What shouldn't have been, but almost was--Red Wings 4, Penguins 5 SO

The talk of the NHL today was Matt Cooke's suspension for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. However, Cooke's team still had  to play tonight without him and it turned out to be one incredible game.

Pascal Dupuis scored on Jimmy Howard at 15:14 of the first period to open the scoring for the two teams. Dupuis picked up a loose puck from behind the net and skated it out in front of Jimmy Howard. Howard was hugging the post very tightly, but Dupuis' backhand shot somehow found its way through the tiniest of openings and into the net for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.

Later in the period, Ben Lovejoy takes a shot from the point and Howard kicks it out front. Alexei Kovalev picks up the rebound and pass it off to Jordan Staal on the side of the net. Darren Helm covered part of the goal and forced Staal to hit the side of the net. 

But where Jordan Staal missed, Chris Kunitz followed through. The Wings tried to clear the puck up the boards, but Kris Letang stepped up and kept the puck in. Pascal Dupuis picks up the loose puck and shoots the puck on net. Howard is out at the top of the crease and gives up a rebound straight out in front. Kunitz picked the puck up and hit the rebound past a scrambling Howard as Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg tried to take him out of the play.

Howard had given up 2 goals on 8 shots in the first period.

Follow the jump for the rest of the wild finish, video, analysis and shot charts.

Arron Asham  and Jakub Kindl locked up going to the net off a Pittsburgh offensive zone face-off win. Craig Adams put the shot on net at 4:22 of the second period, but the referee deemed Asham interfered with Howard's ability to make a save. I think the call was pretty bad in all honesty as Asham was pushed into Howard by Kindl, but the ref saw it as interference so the goal wasn't allowed.

Matt Niskanen was sent to the penalty box for boarding Justin Abdelkader. With the Red Wings on the power play, Jordan Staal got a pass from Ben Lovejoy and put it through his legs to Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis took the puck down the ice with another Penguin to create a 2-on-1. Dupuis fanned on his centering pass, but was able to pick the puck up off the boards behind Howard's net and bank a shot off his skate and in for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 Pittsburgh lead. 

Tyler Kennedy scored about 3 minutes later off of a soft rebound by Howard. Adams had the puck on the boards to Howard's left and with Todd Bertuzzi on his back pressuring him, he dumped it off to Kunitz. Kunitz fed a soft backhanded shot on net that Howard should have easily held on to, but instead a rebound kicked right onto the stick of Kennedy. Kennedy skated across the crease and backhanded the puck over the outstretched goalie for a 4-0 Pittsburgh lead.

Henrik Zetterberg started the comeback for the Red Wings late in the second period as he dumped a puck into the offensive zone for Dan Cleary to chase. Cleary beat Kris Letang to the puck and fed it along the boards to Zetterberg. Zetterberg outworked Mike Rupp in the corner to bring the puck out to the face-off circle. Zetterberg backhanded a shot on net that Brent Johnson should have easily saved, but it went in the back of the net for Zetterberg's 21 of the year. 

Valtteri FIlppula cut Pittsburgh's lead in half early in the second period. Brad Stuart dumped the puck back low and Tomas Holmstrom went to get it. Holmstrom got the puck back up the boards a bit and Stuart came in to play the puck. As Stuart came in, James Neal and Dustin Jeffrey closed on him while Filppula spun off of Neal and towards the net. Filppula outmuscled Deryk Engelland to the net and got enough of his stick on the puck to get it through Johnson's five-hole. Johnson lightly kicked the puck into the back of the net at 1:57 of the third period. Holmstrom got his 500th career point on Filppula's goal. 

The Red Wings weren't done yet though and Kris Letang crosschecking Darren Helm put the Red Wings on the power play with 13:00 left in the game. With under a minute to go in the power play, Henrik Zetterberg won an offensive zone face-off back to Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom whipped the puck across the blueline to Niklas Kronwall. Kronwall fired on net and Cleary deflected it past Johnson to bring the Red Wings within one.

About a minute after Cleary's goal, Kovalev took a holding penalty and was sent to the box. About a minute and twenty seconds into the power play, Mike Modano scored to cap the rally. The goal (available below) happened Lidstrom found Filppula at the blueline and Filppula skated the puck into the zone. With Holmstrom going to the net and Rafalski coming across the ice towards Filppula for support, the wide side of the ice was open and Modano had a wide open shot once the pass came across from Filppula. The goal was Modano's 3rd as a Red Wing and tied the game at 4 with about half the third period to go.

