Fresh off the All-Star break, the Red Wings (minus Nicklas Lidstrom) went to all corners of the globe for a little R&R. Apparently all that surf, sun and serenity led to them forgetting the concept of team defense. Or, maybe they were just so enamored with the offensive display that the All-Stars put on that they wanted in on the action. Either way, defense was at a premium on a night where the Wings simply out-slugged the Senators.
The first period was a wild affair, with five goals being scored between the two teams. The Senators opened the scoring on the power play when Alexei Kovalev shot a puck over a prone Jimmy Howard less than 90 seconds into the game. Johan Franzen then popped home 2 goals, giving the Wings their first lead of the night. However, goals by Peter Regin and Chris Campoli got the Sens back to even, and they took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
In the second, the Sens showed no signs of being the more fatigued team, taking the play to the Wings for the first half of the period. However, quick goals by Kris Draper and Niklas Kronwall gave the Wings their second lead of the game. The Senators would not go away, and Milan Michalek tied the game at 4.
Follow me after the jump for the third period highlights and the bullets.
The Wings started the third period with a power play, and Johan Franzen popped in the third Wings' hat trick of the season, once again putting the Wings out in front. However, the Senators proved to be more resilient than Team Lidstrom, and 30 seconds later Michalek tied the game again, this time at 5. Franzen, who was unstoppable offensively tonight, scored the eventual game winner on the power play 7 minutes into the third, and added his 5th goal of the night into the empty net to seal the victory. It was the third time of the year the Wings scored 7 goals in a game, but this one was a lot closer than it should have been.
- First of all, a very Happy Birthday to Todd Bertuzzi. He ended the night with an assist, +2, an extremely questionable penalty, and to celebrate tonight, he will drive to the Canadian Parliament building and kick a beaver.
- Johan Franzen is in this type of mode, I feel pity for the other team. We've been saying for a while that while we're happy he's leading the team in goals, he just hasn't been there during most of the games. He seems like he's been hanging around the edges, just looking for a chance to get a goal. I don't mind that he's looking to score, because as the team's number 1 sniper, that's what he's paid to do. However, I don't think anyone foresaw what he did tonight. It really seemed like he could have shot the puck from the bench and it would have gone in. 5 goals is impressive (first time since '96-'97 when a certain #91 popped in 5 against the Capitals), but it's the 10 shots on goal that leave me shaking my head in amazement. He accounted for almost a third of the Wings' shots tonight, and if this is the Franzen we're going to get in the second half of the season, I'm going to start picking him a lot more for PotG. Oh, and in the game thread we decided that 5 goals is a "Johatrick".
- It's weird to say that in a game where he gave up 5 goals, Jimmy Howard wasn't all that bad. In the first period, he really could not be faulted on any of the goals. He was flailing on the first goal, but his defense really hung him out to dry. Still, in the first period he seemed to have trouble locating the puck and was slow moving across his crease. For a guy that wants to improve on his stats in the second half, not a great start to the game. He responded in the second with a much better effort, but again, he just wasn't seeing the puck that well. In the game thread, there was a lot of talk about how we were cringing with every shot on goal. I like that he got the win, but an .852 SV% is not going to make me feel very good about the Wings' chances going forward, especially since they were playing one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL.
- There was a moment in the game where Nicklas Lidstrom's stick was caught up in Franzen's skate and tripped him. It was the perfect example of how the Wings could not get out of their own way all night.
- Say goodbye to the most useless streak in sports: Henrik Zetterberg did not get 2 shots on goal for the first time in 87 games. Now, let's queue up the "games in a row that Zetterberg gets one shot on goal".
- I am not sure if this is a testament to the resiliency of the Senators or the rust of the Wings, but the fact that the Wings could not go more than a minute without allowing the Sens to tie the game on three separate occasions. To me, that's a sign of a lack of focus, and I will simply chalk that up the Wings being rusty in their first game back after a long layoff.
Look, let's be honest with each other here: we're ecstatic the Wings won, but none of us really want that to be the way the Wings win games going forward. Scoring 7 is great; giving up 5 is awful. This was a game where the Wings started late, did not have anything resembling defensive coverage in the first period, and had a few glaring errors resulting in Senator goals. I have no doubts that Mike Babcock will have a thing or two to say about the Wings' defensive effort, and we should see things improve Friday night against the Blue Jackets. However, tonight belonged to Johan Franzen and his Johatrick. Kudos to him and the Wings for a nice start to the second half of the season.