The Red Wings and Wild met in the State of Hockey for a morning game on Hockey Day in America. The two teams fought a hard defensive battle, ultimately taking it to a shootout where a Todd Bertuzzi backhand in front of a bitterly booing crowd gave the Wings their fifth straight win. Datsyuk opened the shootout scoring with another forehand rip over a goalie's blocker and Jimmy Howard came up strong on both Minnesota attempts after a 1-1 regulation and a scoreless OT period dominated by Detroit
Neither team converted on any of the five power play opportunities in this game, Detroit failing on both their tries, but preventing all three of Minnesota's. Ultimately, I'd say Minnesota won the special teams battle though, as some of their best scoring chances came on Detroit's 2nd man advantage of the game. Outshooting Minny in all parts of the game, the Wings held a 39-26 shots advantage. Big credit to Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom for an outstanding game; he held a team in the game that had no business getting a point out of Sunday's action.
It's not often that I get to say Jimmy Howard was the 2nd-best goalie to play in a game and still be very happy about that. Like I said above, Backstrom was stellar under pressure. Almost equal to that task was Jimmy Howard, who at times did have to deal with the dreaded cold snap that sometimes hits Red Wings goalies when it's been so long since they've seen a quality scoring chance. Such was the case in the 2nd period of this game, where Howard was forced to make one big save in the first minute of the 2nd and then next to nothing for the rest of the period, eventually making his second big save on a scary power play shot redirect out front 17 game minutes later. His rating for this game was +3.
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Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump.The Goals
3rd Period 1:10 - Detroit Goal: Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) from Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart.
Stuart chips it off the boards in his own end to clear the Wild pressure. With the puck moving up ice, Cleary ties up Brent Burns in the neutral zone to keep him from getting it. The puck gets by the duo as Hudler races into the zone to retrieve it. With the puck in hand, Huds carries it off the boards and again using his patience, he allows the defense to over-collapse on the rush before going back up high into the zone to Lidstrom, who has skated into the extra room given by the Wild defense. Lidstrom fires a slapshot through the Danny Cleary screen and past Backstrom to break the tie. Cleary will get the screener's assist as well as a bonus plus for his play on Burns. Hudler's hustle and play in the Minnesota end is good for an extra half-assist.
3rd Period 4:50 - Minnesota Goal: Martin Havlat (wrist shot) from Brent Burns
Cleary brings it into the Wild zone on a rush, but gets cut off to the corner. He tries a saucer pass over Havlat's stick to Datsyuk, but Pavel mishandles and kicks it to Burns, who immediately pushes it up ice to Havlat moving the other way. Now behind the Detroit defense, Havlat converts the breakaway by going five-hole on Howard in a manner very similar to Darren Helm's most recent goal. Stuart's positioning on Lidstrom's half of the ice and too far up on the play is a little puzzling. Brad Stuart will get an extra minus for this. Cleary to Datsyuk on that saucer pass connects 99 times out of 100, but on the 100th time that it doesn't connect, they're both going to get a minus for turning over the puck high in the offensive zone with the play moving the wrong direction. After Cleary and Datsyuk get their extra minuses, Lidstrom and Hudler are cleared of theirs.
Johan Franzen 1st Period 07:50 - Slashing: Franzen got pushed from behind by Stoner and spun around to get his stick back on the ice and into the play. His stick happened to make contact with Stoner's and he got sent to the box. This was a weak call - No adjustment.
John Madden 2nd Period 8:35 - Hooking: Jiri Hudler gets it on the boards coming out of the Wings zone and Madden hooks him from behind. NBC microphones picked up Madden saying something naughty and letting the ref know that it was a stick-on-stick move and shouldn't have been a penalty. Replay shows that Madden was telling the truth. No adjustment.
Cody Almond 2nd Period 12:19 - Holding: Later in the 2nd, Draper gets a half-step on Almond and he takes a hand off the stick to hold him up. Good call - Draper gets a plus.
Niklas Kronwall 2nd Period17:15 - Tripping: As SBN Detroit writer Ryan Weiss pointed out in the game thread, Franzen turns the puck over to Brent Burns in his own zone and Burns threatens to rip past Kronwall before Kronner sticks his skate in to trip him up. Burns embellishes, but it doesn't change the fact that Kronwall tripped him. Both Franzen and Kronwall get a minus.
Johan Franzen 3rd Period 05:30 - Goaltender Interference: As Franzen moves behind Greg Zanon in front of the net, the Wild defenseman throws a hip check at the winger away from the puck. Franzen flies into Backstrom and gets the penalty for it. The refs flat out made the wrong call on this and Franzen will not get a minus.
+1.5 to Nicklas Lidstrom: You see a two-on-one rush against the Wings; then, you see that the one man back is Lidstrom and a feeling of calm washes over you like an awesome tropical waterfall. That's what it's like to have Nick Lidstrom on your team. The odd-man break was only a part of his excellent play.
+0.5 to Danny Cleary, Patrick Eaves and Tomas Holmstrom: All three did a great job pressuring the Wild on the forecheck, helping to create pressure and turnovers for the Wings.
+1 to Darren Helm: The penalty-killing leader of the Wings was back to his substantially high contribution to a good Wings' defensive effort.
-0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan Salei: There were too many decision-making problems with these two. Each off them had a bad habit of holding the puck too long and failing to get the puck around the forechecking pressure they brought upon themselves.
-0.5 to Drew Miller: Expectations for a fourth-line penalty-killing winger are low to start, but I at least expect to be able to remember that the guy played in a game where I'm scoring. I had trouble doing even that.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg: Datsyuk had a play where he nonchalantly picked the puck off the boards in his own ends between two Wild forwards. Zetterberg had a steal behind the Minnesota net which ended in a great wraparound attempt. These are examples of the kind of play they bring every single game.
-1 to Johan Franzen: Similar to my complaint about Miller, it's even worse for Franzen since he played more than twice as many minutes. He managed six shots on net, but I remember exactly two of those.
Honorable Mentions: Rafalski made a few defensive gaffes, but made up for those with equally as impressive plays. Kronwall's in the exact same boat, but he was probably closer to an extra minus than Rafalski was. I consider Rafalski's mistakes to have been enough to counter what otherwise would have been a plus while I consider Kronwall's good plays to have made up for his gaffes. I guess the difference is the way each of them started the game and then adjusted to the mean as the minutes ticked off.
Up next: Wings get President's Day off as they prepare to welcome the San Jose Sharks into their building on Tuesday.