[First off, an apology for not having the CSSI Analysis done for last Saturday's game in St. Louis. I got back to Kansas from the trip and came down with the dreaded H2HFlu that hit a few of us. Based on the Wings' schedule, I'm hoping that maybe I can get that game done on Friday night, but I definitely won't let it get past the weekend. Until then, the tracking chart is going to be one game behind, as I'm going to move forward with the games they're playing.]
The Red Wings put their awesome two-game winning streak on the line when they faced off against the Washington capitals and the paltry nine-game streak of their own. When all was said and done, the Wings were the only team left with a streak, as they dropped the Capitals 3-2 off the strength of two Henrik Zetterberg goals and three Brian Rafalski assists. Washington struggled with Detroit's possession game throughout this one as they played their second game in two nights, but their goaltender kept it very interesting.
Washington earned twice as many power plays in this contest than Detroit, but in the end, the Wings came away with the special teams victory, converting on one of their two chances while effectively shutting down a frightening Washington man advantage. Ultimately, it was the power play goal which made the difference in this game, coming off Zetterberg's stick in the third period while the Wings were building to their final 35-28 shots advantage.
Jimmy Howard was not tested nearly as much as he had been in previous games, but he played very well. Ovechkin and Semin got some really good scoring chances that he was able to shut down (especially one on Semin coming in on a 2-on-1 that Howard poked away from the bongo aficionado). Neither of the two goals he gave up should be considered weak and the three big stops definitely made the difference between one of those frustrating games where Detroit outplays their opposition only to lose and the result we actually saw. Howard earns a solid +3 rating.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump.The Goals
Penalty Adjustment: Nine minutes into the first period, with Detroit in good control of the play, the Caps put on some forechecking pressure. Zetterberg feels the pinch and tries to chip the puck off the boards and out. Unfortunately, he misses the boards and finds the penalty box. Zetterberg will get a minus.
1st Period 12:23 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (slap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Todd Bertuzzi
A good shift by the Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Cleary line leads to time in zone that's eventually broken up and cleared. However, the forecheck of Zetterberg and Bertuzzi pinches the puck off before Washington can set up a rush and causes the puck to roll to Lidstrom at center. After playing catch with Raffi, Lidstrom finds Zetterberg on the wing. Z brings it past the blue line, and sees the defense moving to cut him off at the half-boards; instead of forcing the play here, Zetterberg circles back to break the pressure and the throws it low into an empty corner where Cleary retrieves. While Tyler Sloan moves to cut him off, Cleary passes over to Bertuzzi standing behind the net. Before the defense can get to him, Bert chips a saucer pass to Rafalski low in the corner. Raffi immediately turns it into the middle of the ice where Zetterberg awaits with cocked stick. As soon as the puck arrives, Zetterberg slams it over Neuvirth's shoulder. Cleary will get an assist on this play for his pass to Bertuzzi. Also, Bertuzzi and Zetterberg will each get a bonus plus. The forechecking these two do creates the turnover at center ice which is turned immediately back into the Washington zone.
1st Period 12:56 - Washington Goal: John Carlson (slap shot) from Jason Chimera and DJ King
33 seconds later, the Caps pull even as, this time, Washington is able to break the Detroit forecheck and move through center ice with speed. John Carlson joins the rush up ice as he gets an outlet pass and heads into the Detroit zone in a line with Beagle and King. Carlson throws a wrister at Howard which is stopped, but the crashing Washington forwards get to it for another chance. This one is stopped and kicked to the corner behind the net, where Beagle pokes it to Howard's other side and King collects it. Here, the Washington winger throws it up the middle, where it slightly deflects off Chimera's stick and right out front. Carlson comes down from the point to the top of the circle to release a one-timer. Datsyuk can't block it and Howard can't get all of it, as the puck goes off Howard's arm and over his shoulder. This is quite a bang-bang play and exactly what can happen when you don't slow a team down through the neutral zone. Part of me wishes that Datsyuk had blocked this shot, but the rest of me is glad that the Russian star didn't. However, looking at it objectively, I feel Datsyuk deserves an extra minus here. He needs to make sure one way or another that this shot doesn't end up on goal. The rest of the mistakes were pretty evenly spread between the forechecking forwards who didn't slow the rush earlier and the defensive pairing of Kindl-Ericsson which saw both D-men a little slow to turn when the momentum of the play carried them below the tops of the faceoff circles. No further adjustment.
1st Period 14:45 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (tip in) from Brian Rafalski and Mike Modano
This play starts in Detroit's end, where Brian Rafalski does a good job of taking a hit to tip a puck that's been rung around behind the net to Filppula in the middle to start a rush. Filppula heads the other way with Modano, Abdelkader, and Kindl. As Flip is pressured in the neutral zone, he goes laterally to Kindl, who takes it to the blue line and dumps in for Modano and Abdelkader to go retrieve. The two of them do really good work on the boards to regain and keep possession of the puck. After a couple of passes back and forth, Modano protects it up the boards and, just before running out of room, turns and gets a pass to Filppula at the half-boards. Here, Flip is able to pull it off the boards and face the inside of the ice to create the chance this cycle has been trying to create. A cross-ice pass from the half-boards to the opposite point finds Rafalski open. Rafalski fakes a slap shot on net and instead fires a low, tippable half-slap shot at the front of the net which Filppula gets his stick on to tip it in. Filppula will get an assist on his own goal for the pass to Rafalski. Also, Rafalski will get an extra half-assist and a bonus plus for his work in the Wings' zone to help this puck get up ice. Abdelkader's work down low to help free the puck up after the dump-in can't be overlooked and, as a result, Abby will get an assist.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the first period, the Capitals are putting pressure on in the Detroit zone as Semin carries it from behind Howard's net for what would be a good scoring chance, except for the hook Pavel Datsyuk puts on him (the ref calls tripping as Semin goes down). Datsyuk might have saved a goal, but he's not getting any favors here because he's the one who lost body position in the first place. Datsyuk gets a minus.
