In the marquee match-up of the night in the NHL, the Washington Capitals put their 9-game win streak on the line at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring in the first period with his 19th of the season. Zetterberg dumped the puck in behind Capitals' goalie Michal Neuvirth. Dan Cleary pushed it to Todd Bertuzzi on the other side of the net and Bertuzzi threw it to Brian Rafalski on the halfboards. Rafalski whipped it to Zetterberg in the slot and a one-timer beat Neuvirth high glove-side for a 1-0 Detroit lead at 12:23.
The goal was Zetterberg's first since scoring one against the Sharks on February 22. Zetterberg had just emerged from the box at 11:34 of the period and stayed on the ice for the entire shift until the goal was scored.
John Carlson helped the Capitals answer about 30 seconds later with a slap shot from above the face-off dot that beat Jimmy Howard. Jason Chimera passed the puck from behind the net and Pavel Datsyuk stepped forward to try and block the shot, but the puck went past him and then Howard for Carlson's 6th of the season.
The Detroit lead was short lived, follow the jump to see how the rest of the game played out.
Valterri Filppula scored shortly after Carlson's goal to give the Wings the lead back. Justin Abdelkader and Mike Modano dig the puck out behind Neuvirth and Modano gets the puck to Filppula along the boards and Filppula finds Rafalski across the ice at the blue line. Rafalski pump fakes on the shot, allowing Filppula to drive the net and get the tip-in when Rafalski actually does put the shot on net.
Alex Ovechkin scored on wicked wrist shot between the legs of Brad Stuart during the second period. Ovechkin's shot was an incredibly quick release and through the screen, with the placement of the shot, Howard had very little chance on the shot.
Mike Knuble (a one-time Red Wing) tripped Abdelkader midway through the third period, setting the Wings up on a power play. The top power play line was efficient as Pavel Datsyuk fed a pass from center ice to Zetterberg as he entered the zone. Zetterberg streaked down the boards to Neuvirth's left and past Scott Hannan, cutting in towards the goal and lifting an excellent backhander high and past Neuvirth. The goal, at 9:53 of the third, was the eventual game winner and was Zetterberg's 20th of the season.
Brian Rafalski assisted on all three goals tonight. Jimmy Howard stopped 26 of 28 shots en route to win 34 on the season. The Detroit power play went 1 for 2 on the night, while the Washington power play went 0 for 4.
The Red Wings play again tomorrow night in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. The Capitals head to New Jersey to play the Devils on Friday. Tonight's win pushes the Red Wings to 92 points, 8 above Chicago in the Central with the same number of games played.
:: GOAL OF THE NIGHT ::
:: ANALYSIS ::
- Henrik Zetterberg accounted for 7 of the 35 Detroit shots. For those who don't have strong math skills, that's 20% of the shots on goal from one player. Justin Abdelkader and Valtteri Filppula were second in shots on goal, each registering 4.
- Hank was also 7 of 11 in the face-off dot (63.6%) on the night. Kris Draper won all 6 of the draws he took. Detroit won 62.5% of the total draws taken, a big reason for the puck possession success. Zetterberg won 100% of his defensive zone draws tonight and destroyed Brooks Laich in the dot, winning all five of the match-ups.
- Oddly, the Wings had a lot of trouble getting anything going in the offensive and neutral zone against the Oilers, but had success all night long against the Capitals. Strange how things work out sometimes. The Wings had success in those zones from the opening puck drop tonight and it was refreshing to see the energy and passing success they had tonight.
- How sick of a shot was that by Ovechkin? His release is so quick. I mean, Brad Stuart was actually in pretty good defensive position but just had no time to react with his stick. If he tries to do something before the shot, Ovechkin is fully capable of maneuvering around him and creating another scoring chance for himself. Ovechkin lead the Caps with 7 shots on goal, accounting for 25% of the WSH shots.
- Looking at the shot charts below, the Wings did a very good job at putting shots on goal from the middle of the ice. We've seen so many games in the past where they shoot from along the boards or blueline and look for rebounds, but are unable to get any second chances because the pucks are just kicked out along the boards. They had a very good shot variety tonight and it made it feel like they dominated the play more. You can also see that the Wings did a great job in the second period of outshooting the Caps, 16-9
- Dennis Wideman played nearly 28 minutes tonight...after playing nearly 26 last night against Montreal. Wideman's logged some 27 and 29 minute games this season, but most of those have been OT games. Ovechkin? 26 minutes...as a forward.
- Darren Helm had yet another quality night, despite no stats showing it. Helm lead all forwards in shorthanded time on ice with 4:32 and had some great individual efforts to kill time off the clock. I think he has to be one of the top five penalty killers in the league (at forward).