Kronwall interfered with Chris Connor late in the third period to give the Penguins a power play and a chance to win the game in regulation. Instead, the Red Wings had the best chance to win it when Helm and Abdelkader had a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance. Helm dished the puck to Abdelkader and Abdelkader got it back to Helm for a quick shot on net, but Johnson made a spectacular save to preserve the tie.

Little happened in overtime, but the shootout breakdown is below.

:: SHOOTOUT SUMMARY ::

  • Todd Bertuzzi went first for the Red Wings and started with his normal incredibly slow and off-speed approach. Towards the end of the attempt Bertuzzi sped it up a bit, threw a deke in and went backhand on Johnson. Johnson saved the shot. 0-0.
  • Alex Kovalev went fore-hand backhand on Joey MacDonald, but MacDonald made a spectacular glove save to keep it 0-0. 
  • Mike Modano was Detroit's next shooter and he skated in with some speed before ripping a shot high at Johnson. Johnson made a swooping glove save. 0-0.
  • Kris Letang was Pittsburgh's second shooter and he put a pretty good deke on MacDonald, but MacDonald poke-checked the puck away from Letang and into the corner. 0-0.
  • Dan Cleary was Detroit's third shooter and he skated from Johnson's left. Cleary bent his stick a little too much and it snapped during his shot on goal, Johnson had an easy pad save to make. 0-0.
  • James Neal was Pittsburgh's third shooter and scored the decisive goal as he wristed a shot high past MacDonald to the gloveside. 0-1 Pittsburgh.
Detroit plays next on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks. The point salvaged tonight puts the Red Wings at 95 points on the season. Joey MacDonald was hit with the loss.

:: ANALYSIS ::
  • What a game. If you weren't on the edge of your seat at the end of that game, there's no hope for you.
  • There was no Pavel Datsyuk or Sidney Crosby, no Johan Franzen or Evgeni Malkin, but the fans in attendance at the Joe got one hell of a game tonight, even if it ended in a shootout loss for the home team. 
  • This game is one for both teams to study in the film room. The Penguins can look at how well they did in the first two periods while the Red Wings can look at how poorly they did in those two periods. In the third period, the Red Wings can look at what they did and be damn proud of how they battled back.
  • Did the Red Wings rally or did the Penguins wear out at the end of a back-to-back.? I'm going with rally.
  • I'm rarely happy with the attitude of "at least the Wings got a point" but tonight is the exception. The Wings stole a point in their own building...I'll take it.
  • This may be exactly what the Wings needed heading to the post-season though. A scratch and claw point against a tough, physical and skilled team that happens to be a rival. They got down early but battled back when it looked impossible to salvage anything at all. 
  • Valtteri Filppula was outstanding tonight. Filppula was consistently one of the hardest workers on the ice and he was rewarded with a two-point night. Filppula also won 10 of 15 face-offs, including 4 of 5 against Jordan Staal. 
  • Mike Modano was pretty good in his own right tonight too. It was good to see him get another goal and even better that it was the tying goal. Modano 
  • Both Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom quietly contributed 2 assists each. But watch the CSSI to see why they weren't included in the POTG nominees.
  • Ruslan Salei only skated for 6:28 tonight...thems is baby legs.
  • The Red Wings out-shot the Penguins 41-25 on the night, including a 14-5 third period. In the third period, the Penguins went almost 11 minutes without a shot on goal.
  • Poor Joey MacDonald. He came in and played very well, not allowing a goal and giving the Red Wings a chance to get back in the game. He technically gets hit with the loss tonight (although a OT/SO loss).
  • Minus of the night: Jimmy Howard ended the night with 4 goals allowed on 15 shots, a .733 SV%. Howard struggled with rebounds all game long and was a little too aggressive for the way the Penguins were passing the puck.
  • Plus of the night: the anteaters.
  • Shocking stat of the night: Mike Modano had seven shots on goal to lead the Red Wings (and Penguins for that matter) in that department.

:: GOAL OF THE NIGHT ::

:: SHOT CHARTS ::

Detroit:

Detpit-det_medium

Pittsburgh:

Detpit-pit_medium

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