Penalty Adjustment: A Red Wings cycle leads to Zetterberg driving the center lane in the wake that Bertuzzi has left for him by bringing two defenders to the front of the net with him. Z gets a shot off that leads to a rebound, but Bertuzzi can't get to it through the stick hold that Boyd Gordon puts on him. Bertuzzi will earn a plus here and Zetterberg will earn a half-plus. The drive to the center causes havoc here with the D, who has to interfere to prevent a goal.
2nd Period 5:53 - Washington Goal: Alex Ovechkin (wrist shot) from Alexander Semin and Scott Hannan
After the end of the Gordon penalty, Dan Cleary fights through some good stick work by Brooks Laich to pull a puck off the boards and throws an attempt toward the front of the net looking for Franzen. Unfortunately, Laich gets his stick on Cleary's composite and takes all the mustard off the shot, so it flutters harmlessly toward the Washington net where Scott Hannan bumps it toward Ovechkin up the middle. Ovie misses the puck, but Semin gets to it first as the d-men back off, laying it back to the charming caveman to rush up ice with speed. Ovechkin skates into the Detroit zone, forcing Stuart back into the slot before firing a wrist shot through Stuart's legs and over Howard's blocker side shoulder. Let's face it, this is exactly what Ovie can do. I'm not going to make any adjustments here; it's a great play by Washington. I'd especially give credit to Laich for tying up a stick so well from between Cleary's legs without actually hooking him (which I thought he did at first).
3rd Period 9:53 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski
With Detroit on a power play thanks to Abdelkader outworking Mike Knuble on the boards in the Detroit end, the Wings go to work. Datsyuk wins the offensive zone faceoff, but after a rebound from a LIdstrom shot, Boyd Gordon clears down the ice. Howard goes out to set it up for Rafalski, who skates behind the net before coming forward on Detroit's standard power play rush. Raffi feels the pressure at center ice and drops to Datsyuk moving with speed. Datsyuk recognizes Z cutting into the zone on the wing and finds him with a cross-ice pass. Zetterberg gets it entering the zone and lowers his shoulder as he drives to the side of the net. Instead of taking the puck around behind the net, he lifts a backhand up off Neuvirth's noggin and into the tiny spot left in the top shelf. What a beautiful goal. I like the work done by the team and the shot by Zetterberg, but it's the power play doing their jobs exactly as they should. Abdelkader gets a plus for drawing the penalty.
+2 to Pavel Datsyuk: It's almost too bad that I have to leave him at an overall minus rating on the night because he played so well, but I feel it's warranted. He had a magnificent first period, except for the two gaffes. These pluses make up for those, but not for still being on the ice for the goal against.
+1.5 to Henrik Zetterberg: Same concept as Datsyuk for his great first period work making up for a penalty he took in the first, but Hank had that extra gear in this one. It was really great to see him playing like this again.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi, and Danny Cleary: Each one of these forwards was at one point a force both in the offensive and defensive zone. FIlppula and Bertuzzi were laying the body all over and Cleary was doing his thing fighting for pucks surrounded by two and often three guys.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm: More for defensive effort than the three listed above, these energy liners provided a huge spark on a fantastic Red Wings penalty kill effort.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart:This pair ate up a big chunk of Alex Ovechkin's ice time and really helped ensure that the Red Wings were the team that dictated the pace of this game. Stuart was the unfortunate one who saw the Ovie goal go through his legs, but that's just such a great shot. I love the answer he had for it later in the game when he backed off to near the same point and then laid a shoulder into the big Russian forward.
+0.5 to Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski: I also thought that both of these defensemen did great work in the Wings' defensive zone. Kronwall did a good job clearing pucks away and Rafalski used his wits to smartly angle players off of pucks at the boards. He's not a physical presence, but when he's mentally engaged like that, he can play very well around his own net.
-0.5 to Jiri Hudler: Not to break up this awesome like-fest we've got going on here while I fight to not give the entire team bonus pluses, but Hudler was very forgettable. He played 8:40 of ice time and, now that he's been separated from Datsyuk, I'm starting to worry again that he can't self-start enough to sustain good play.
Honorable Mentions:The Ericsson interference and Holmstrom "slash" were weak calls. E did ride a player to the boards away from the puck, but if the guy is content to ride with him without moving his feet, this is the kind of play that (rightfully) gets let go once per game. Holmstrom got two for a twig breaking at just the wrong time about two minutes after Filppula got pulled down after a faceoff. As for bonus ratings, if I didn't mention them above, I wanted to. Draper did good things; Franzen and Holmstrom looked more dangerous again as well. Kindl and Ericsson actually had what I'd consider good games, but they didn't stand out. I'd be happy if they could play every game in the postseason like this, but it wasn't worthy of special recognition.
Tomorrow, we turn around and do this shit all over again in Columbus.