Detroit, missing two of their top goal scorers faced off against Pittsburgh, suffering the same affliction, and somehow the teams managed to combine for eight goals. The Penguins jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Red Wings were able to pull their heads out of their collective asses and tie the game up. Ultimately, Detroit couldn't complete the comeback, losing in a shootout and creating another undeserved loss for Joey MacDonald in the process.
Special teams became a story in this game, as the Red Wings held the Penguin's power play off the scoreboard, but gave up a shorthanded goal in the 2nd period. Fortunately, during their comeback, they were able to crack the league's best penalty kill for two goals on their four chances as a big part of the rally effort. By the end of the night, the Wings had outshot the Penguins 41-25, which is no surprise when a team has to fight back from being down by four goals.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: 11:56 into the first period, as the Penguins threaten in Detroit's end, Jonathan Ericsson lets himself get tied up by Kunitz and gives him a hip toss to the ice to free himself from the clingy ex-duck. Not a smart move (surprise!) by the Rig. Ericsson gets a minus.
1st Period 15:14 - Pittsburgh Goal: Pascal Dupuis (backhand) from Chris Conner and Jordan Staal
The Penguins break up a Red Wings' forecheck by using the awesome idea of "move the puck where they aren't" and, thanks to a bad decision to pinch by Holmstrom, bring it in on a 3-on-2. Staal brings it in through center and dumps it to Dupuis in the Wing while he crashes the net. Dupuis fires a big slap shot from the top of the circle that goes over the net, but takes a strange bounce and ends up in the corner. Chris Conner beats Modano to it and pokes it to Dupuis behind the net on the other side. Rafalski is a little slow to react as Dupuis brings it out front and puts a backhand on net that goes right through Howard. This is a bad goal for Howard, however, I'm going to let Rafalski, Kindl, Modano, and Holmstrom all keep their minuses. The two D-men do not react well in the zone and I'm mad at Homer because he's the guy who pinched in on the forecheck after Kindl had already done so; this helped lead to the odd-man rush the other way. Modano also lost the puck on the forecheck that led to the rush and let the poke by Conner through him. Filppula will have his minus cleared. He was in defensive position and had just come on the ice for Zetterberg, so there was no point in time that this play was his fault. Speaking of Zetterberg though, Z will get a half-minus for his part in what led to the Penguins' odd-man rush.
1st Period 19:17 - Pittsburgh Goal: Chris Kunitz (wrist shot) from Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang
After a pretty harmless shot wide of the net that Bertuzzi gathers on his own half-boards while the Penguins pressure weakly in the zone, Bert throws a pass to Lidstrom that doesn't connect. Letang outhustles Cleary to the puck at the top of the zone and kicks it to Dupuis, who has advantageous position on Lidstrom at the boards. Dupuis brings it around to face the middle and throws another harmless-looking shot. Howard kicks the rebound straight out front though where Kunitz, who has gotten behind Rafalski, picks it up, sweeps it around a flailing Howard, and deposits it into the back of the net. The rebound control here is unacceptable and this will be counted as another bad goal. Unfortunately, just like the first, I can't just clear all the minuses and call it Howard's fault. The bad pass by Bertuzzi, the bad angle by Lidstrom, the bad hustle by Cleary, and the bad job getting back to defend by Rafalski each have a direct impact on this play. In fact, Zetterberg cleanly losing the faceoff outside the zone and then being close enough to Kunitz to take him down and failing at that makes the total failure of the Red Wings here complete. Nobody will have his minus cleared. In fact, both Cleary and Rafalski will earn extra half-minuses for being completely behind their men while Bertuzzi gets an extra half-minus for a crappy pass.
Penalty Adjustment: halfway through the second period, as the Wings try to get back into the game, Justin Abdelkader hustles for a puck at the boards in on Matt Niskanen and gets boarded for his troubles. It's a good hustle play by Abby and a stupid move by the Penguins' defenseman to finish his check here after he saw numbers. Abdelkader will get a half-plus.
