Detroit ended the Holiday NHL blackout with a solid road win over the Nashville Predators in the Bridgestone arena, where throwing catfish is a thing. The game was fairly tight through the first half before the Wings pulled away with two quick goals past the ten-minute mark of the 2nd. Overall, a good performance by a Detroit team which needed to show more effort coming off their two consecutive road losses.
The reffing standard was somewhat loose for both sides, which was good for the flow of the game. There wasn't a lot of the "old style" clutch-and-grab going on, but there were certainly some minor stick infractions which went uncalled. Detroit went 0-for-2 on the power play, but still won the special teams battle by holding Nashville scoreless on their five opportunities. Score effects widened a small shot advantage for the Preds into a 32-22 final tally.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
Penalty Adjustment: 2:38 into the first period, Cory Emmerton goes off for a trip. Lidstrom passes to him coming out of the Detroit zone, but he doesn't handle cleanly as Halischuk steps in on him. After losing the puck, the young centerman swings his stick around to keep Patric Hornqvist from getting behind him and brings the big young Swede down. Emmerton will get a minus.
1st Period 10:57 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (snap shot) from Henrik Zetterberg
Detroit gets on the board first when Henrik Zetterberg wins a faceoff at his own blue line and then the Wings' 2nd line does excellent work in the Nashville zone. Hudler gets the faceoff win and dumps it in. Francis Bouillon is first on it , but is forced to go around the boards behind his own net with the puck because of the pressure from Hudler. Filppula is the first man on it before it can get to Craig Smith at the half-boards. Flip uses Lidstrom at the point to reset the cycle to Hudler. As everybody comes back into the zone, Huds passes off to Filppula cutting inside of him. Flip is covered, so he cuts off his run and skates back toward the blue line with Jonathon Blum in tow. Lidstrom gives him the option to hand it off at the blue line, which provides enough room for Flip to carry high across the zone before dumping it back into the corner for Hudler to retrieve. Huds fights off his man and leaves the puck for Zetterberg to pick up and carry behind the net. With Bouillon in tow the entire time, Zetterberg makes a wide arc from the low corner behind Rinne's left to the outside of the opposite circle where a crossing play with Filppula gives him the separation he needs to complete a turn into the high slot for a great backhander attempt on net. Rinne stops the shot by kicking it to his left boards where Erat is first on it. The short-sticked and loud-mouthed Nashville forward carries up the boards with Zetterberg hounding him the entire way. White holds his ground at the blue line to end Erat's options up ice. A spin-pass to David Legwand hits, but Z is still there to jab the puck off Legwand's stick just outside the line. Z turns it back in and crosses the line at center right as Hudler tags up. White is already up on the play so he joins on the wing. Hudler goes to the bottom of the circle while White drives the front of the net as Z dangles just inside the zone to give the play time to develop. As the defense collapses, Zetterberg finds Filppula coming in as the high man in the zone. Z hits him with a pass in the slot for a snap shot through Rinne. I'm going to award assists on the play to Valtteri FIlppula (self) and Jiri Hudler (third). Ian White will also get a half-assist (non-touch) for drawing the defense low and creating room for Filppula. Zetterberg will also pull a bonus assist. On the defensive side of the play which led to this goal, bonus pluses will go to Zetterberg, Hudler, Filppula, and White (half). If not for the voracious forechecking and puck support by the Wings on this play, it doesn't develop.
Penalty Adjustment: 2:58 into the 2nd period, Henrik Zetterberg is doing work in the offensive zone to create a chance, but carelessly gets his stick up on Jordin Tootoo and goes to the box for it. Zetterberg will get a minus.
2nd Period 12:52 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrap-around) from Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen
This play starts in the neutral zone with Nashville carrying the puck in the Detroit end with numbers. Legwand crosses the blue line with Erat and Smith. Roman Josi joins the rush to keep the numerical advantage alive. Instead of passing like a smart person, Legwand decides that trying to walk through Lidstrom and White is the right play. The two Wings' D-men show him the error of his ways as Lidstrom takes the body, White takes it off Legwand's stick, and then Lidstrom turns and throws it high off the boards out of the zone. Bertuzzi is the man back to pressure Ryan Suter in the neutral zone. Suter tries to keep the pressure on by going around Bertuzzi up the boards, but he misses Josi with it and gets to watch Datsyuk pick it up in stride to enter the zone. Pavs crosses the blue line and drops it off for Bertuzzi while he goes to the front of the net. Bert stops it and then makes a back-pass to Franzen cutting behind him with speed down the wing. Suter turns to Franzen and forgets Bertuzzi exists while Mule has the puck. The pass back to Bert behind the D is a good one, but the shot is not, as it goes wide. Datsyuk is already in position behind the net, having been shoved there by Josi. With both Nashville D-men on one side of the net and the goalie still recovering from going down to stop a shot, Datsyuk picks it up and quickly gets to the far post with it to jam it under Rinne for what will be the game-winner. Lidstrom will get the third assist on this play. Ian White and Todd Bertuzzi will each pick up bonus half-pluses for their work assisting the defense and helping force errors by Predators players which facilitated this goal.
