The Red Wings welcomed the Edmonton Oilers into the Joe Louis Arena on a Friday night which would see the Wings' 15th consecutive home sellout, including 150 of the best people any one fan could ask to spend a weekend with. Overall, the pledge drive for the Children's Hospital of Michigan brought in $14,272. I'm not going to lie, seeing Red Wings nation more than double last year's total hit me on a pretty emotional and personal level on Friday night. Fortunately, after a rough start to the game, the Wings were able to pull off some heroics and down the Oilers 2-1 on Pavel Datsyuk's overtime game winner.
Neither team performed well on special teams, but overall I'd say the Wings were the losers of that battle, as the Oilers killed off all six of Detroit's opportunities, including a lengthy 5-on-3 chance in the third period. However, the Wings' PKers deserve some credit in preventing Edmonton from scoring on their four chances, especially the near-entire double-minor that Drew Miller took in the third which very well could have ended the game if the PK unit hadn't come up strong. The 44-27 shot total was a little misleading in this one, as the Oilers were content to sit on the one-goal lead they took out of the first period.
I'm incredibly happy for Jimmy Howard that the Wings were able to catch up on and eventually beat the Oilers in this game. He played phenomenally in a game that the Wings could have easily found themselves down by two or three goals by the end of the first. Unfortunately, the one the Oilers did score in the first period came on a horrible mental lapse by the sophomore netminder. From the soft goal on, he was on lock-down, making five incredible saves: one on a Ryan Jones breakaway, another two on a 2nd period power play by the Oilers where he had to go cross-crease to close down a wide-open net off a shot from Jordan Eberle that deflected straight to Alexandre Giroux, another on an Eberle breakaway, and finally a great stop on a one-timer from behind his own net in overtime. His rating for the game is +4.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump.The Goals
1st Period 06:40 - Edmonton Goal: Ryan Jones (wrist shot) from Jim Vandermeer
While Edmonton clogs up the neutral zone with players, Helm and Holmstrom fight to move the puck up ice. Miller gets it at center, but is taken down with the puck and tries to throw a backhand deep into the Edmonton zone on a play that would have worked fine if the linesman hadn't been there (exactly where he's supposed to be). Jim Vandermeer picks it up off the linesman and throws it up ice to Jones going the other way to Howard's right. Stuart and Kronwall do a good job of recognizing the lone man coming in and keep him to the outside as he skates in. From just inside the point of the faceoff circle closest to the boards, Jones throws a low wrister at the near side that, as Mickey Redmond pointed out, is very likely going to harmlessly hit the outside of the net. But, Howard doesn't adequately cover the low side and the puck ends up deflecting off the bottom of his leg pad and in. This is a soft goal by Howard. I'm going to clear the minuses of Helm, Holmstrom, Miller, Stuart, and Kronwall. Every man here did his job well except the netminder. I'm just glad he was able to overcome this one.
3rd Period 19:35 - Detroit Goal: Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen
Detroit has Jimmy Howard pulled for the extra skater late in the third period as they struggle to tie a 1-0 game. Zetterberg wins a faceoff with 48 seconds left to go, setting off the series of events that lead to the tying goal. After a Lidstrom dump down low looking for a deflection which Holmstrom tries to jam in on the near side, the puck goes behind the net, where Franzen pressures Jason Strudwick into throwing a weak clearing attempt up the boards. Lidstrom intercepts the attempt and goes across the blue line to Kronwall for a shot at the front that's intended for a deflection, but instead goes to the opposite corner, where it bounces to Zetterberg. Z throws it at Dubnyk with Holmstrom screening. Homer gets a couple of whacks at it, but the puck is again pushed behind the net. While Strudwick is busy cross-checking Holmstrom to the ice (and drawing what would have been a penalty), Franzen sweeps it past Vandermeer to Datsyuk at the side of the goal. Pavel shows off his croquet skills here and sends a blind backhander through both Cogliano's and Ryan Jones' legs to Lidstrom back at the point. The Red Wings' captain gathers it in the corner at the top of the zone, winds up and fires a slapshot intended for Holmstrom in front of the net for a deflection, but instead the puck goes off Andrew Cogliano's skate and back across the grain into the net to tie the game with fewer than 25 seconds remaining. Holmstrom does amazing work screening the goalie and bothering the defensemen in this situation, earning Homer an assist and a bonus plus. Zetterberg's crucial faceoff win is good for a bonus plus and his shot on net that led to the scrum which ended up in the eventual goal will earn Zetterberg an assist. Kronwall does a good job high in the zone to keep this play moving along as well. Kronner will get a half-assist. Franzen's pressure behind the net will net him a bonus half-plus. He not only forces Strudwick into a bad clearing attempt, but he's also the reason Datsyuk got the puck to make the pass back to Lidstrom. Speaking of the pass from Datsyuk, I'm a bit torn. It's simply amazing that he was able to get it through the skates of two players, but that's such a low-percentage pass. I'd give him bonus credit for doing this, but I'm going to have to cancel it out for the two blind backhanders he threw directly onto Oilers' sticks earlier in the game on power plays anyway.
