Detroit skated into Nashville on Saturday night fighting a handful of injuries, illnesses, and fatherhoods to take on a Predators team trying to overcome their own crushing inconsistencies to make a push for the playoffs. The Wings entered the game with only 17 skaters and in the first period, the Predators did their best to try to lower that number by a few. By the end, the Red Wings only scoring one goal which the refs allowed to stand made the difference in this 3-1 loss.
The thing about the reffing in this game is that they were consistent with the "let 'em play" non-calls on various hooks, holds, picks, and other forms of interference. The part that gets to me wasn't this, but the fact that their "let 'em play" attitude is horrible for the game of hockey when players are going to elbow people in the chin from the blind side or chase people up the ice to punch them in the back of the head without being punished for it. Nashville played a physical game where they crossed the line several times and were not reigned in. This game had the potential to become a black mark on hockey and former director of refereeing Stephen Walkom had his dirty fingerprints all over it. I'll be happy when he leaves the profession for good. As for the power plays, Detroit went 1-for-2 thanks to another waived-off goal on Holmstrom's reputation, while Nashville went 1-for-3. The Wings outshot Nasvhille 40-39 in this one.
Jimmy Howard had another great game in net for Detroit. He allowed two of Nashville's three goals (the third came on the empty net), but neither of those were soft. Meanwhile, he made four big saves of his own. At one point in the first period, he was called on to stop three odd-man rushes in the span of two minutes. He also had two incredible saves on David Legwand in the 2nd period that forced him to move laterally and get onto a low shot very quickly. His rating on the night is a +4.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: Seventeen minutes into a first period run by refs from the WWE, Patrick Eaves puts together the puzzle and takes down Shea Weber, knowing full well that the big lug is a meatheaded retaliator. Weber goes to the box for roughing and Eaves gets a plus.
1st Period 19:38 - Detroit Goal (PP): Danny Cleary (tip in) from Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi
Detroit gets a second power play here as Sergei Kostitsyn is unaware that Marty Erat had already used up the Predators allotment of allowable elbows earlier and he goes to the box. Off the faceoff, Bertuzzi slides the puck to Kronwall at the point. Kronner takes a step toward the center of the ice to move the defensemen before going back to Bertuzzi on the half-boards. Bert immediately turns and goes low to Zetterberg near the side of the net. Z shows great patience here, watching as the Shane O'Brien goes down in front of him to block the passing lane and then moves around him before sliding a pass to Cleary on the back door to tip it in over Rinne. Kronwall will get an assist on this one for his part in this goal. Zetterberg will also get a bonus half-assist and half-plus. The faceoff win and patience exhibited at the side of the net really make this play happen.
2nd Period 08:42 - Nashville Goal: Blake Geoffrion (tip in) from Patrik Hornqvist and Matt Halischuk
The Predators start a pretty harmless-looking breakout as Geoffrion comes out of the Nashville zone and passes it to Halischuk at center ice, who goes to Hornqvist up the wing. The Predator's forward brings it strongly along the boards where he bodies off Rafalski before throwing it at the front of the net. Geoffrion is there behind Stuart waiting for the pass, where Boom Boom's progeny tips it in past Howard. Eaves, Draper, and Helm will each have their minuses cleared, as this play is on the defensemen. Rafalksi will get an extra minus for not eliminating Hornqvist at the boards or at least preventing him from making this pass. Stuart also gets an extra minus for letting Geoffrion get behind him and not cutting off the centering attempt.
3rd Period 08:12 - Nasvhille Goal (PP): Jonathon Blum (wrist shot) from Patrik Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn
Nashville's power play comes as a result of a Henrik Zetterberg tripping call. Zetterberg will get a minus for taking down his man, but I'm also going to give Todd Bertuzzi a minus on the same play for turning the puck over twice and leading to the play where Zetterberg had to trip a guy up. On the power play, Nashville dumps the puck in where Ericsson gets outmanned behind the net and Lidstrom gets a stick on a pass, but can't get it past Cody Franson at the blue line. Franson goes to Kostitsyn at the side, where he walks the puck in and waits for Hornqvist to step away from his man for a shot from the slot. Ericsson blocks this attemptt, but the puck takes a lucky bounce for Nashville and lands directly on Blum's stick for the game-winner from the back door. No Adjustment.
Penalty Adjustment: Later in the third period, with Detroit trying to pull even, Helm gets the puck in his own end and goes coast-to-coast with it, eventually stepping around Ryan Suter for a chance on net that's only prevented when Suter takes him down. Helm will get a plus for this.
3rd Period 19:31 - Nashville Goal (EN): David Legwand (wrist shot) from Ryan Suter and Nick Spaling
The Wings have Howard pulled for the extra attacker late and, coming off a timeout and an offensive zone faceoff, give up the goal that ices it. Cleary loses the faceoff on the scramble and Suter steps in to pick it up and walk around the scrum. Suter finds Legwand moving through center and gets it to him for the 60-foot wrist shot to ice the game for the Predators. I'm still trying to figure out why Cleary took this one instead of Zetterberg. No adjustment.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall: Kronner had a very solid performance all around, but perhaps the best part of his game was doing his best curling impression to get Patrick Eaves off the ice after he blocked a Shea Weber slapshot on a penalty kill. Kronner knew they needed a full complement of penalty killers and did a good job getting him to the bench.
+1 to Mike Modano: I'd like for him to be able to hit wide-open nets a little better, but twice in this game, he was asked to play the role of defenseman and twice he ended a Nashville rush by doing just that.
Honorable Mentions: The Dan Cleary "hold" in the second period was not called within the standard of this game, so I don't believe he deserves a minus. The team played pretty well defensively, but with pretty much everybody not given bonus credit/blame on a goal or penalty or listed in the bonus ratings, the game was highs and lows. Nobody stood out in a particularly good or bad way.