makes this a 4-on-3.
1st Period Penalty Adjustment: Todd Bertuzzi (8:40) - Ericsson and Justin Williams battle for a puck behind the Wings' net that Kopitar gets to and threatens to bring out. Bertuzzi is chasing Kopitar, but loses is balance and jams his stick into Kopitar's skate, bringing him down. Bertuzzi will get a minus.
1st Period Penalty Adjustment: Andrei Loktionov (11:53) - Detroit gets the puck low into the Kings' zone while both teams change. Hudler does a good job shielding the puck from Jack Johnson in the corner to buy enough time to get Justin Abdelkader onto the ice and into the play. Here, the two of them battle for it. The puck gets pushed behind the Los Angeles net and Abdelkader skates to chase it. Here, Loktionov decides that instead of chasing the puck, he will skate into Abdelkader's path. It's primarily a mistake by the youngster, but I feel Abdelkader and Hudler each deserve a half-plus for their hard work to make this play happen.
2nd Period Penalty Adjustment: Pavel Datsyuk (1:47) - Brad Richardson carries the puck around the Wings' zone being hounded by Datsyuk. After fanning on a shot, the Wings take possession and Datsyuk goes to the box for hooking. I don't know precisely when the center ice ref raised his hand. I worry that he actually called a hook when Richardson fanned on the shot, but watching the replay, there is a point in here where Datsyuk gets his stick parallel and holds up the guy. Datsyuk will get a minus.
2nd Period 07:08 - Detroit Goal (PP): Niklas Kronwall (tip in) from Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen
The Penalty - Rob Scuderi (slashing): The Wings put on good pressure with the Filppula-Zetterberg-Cleary line. Z and Cleary combine to isolate Rob Scuderi behind the net while Zetterberg brings it around front for a scoring chance. Scuderi chops Z on the hands and takes a penalty. Zetterberg and Cleary will share credit and each will get a half-plus for drawing this one.
After the Wings get set in the zone, Datsyuk carries to the top of the zone on the power play and passes to Kronwall, who skates to the side of the point, turning the umbrella. Kronner passes to Lidstrom on the half-boards, who passes to Franzen coming out from around behind the net. Franzen goes to the corner where Doughty makes a play on him. From here, Mule goes to Holmstrom standing behind the net. The pass gets under Mitchell's long-ass stick and Homer skates it toward the line to gain a position where he can pass it in front. While Mitchell tries to regain position and Kopitar skates into the faceoff circle to cover Datsyuk pressing down on the wing, Homer threads a pass right out front where Niklas Kronwall has jumped into the middle and is completely uncovered. Kronwall doesn't waste any time tipping it past Quick for the eventual game-winner. This is a good power play setup which involves every man at one point and works hard to move the PKers out of position. Datsyuk and Lidstrom will each pick up a half-assist on the play for their involvement. I don't feel there was a way to skip a player in this sequence and still get the same result.
Penalty (Shot) Adjustment: about 11 minutes into the 2nd, the Kings break out of their zone on a bit of a nothing play. Unfortunately, it becomes something when both Red Wings d-men find themselves on the same side of the ice and leave Kopitar alone for a breakaway. Brad Stuart gets back and tries a diving sweep, which earns Kopitar a penalty shot which Howard saves authoritatively. The penalty shot call was soft, but the position which led to it even being a possibility was a mistake shared by both Stuart and Kronwall, who will each earn a half-minus on the penalty.
2nd Period 15:38 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (wrist shot) from Brendan Smith and Jonathan Ericsson
With six seconds to go in a Brendan Smith penalty, Datsyuk wins a center ice faceoff back and then slyly takes position on Brad Richardson which allows Jonathan Ericsson the room he needs to skate into his own zone and retrieve the puck. Ericsson carries all the way into his own corner before turning back and chipping a clearing pass over Richardson's stick and past a pinching Andrei Loktionov. Abdelkader gets to the puck first while Scuderi tries to pinch. In the time it's taken this to happen, the penalty has expired and Brendan Smith has stepped out of the box to rejoin the play. Abby pokes it past Scuderi for the clear. Smith is in the perfect spot to get this puck and realizes Abby has all the speed. He sets the puck up for Abdelkader to skate into and joins the rush on the wing for a 2-on-1 against Willie Mitchel. Abdelkader uses the decoy well and skates in on an angle to Quick to give him plenty of options to force inside or outside while Mitchell is giving him that ice. Finally, from just inside the top of the circle, Abby fires a wrister through the five-hole. I'm going to add an assist to Pavel Datsyuk on this play for both winning the faceoff and buying Ericsson time by establishing position in front of Richardson. Datsyuk and Ericsson will also pick up bonus half-pluses for what really is good defensive work late on this PK to produce this opportunity.