2nd Period 13:05 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (wrist shot) from Drew Miller
13 seconds later, Detroit gets more breathing space from Danny Cleary. Helm wins the faceoff cleanly back to Kronwall, who dumps it off Drew Miller's stick into the zone. Rinne plays it into the corner with Helm chasing Jack Hillen. Ryan Ellis skates in to try and reverse the play by poking it around the Helm/Hillen ball of humanity, but he gets caught in the whirlwind of awesome that is Darren Helm, allowing a hard-charging Drew Miller to sweep in down the boards and get the loose puck. Miller's momentum is too strong for Ellis to pinch him off at the boards, so instead he weakly chases him around to prevent a true wrap-around. Miller takes it to the far side of the net about midway between the pipe and the boards before feeding it out to Cleary standing all alone. Cleary wastes no time in making Mike Fisher look dumb for failing to cover him by putting the puck through Rinne. Darren Helm will get an assist for the forecheck and faceoff win. Drew Miller's rush down the boards to steal the puck away and outmaneuver Ellis will earn him a half-plus.
3rd Period 05:22 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (slap shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Cory Emmerton
Detroit's fourth goal comes off good work from the fourth line (with Filppula). Emmerton dumps the puck into the Nashville zone for Abdelkader to retrieve. Blum is able to jam the puck behind his own net under pressure, but Abby is relentless and forces Bouillon to try up the boards. Blake Geoffrion completely whiffs on this puck, which brings it to Ian White at the point. Wasting no time, White tees up a slap shot through traffic in front of Rinne. The puck hits Bouillon out front and lays for Emmerton to try on net. Blum gets his stick in to prevent a clean shot, but the tip is weak and goes to Abdelkader in front to Rinne's right. Abby's attempt to bang the puck in as soon as it touches the ice is stopped by a scrambling Rinne. The puck goes out the other side into the faceoff dot where Filppula is there to collect and shoot it past Bouillon into the wide-open net for his 2nd of the game. First off, Ericsson will lose his plus for this goal. Before the dump-in, Riggy makes a cross-ice outlet pass attempt in his own zone which is tipped and nearly turned into a scoring chance for Nashville. Mike Commodore helps clean up this mistake, but changes before the goal is scored. I'm going to award Commodore a plus on this play. Abdelkader will get a bonus plus for his forechecking work to help the puck turn over. Geoffrion makes a huge mistake in missing the puck in his own zone, but the pressure from Abby is part of what leads to this. Finally, White will get the third assist on this play.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): At 12:17 of the third, shortly after the Wings kill the Ericsson penalty, the Predators find themselves on the power play again. Pavel Datsyuk goes to the boards with Matt Halischuk with his stick in the guy's midsection. Despite a bit of a sell-job, this is a good penalty call by the refs and Datsyuk will get a minus for it.. Then, after Detroit finishes killing THAT penalty, the Wings get their 2nd power play of the night as Jiri Hudler outhustles Mike Fisher behind the Nashville net and draws a holding penalty. Hudler will get a plus.
3rd Period 17:48 - Nashville Goal: Jonathan Blum (wrist shot) from Jordin Tootoo
Nashville gets a goal during "screw your shutout" time. Good pressure by Nashville turns it over before Detroit can get up ice. The Predators turn it back into the zone with Tootoo receiving a cross-ice pass from Legwand to bring it in with Erat. White and Lidstrom defend the play well, but the puck goes behind the net. Lidstrom tries clearing it up the boards, but Tootoo gets there to pick it off and go to Blum at the blue line. Blum has room to step into the middle and find a lane to go through Drew Miller with the shot. Legwand and White are the guys battling in front as the puck goes past a screened Howard to break the shutout. Howard will be cleared of blame on this goal, since the screen is a very good one. Helm and Hudler will also be cleared of their minuses, as neither of them had a coverage responsibility near enough to the puck.
1st Period 15:58 - Ryan Ellis (interference): Young kid's first game up and what would be a great step-up on Darren Helm if the puck had been there when he made the play. Helm didn't force him to get a bit overexuberant.
1st Period 19:46 - Johan Franzen (holding): With how many holds went on in the first period without a call, to see this one called on one player instead of both of them was very disappointing.
3rd Period 09:38 - Jonathan Ericsson (tripping): Sergei Kostitsyn feels a gentle tap from Ericsson and loses his edge. The refs send Ericsson to the box because Detroit is winning. A sharper eye reveals a good defensive play.
+1.5 to Danny Cleary & Nicklas Lidstrom; +1 to Brad Stuart, Niklas Kronwall, and Darren Helm: The PK-Special hits for these players, who each played massive minutes on the PK (and did good things elsewhere in the case of Lidstrom and Helm). Without the efforts of these guys, this game could have turned out much differently.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: This adjustment brings him up from an adjusted even. He may have deserved more, but he was limited by his 4/14 performance in the faceoff dot.
+1.5 to Henrik Zetterberg & +1 to Valtteri Filppula: Z had the swagger back in his step in this game and that really benefited everybody he played with. Games like this leave no doubt as to why Z wears an A. As for Filppula, he was the best defensive forward the Red Wings had at even-strength in this game. He was all over the ice blanketing Predators players in his own zone and slipping them in theirs. What a game by Flip.
Ericsson was on his way to a plus before he faded in the 2nd period and later with a few boneheaded plays. Mike Commodore played a very good 13:42. His adjusted +1 suited him very nicely in this game.
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