2nd Period 10:51 - Pittsburgh Goal (SH): Pascal Dupuis (wrist shot) from Jordan Staal and Ben Lovejoy
With Niskanen in the box, the Wings give up one shorthanded odd-man rush, then bring it up the ice where Modano dumps the puck in. Johnson slows it down for Lovejoy, who tries to throw it up the boards, but it's stopped by Fillpula. Staal, with help from Dupuis pressures Flip at the line while Modano and Kronwall stand in amazement at the shit going down five feet from them. The Penguins end up poking it past Filppula at the point and Dupuis starts up ice with Letang joining on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush against Stuart. He fakes on Howard, but loses the puck off his stick to the boards before he can get a shot off. Fortunately for him, the puck comes off the boards straight to him and he manages to sweep it in from behind the net before Howard can get back to his post. I don't particularly like this goal either, as Howard was cheating off his post, but this was two consecutive odd-man rushes against with the man advantage. I really don't like how nobody but Stuart recognizes that Filppula is in trouble here and steps back. I know that if Flip comes away with it, it's all but a guaranteed goal, as the Penguins' PK was playing very aggressively, but sometimes it's worth it to back off. Modano will get an extra minus for being the closest player in proximity and not moving sooner to help head off this rush.
2nd Period 13:16 - Pittsburgh Goal: Tyler Kennedy (backhand) from Chris Kunitz and Craig Adams
The Penguins move the puck into the Wings' zone with speed thanks to what looks like a bit of an early change in the long-bench period. Todd Bertuzzi loses a board battle in the corner with Craig Adams, allowing him to come off the boards to Kunitz cutting in on the faceoff dot. Salei moves to cut Kunitz off, but he throws a backhand to the front of the net, where Kennedy has slipped Kindl's coverage. The puck slides in on Howard, but the rebound sits there for Kennedy to pick up, move around Howard, and roof the Penguins' fourth goal in. This rebound control is again bad enough to call it a bad goal by Howard. On the result, I'm going to clear Modano's and Filppula's minuses. Bert losing the board battle is a big enough sin for him to keep his minus. Kindl losing Kennedy is bad enough that, even with the soft goal, he'll keep his minus and get an extra half.
2nd Period 17:41 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Danny Cleary and Brad Stuart
Later in the 2nd period, Detroit shows a bit of life (and gets a bit of luck) in scoring their first goal. Zetterberg throws a cross-ice pass from the boards at the center line that barely misses springing Cleary on a breakaway behind Letang. Instead, Cleary races to pick it up behind the net and pokes it to the corner before being hit by the Norris candidate. Here, Zetterberg completely outmuscles and outclasses Mike Rupp in taking it off him in the corner with room to step toward the front. Z comes out to the dot and, as the Wings crash the net, throws a low backhander that finds its way off Letang's skate and through Johnson's pads. I really like the pass attempt by Z to gain the zone and will give Zetterberg an assist for it.
Penalty Adjustment: On the first shift after the Zetterberg goal, Todd Bertuzzi gets a little overzealous in trying to help his two overmatched defensemen, Rafalski and Listrom, deal with the menace that is Chris Kunitz forechecking all alone. Bertuzzi rides Kunitz into the boards away from the puck and sits for two minutes to think about what he's done. This will earn Bert a minus.
3rd Period 1:57 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom
Early in the third, the Red Wings get back onto the momentum of catching up as Modano dumps the puck in on a cross-corner pass that Filppula gets to first. Flip skates it around behind the net and, seeing he has room to bring it out front, does just that before firing a backhander over the net that Modano retrieves on the far side. Mo carries it up the boards switching positions with Stuart before whipping the puck lower into the zone. Holmstrom and Niskanen get there at the same time, but Homer has inside position and kicks it up the boards where Stuart picks it up and moves it to the corner with little bit of room. As soon as Filppula sees this, he rushes the net, where he gets behind Deryk Engelland to receive the Stuart centering pass. Filppula goes skate-to-stick with it and throws it under Johnson as the big goalie moves laterally to cut it off. The puck gets through Johnson and would actually have gone out the other side, except in trying to shut down the low area, Johnson ends up accidentally kicking it in. Modano will get an assist for the two wise dump-ins. Filppula will get a bonus half-plus for his clever playmaking here.
