Helm help me, I love the Central Division. What an exciting game, eh?
A night after taking care of the Nashville Predators in a very business-like way, the Red Wings returned home to the Joe to take on the surging Blues in the third meeting of the year between these two clubs. The Wings put their 10-game home winning streak on the line, and a pair of third period goals was the difference as the Wings overcame a 2-goal deficit and beat the Blues 3-2.
The first period was more of the same; the Blues were the more assertive team and played their game, while the Wings were left to run around and try and break through the defensive scheme that the Blues employ. The Blues struck first when Matt D'Agostini's point shot seemed to be tipped by Ian White in front before getting by Jimmy Howard, who was outstanding in this game. It was a power play goal, and this was a foreshadow of things to come.
The Wings began to take over the game starting with the first shift of the second period, but it was the Blues who scored when a loose puck under Howard was corralled by Alex Steen and put in, giving the Blues a big 2-0 lead. I know I was thinking "here comes the trap", but that goal seemed to wake the Wings up, who finally got a power play of their own late in the second and converted when Nicklas Lidstrom's point shot found the back of the net, cutting the lead by one goal before the third.
The third period was all Wings as they imposed their will on the Blues for an extended period of time for the first time this season. Outshooting the Blues 13-3 in the third, the Wings got goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall 56 seconds apart, and withstood a flurry at the end to earn their first win of 2011-12 against the Blues and move back into second in the division.
It was a close affair, as we thought it would be, but the better team came out on top. Take a trip down 55 (after the jump) to check out the bullets that were flying.
- Let's get this out of the way now: the refereeing in this game was absolutely atrocious. I have no problems with the no whistle on the Blues' second goal, but it sure is suspicious that Auger lost sight of the puck when it was loose around the Blues' net. The Blues were getting away with slashes and elbows seemingly with impunity, but I'm sure that St Louis fans will cry "conspiracy" because the game was in Detroit. I'd agree with them, but there aren't enough tinfoil hats to go around.
- That is what we call a goaltending battle. Both goalies were damn good tonight, but Jimmy was one save better and earned that win for the team. Both goalies made 29 saves, but I would save Jimmy made more "spectacular" ones, although Elliott made a few jaw-droppers himself. If this were a playoff game, we'd be talking about how it was a shame that one team had to lose.
- Pavel Datsyuk was easily the best player on the ice tonight for either team, and he seemed to be the only one really skating out there in the first as the Wings seemed to forget once again that they are the better team. However, he refused to be intimidated by the big bad Blues, and another multi-point game moves him into a tie for 9th in the NHL in scoring. I'm willing to say without any hesitation that he will finish in the top-5 by year's end.
- That third period showing by the Wings was them realizing that they have the skill and talent to beat the Blues, and while it's a shame that it took them 2+ games to figure that out, it was nice to see them just keep skating and refusing to give up and break through the very tight system the Blues have adopted ever since Hitchcock took over. What makes that even more impressive is that the Wings surely were tired from having played last night in Nashville and had to travel overnight, yet found a way to get better as the game went along. If you're keeping score at home, that's the first time the Blues have lost in regulation when leading after 2 goals since Hitchcock took over. Maybe the Wings just gave the rest of the league the blueprint on how to beat St Louis.
- The Blues have scored 16 PPG all season; 5 of them have come against the Wings. If Detroit is going to really show that they are the cream of the division, that PK has got to get better, because giving up 2 PPG to the Blues' limpdick power play is simply unacceptable. Thankfully the Wings were excellent when it was even strength.
- Did you know that today was Mickey Redmond's birthday? I'm sure he got a big kick out of the Wings making such an impressive comeback on his birthday, much like my dog was (who also celebrated a birthday today). Basically, a hearty congrats to anyone who had a birthday today and saw the Wings win!
- Blues fans will tell you that such a tight, close game is a sign of the burgeoning rivalry, while Wing fans will say that it's just another December game and doesn't mean anything. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle; although the Blues really don't factor that much into Wing fans' thoughts yet on account of their general crappiness in the last 6 years or so, the fact that they seem to not want to go away just yet means that they are annoying, much like when you accidentally scratch a sunburn.
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The Wings are halfway through Division Hate Week, and they've gained 4 points in the first 2 games. The team will have a couple of nights off before finally meeting the Chicago Blackhawks in a game that could be the first of many epic matchups followed immediately by a New Year's Eve game against these same Blues. It's been fun so far, and the Wings can put a stamp on 2011 with 2 more victories.
Who was the Wings' Player of the Game?
Pavel Datsyuk (124 votes)
Jimmy Howard (143 votes)
Valtteri Filppula (8 votes)
Other (Write-In Comments) (4 votes)
279 total votes