2nd Period Penalty Adjustment: Mike Richards (18:54) - This is certainly a hook, but I have to adjust this one for lots of players. The Red Wings enter the Kings' zone at 17:31. By this time, Mike Richards has already been on the ice for 33 seconds. The Wings spend the next 1:23 with the puck either in the Kings' zone or on the wrong side of center to allow a change. Darren Helm is the recipient of the hook, but it's really pressure put on by two lines which forced the Kings' forward to take nearly a two-minute shift playing defense most of the way. For their roles in not only cleanly taking the puck away to start the rush back up ice to cycling around and being in good position, I will award a full plus and a half to Darren Helm, as well as full pluses to Nicklas Lidstrom (picking off a centering pass and re-setting the zone), Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Jakub Kindl, and Brad Stuart. Additional half-pluses will go to Jiri Hudler, Pavel Datsyuk, Brendan Smith, and Justin Abdelkader for lesser contributions, but still important ones.
3rd Period 15:06 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (snap shot) from Johan Franzen
The Wings are playing a good trapping style late in the third period. Franzen and Bertuzzi pressure in and Ericsson makes a smart pinch on Simon Gagne at his own blue line. Gagne tries to beat the pressure with a pass across his own blue line, but Franzen picks it up and throws the puck into the corner of the Kings zone to reset the forecheckt. Bertuzzi gets in on Kopitar first in the corner and does a very good job of taking an up-ice angle on him to prevent him from escaping up the boards. With Bert cutting off Kopitar's up-ice option, the Kings' star is forced to turn the other way. Franzen comes in to pressure the other escape route and makes Kopitar try to force a pass through him to escape. This pass hits Franzen's skate and bounces into the no-man's land between Kopitar and Johnson on the boards and Slava Voynov standing to the inside. Pavel Datsyuk gets to the puck first and quickly utilizes his quick hands to bring the puck to his forehand from a one-arm reaching position and fires it through Quick for his second goal of the day. Bertuzzi will pick up both a non-touch assist and a bonus plus while Franzen will also get a bonus plus. for the pressure which leads this puck out front. Jonathan Ericsson's pressure at the blue line to create the turnover which led to the puck being moved back in was a smart move. Ericsson will also get a bonus plus.
3rd Period Penalty Adjustment: Justin Abdelkader (15:34) - Abby is forechecking on Colin Fraser and gets his stick into the player's hands. This is an easy call to make and a minus for Abdelkader.
3rd Period Penalty Adjustment: Niklas Kronwall (16:07) - The Kings ring one off the post on the power play and the puck pinballs off a few people before going to Dustin Brown behind the net. Kronwall spins to make a play on him and jams his stick in on the guy pretty hard to take him down. Kronwall will get a minus for this.
2nd Period 13:31 - Brendan Smith (hooking): Smith misses a sweep check on Dustin Brown and lightly touches the guy bringing his stick back up. Brown feels it and goes down. This is a pretty embarrassing dive.
3rd Period 04:41 - Dustin Brown (hi-sticking): Brown gets his stick up on Kindl, but it's not a forced penalty.
+1.5 to Valtteri Filppula, +1 to Henrik Zetterberg & Danny Cleary: I thought these three played excellent defensively in this game. Zetterberg and Cleary were two of the six players who helped shut the door late on the 5-on-3, but Flip had his stuff going all game long at a higher level.
+1.5 to Nicklas Lidstrom, +1 to Pavel Datsyuk, +0.5 to Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson: The other members of the huge kill, each of these players had a defensive game which extended far beyond this small portion of the scoring. Stuart made a few mistakes which he was punished for and another which lowered his rating here. Ericsson had what may have been his best-looking game as a Red Wing (as evidence by his adjusted +4 in this game). Lidstrom was as perfect as ever and Datsyuk once again was skating with the kind of poise that lets you know that if he's going after a puck in the corner, he's the one bringing it out.
+1 to Todd Bertuzzi: I felt he played with very good poise and energy. The penalty he took was predictable and unfortunate, but that doesn't overshadow the fact that he was a wrecking ball who created the kind of space that Datsyuk had been missing during his 12-game goal-scoring drought.
Miller and Emmerton played well again, but I don't feel that they contributed to the point of earning pluses. Also, my wife says that Zetterberg's new moustache style makes him look like a sex offender who's trying to hide his identity. So there's that tidbit for you.
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