143:26 was too long of a scoreless streak for the Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk made sure it was known that he does not appreciate that.
Datsyuk scored in his first game back from a broken hand to bring his season total to 13. With the puck along the boards to Martin Biron's right, Datsyuk went to the boards to free it up to Dan Cleary. Cleary sent it to Jiri Hudler, who sent it back to Datsyuk at the bottom of the faceoff circle. Datsyuk put a shot on net that Biron saved but the rebound was knocked in to break the horrible scoring drought.
The third period saw a bit more scoring action as both teams struck in relatively close fashion to start the third period. Derek Stepan scored at 3:09 of the third off a great cross-ice pass from Matt Gilroy. Brian Rafalski was unable to tie up Stepan's stick and the rookie had a slamdunk goal.
With the game tied early in the third, things get a little crazy. Take the jump to see how things played out...ignore the title.
Jiri Hudler scored his fifth goal of the season on a series of great passes in the offensive zone. Hudler picked up the puck along the boards and then backhanded a pass to Datsyuk. Datsyuk hit Jonathan Ericsson cross-ice and Ericsson found a streaking Hudler for a one-time goal past a sliding Biron for a 2-1 lead at 5:04 of the third period. Drew Miller picked up his fourth of the season after Justin Abdelkader picked up an errant pass and put a shot on net from the faceoff circle. Miller put the rebound past Biron at 14:37 for a 3-1 lead.
However, shortly after Jonathan Ericsson went back to his old self and got caught pinching in the offensive zone. Sean Avery picked the puck up and hit Brandon Dubinsky across the ice. Dubinsky waited a bit before firing high on Howard and scoring his 18th of the season at 15:55. Ericsson then took a two-minute minor for high sticking Avery at 16:20 and the Rangers were on the power play. Wanting to fit in, Justin Abdelkader hit Avery with a high stick and was given a double minor for his actions.
With the Rangers on a 5-on-3, Henrik Zetterberg did a great job of killing about 10-15 seconds and then Ericsson came out of the box to help out on the PK. The Rangers pulled Biron for an extra attacker but were unable to capitalize on a 6-on-4 and the Wings sealed up the two points for the win.
The Rangers have lost 5 straight games while the Red Wings halted their two game losing streak, thanks in large part to 45 saves from Jimmy Howard.
- Welcome back, Pavel. Datsyuk picked up right where he left off, scoring a goal, adding an assist and having three (definitely more, just not documented) takeaways. Datsyuk had 15:03 of ice-time and oddly took 0 faceoffs. you've gotta think that's part of the healing process for his hand and that it's not strong enough yet. He had a great backcheck to take the puck away from Stepan on a Rangers' rush. Good to have him back.
- Gotta hope Filppula leaving wasn't serious. He got hit by Brandon Dubinsky along the boards and it looked like he took a knee to the thigh and didn't return.
- Jimmy Howard was solid in net during the first two periods and then got hung out to dry on both of those goals. Stepan's goal should have been shut down by Rafalski but Stepan also made a great play on that. Dubinsky's goal was also tough for Howard to deal with as the Rangers had an odd-man rush.
- The Rangers put a lot of shots wide--whether intentional or not--and had a lot of chances off of those "lively boards at the Joe!". They put a lot of shots towards Jimmy and really made him work. He did a pretty good job battling the rebounds and staying confident. The Rangers definitely had a good attack plan but just weren't able to put as many past Howard as they would want.
- How about Jiri Hudler's pass to Datsyuk to set up the goal that he later scored? Through the legs of a pressing Ranger to Datsyuk. Hudler had a pretty solid night and ended up with a goal and an assist. You've got to hope a night like tonight and the possibility that he continues to play with Datsyuk and Cleary will boost his confidence offensively.
- You know who didn't have a good night? Both Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. Kindl took a bad delay of game penalty and had two documented (surely more) giveaways. Ericsson's penalty was very dumb and the pinch cost the Wings the second goal. Although, Ericsson did redeem himself a bit with his great pass to set up Hudler's goal so...yeah.
- Ruslan Salei had a very solid night tonight. He shut down a few good chances for the Rangers and was solid all night in both zones. For the life of me, I can't remember exactly what moment in the game made me really impressed.
- Johan Franzen did a good job tonight of finding the open ice and getting shots (4 of them) on net. He also saved a goal in the second period and played like the angry Mule we all love.
- Props to Hank for that good bit of penalty killing late in the game. He had an excellent game and although he wasn't rewarded with any points, he should be happy with the performance. Oddly, Hank had 14:37 of ice-time, which was pretty low for most forwards.