3rd Period 8:06 - Detroit Goal (PP): Danny Cleary (tip in) from Niklas Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom
Seven minutes into the period, Kris Letang goes to the box for cross-checking Darren Helm. This isn't a drawn penalty, but it puts the Wings a man up nonetheless. The Penguins' PK is able to kill off half of this penalty, but the Wings' first unit comes back on for an offensive zone faceoff after a puck is cleared out of play. Zetterberg wins this faceoff cleanly back to Lidstrom, who lets Cleary come from the opposite wing to the front of the net before going D-to-D to Kronwall for a one-timer that Cleary tips past Johnson for the third goal. Zetterberg will get an assist for the clean faceoff win.
3rd Period 10:27 - Detroit Goal (PP): Mike Modano (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Nicklas Lidstrom
A minute after the Cleary goal, Detroit goes back on the power play as Helm runs around the neutral zone like a tasmanian devil to retrieve the puck and create a chance. Here, he forces Alex Kovalev to take a hooking penalty. Helm will get a plus here. On this power play, The Penguins are able to kill most of it off, but the Wings pull even as the 2nd power play unit uses the corner of the ice below the top of the circle to Johnson's left as their own personal shooting gallery. Finally, Kris Letang lifts a high clearing attempt over the pressure, but Lidstrom picks it off in the neutral zone and starts the Wings right back into the zone with a pass to Filppula on the Wing. Filppula has a little bit of room to carry here thanks to Holmstrom driving the center lane to force Niskanen to back off. Talbot also has to respect Filppula, so he can't play too aggressively at him on the boards. Rafalski floating through the high slot gathers Craig Adam's attention and keeps him a little too high in the zone. Meanwhile, the pass off of coverage of Holmstrom from Niskanen to Letang keeps the defense a little too low in the zone. Filppula uses this room to fire a cross-ice laser pass to Modano's tape where the veteran snaps it off Johnson's chest protector and in for the game-tying goal. Holmstrom tying up the defensemen here is worth an assist, while Rafalski will get a half-assist for creating the space behind Adams for Modano to sneak into. Lidstrom will get a half-plus for recognizing the clear early enough to cut it off before it gets all the way down the ice.
Penalty Adjustment: With fewer than four minutes to go in the third, the Wings try to pressure again, but a puck comes to Kronwall at the point that he can't dump back in past Chris Conner. The feisty winger blocks the dump in and pushes it past Kronwall before heading up the zone and presumably off to the races on a breakaway. Kronwall has no choice here but to step in front of Conner to stop this. Kronwall will get a minus.
-1 to Niklas Kronwall: He led the Wings in ice time and officially, was the only player on the night with a plus rating, but he did not handle the puck well and, at one point in the 2nd period, lost the zone on a power play under absolutely no pressure. That's not the only reason he's getting it, but rather more indicative of the focus he exhibited.
+1 to Valtteri Filppula: When things were at their darkest for the Wings, he was the one who was noticeably moving his feet and trying to make a difference. That didn't wear off as the game went on and I was very glad to see him rewarded with a goal:
+1 to Darren Helm: All over the ice again, Helm was an instrumental part to the Red Wings' comeback. In fact, I would have liked to have seen him get a chance in the shootout.
+1 to Mike Modano: Filppula wasn't acting alone on his line and part of the reason he had so much room to work with was the hard work of Modano up and down the ice.
Honorable Mentions: Henrik Zetterberg made a couple of fantastic defensive plays, but he also had two very egregious offensive miscues. I appreciate how hard he plays defense, but as the de facto best offensive player on the ice, I wanted more out of him. Lidstrom and Stuart had as many good plays as bad, as they each struggled with forecheckers in their own zone, but played well in the offensive areas. For penalties, Jordan Staal's hook on Filppula in the first period was pretty chintzy and not worth an adjustment. I like the move Flip made on Letang at center ice to get into the zone, but it was a weak call.