Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes the bounces work against you.
In the good ol' hockey game, occasionally it comes down to a bounce or fanned shot, and both worked against the Wings late in the third period of their game with the Nashville Predators. A 3-1 lead evaporated and the Preds were able to come back and take 2 points from the Wings in a game in which the Wings played very well.
The Wings got on the board first. Tomas Holmstrom did what he does best by parking himself in front of Pekka Rinne during a Wings power play. After a deflected shot, Holmstrom corralled the puck and put a backhand into the empty net. It was ugly but effective, much like those uniforms for Nashville. The Predators got that one back when the Red Wings completely forgot there was an area in front of their net they need to defend, leaving Craig Smith all alone to feed David Legwand. Jimmy Howard showed us all why he should be on the All-Star ballot by stoning Legwand, but the rebound was easy pickings for Legwand, and it was 1-1.
The Wings' power play struck again midway through the second period. Henrik Zetterberg took a pass from Jiri Hudler, administered the appropriate blood tests on the puck, and then put a shot off the post and in to make it 2-1 Wings. 87 seconds later Nicklas Lidstrom ended a 16 game goal-less streak when his shot eluded Rinne and gave the Wings a 3-1 lead. The Predators would cut that back down to 1 late in the second when Jordin Tootoo came off the bench and scored on a rebound, prompting a wave of the worst sound in an NHL arena since we heard Patrick Kane's post-Cup interview in 2010.
The third period was controlled by the Wings in terms of puck control, but it was the Preds who came ahead when it mattered, getting 2 late goals by Shea Weber, one on the PP and one on a fluke bounce that got past Jimmy Howard, and the Wings were unable to get the equalizer. It marked the first time the Wings lost when scoring at least 3 goals, and that's the end of their 3-game winning streak.
After the jump,
- Exhibit 56 why Pavel Datsyuk is amazing: in the first period, he entered the zone against super-stud Shea Weber, who promptly put Dats on his ass. 10 seconds later, Datsyuk gets the puck again and heads down Weber's side, but this time it's Weber who finds himself looking up at the lights after Pavel threw a shoulder into his chest and knocking him down. We know that this is just good-natured horseplay that those two will see in practice together in a year or two.
- We get down on certain players as Wing fans, but as I said on the podcast, I am officially a Hudler-phile. There was a play in the 2nd where Hudler lost the puck to Craig Smith, but instead of giving up and going to look for a local woman of ill-repute, he stayed with Smith, out-muscled him on the boards and got the puck back. The second line of Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Hudler was freaking fantastic tonight, especially on a night where Datsyuk was covered by Weber and Ryan Suter.
- Welcome back, Henrik Zetterberg.
- The shots don't really tell the whole story, but this was a real goaltending battle between Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne. I know that Nashville fans like to do the "(goalie name) sucks" chant that seems to be making its way around the NHL these days, but Jimmy's in a zone this season, and he's not leaving it, so when he's playing in the All-Star game and announced as a finalist for the Vezina this year, people will remember the phrase "he's got stopulence". It's a shame he had to lose on a goal like that, which was just pure luck on Weber's part. But a game like tonight was the exception to the rule for Howard this season.
- I still can't believe Datsyuk missed that shot.
- Quite the special teams battle, eh? It's not often you see the 2 teams combine for a 100% PP in one game. Something tells me both teams will be practicing penalty killing in the next day or two. The Wings 0-fer performance tonight doesn't seem that bad considering they only took 1 penalty, but it's one weakness on a team that has been playing extremely well in all other facets of the game so far this year.
- It's been a while since the Wings have had one of "those" games, but tonight was one of them. Outshooting the other team, controlling puck possession, and generally out-playing the opponent for a majority of the game. But, the Wings were due, and props to the Predators for never giving up and sticking around.