Overtime 04:18 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall
Late in an overtime period which sees several good chances go either way, Detroit ends it in dramatic fashion. With one minute left to go, Lidstrom gets it to Datsyuk off the bench going into the Edmonton zone with speed. Pavel skates a circuit behind the Oilers' net before going back across the zone to Kronwall off the bench. Kronner fakes a one-timer to make some room for himself and gets off a good slap shot opportunity from the left faceoff circle. Dubnyk stops the shot, but Kronwall gathers in his own rebound and goes back to Datsyuk at the top of the zone. Pavel throws it low to Franzen and then receives the pass back from him as the two switch places in the zone from low to high. During this transition, Jeff Petry loses his stick, as he gets it awkwardly caught on Datsyuk's as he completes the pass. With the puck at the top of the zone, Franzen loops around the blue line and heads for the top of the right faceoff circle. He pulls Liam Reddox with him away from the center of the ice and then feeds Datsyuk with a backhand pass as he's stepping into the slot. Reddox tries to recover from his positioning by sprawling in front of Datsyuk to block the shot, but the Magician dangles around the laid-out forward's stick and then rips a wrist shot through traffic and back across the grain into the net behind Dubnyk to win the game. First off, Niklas Kronwall is a big part of the screen in front of Dubnyk, as he battles for position very well. For this, Kronwall will earn another assist. Datsyuk will get an assist on his own goal here as his passing and creativity helped make the room for this play to develop. Franzen will also pick up a bonus half-assist for his passing. Finally, even though he wasn't on the ice when the goal was scored, Nick Lidstrom will get a half-assist for leading the rush and hitting Datsyuk in stride to help the Wings establish their zone presence.
As it stands in this game, all ten penalties were called between Edmonton's goal and Detroit's first, so instead of filling that space between those in the narrative, I'll do them all at once. The first call, a slash by Cogliano was a stupid play by the OIler's forward and not a drawn call, so no adjustment. There were three penalties in the second period. The first was an interference in front of the Edmonton net, where Kurtis Foster and Shawn Horcoff combine to take down Valtteri Filppula as he drives the net on a good Wings rush. The second and third penalties will even out, however, as Holmstrom draws Ryan Jones into taking the only roughing minor in a net-front scrum, but then cancels out the plus he would have earned by chopping Alexandre Giroux's stick out of his hands later in the period. You probably know my stance on stick-slash penalties is that I hate them, but Homer lays an overhand chop on the lumber here. This one's pretty obvious.
In the third period, Filppula will cancel out the plus he would have gotten for drawing one in the 2nd, as he gets his stick caught between Liam Reddox's legs and hauls him down. two minutes after this penalty ends, Dan Cleary draws one as he protects the puck very well from Tom Gilbert and forces the man to poke his skates out from under him. Cleary will earn a plus. Just 25 seconds into this penalty kill for Edmonton, Kronwall finds Datsyuk streaking through the neutral zone. Datsyuk makes a good head fake on Vandermeer and to repay the favor, Vandermeer tries to take Datsyuk's head off his shoulders with a cross check. Datsyuk will get a plus for drawing the penalty. Also, the pass from Kronwall to hit him full-stride is crucial to how this develops. Kronwall will get a half-plus. After Detroit fails to capitalize on the great chance handed them, Drew Miller gets his stick up on Cogliano and earns himself a four-minute trip to the box. Careless use of the stick is careless use, I don't care if the guy bleeds. Miller gets one minus. Finally, while on the second leg of the kill, Justin Abdelkader does some really great work to force Gilbert Brule to haul him down in order to avoid a chance going the other way. Abdelkader will get a plus.
-0.5 to Danny Cleary: Cleary did some good things in this game, but what stuck out in my mind was a play in the 2nd period where he was the first on an iced puck and, for some reason, doesn't play it, resulting in an icing call. I might have been able to let this one go, except that after the ensuing faceoff in the Wings zone, Brad Stuart got nearly demolished by Jean-Francois Jacques on the boards.
+0.5 to Todd Bertuzzi: Bert played a quietly excellent defensive game in this one and created a few good chances which led to some of Dubnyk's more difficult saves. I thought the waived-off goal was ultimately a good call, but damn the refs for not letting it count anyway.
+1 to Mike Modano: I really liked his hustle in this game and how he worked on the boards and in his own zone to retrieve pucks. Overall, I counted three Edmonton rushes that he ended on his own.
+0.5 to Niklas Kronwall: The feast-or-famine defenseman has been eating well lately, as he blocked an open net try in the first period after an Edmonton forward ran Jimmy Howard behind the net, leaving the puck wide open for what would have been a goal if not for Kronwall. I halved his plus because of a play in the first period where he allowed Ryan Jones to get behind him on a breakaway after a Murphy Dump by Edmonton.
+1 to Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom: The two defensive stalwarts for the Wings did an excellent job of slowing down an Oilers counterattack that got way too many opportunities. I think Stuie's jaw protector is still bugging him, but he's definitely coming back into form in a great way.
-0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: Contrary to popular belief, Big Rig actually does use his body, and he was doing a good job of that in this game. Unfortunately, in perfect harmony with popular belief, Big Rig does still play a panicked game and turn the puck over too often, which was also on display Friday Night.
Honorable Mentions: Kindl and Salei played a bit of hit-or-miss in this game. I thought both were mostly quietly solid, but there were a few glaring errors in the first which I felt evened them out for the game. Darren Helm was simply decent, but I felt he didn't do enough to utilize his speed in backing off the Edmonton defense.
All in all, this was a positive step defensively for the Wings, but they need to get both sides of their game working at once. I hope to have the CSSI for Saturday's game against St. Louis up tomorrow. As a note to that: the tracking post is only updated through the Edmonton game; even the official stats.
Finally, I just want to thank everybody for such a great weekend at H2H2. It was fantastic getting to meet some of the more active game thread participants in person and spend some time getting to know everybody. I hope to see all of you and more again next time we do this. Oh, and Tyler, I'm sorry I almost killed you when Lidstrom tied it.