Most of Detroit played host to most of Vancouver for a late-season tilt between the top two teams in the West. The game was well-played by both sides, who each showcased a tight team system. At the end though, Vancouver was able to capitalize on more mistakes than Detroit was, as they came away with the 2-1 victory.
The refs again struggled with consistency, as punches and charges from both sides were ignored while chintzy interference calls sent players to the box. Both teams had three power plays and both teams capitalized on one of those opportunities, both coming in the third period. Despite allowing 20 Vancouver shots in the 2nd, Detroit outshot Vancouver 40-33 in this one.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: With Patrick Eaves in the box for a chintzy interference penalty, Darren Helm pokes the puck beyond Henrik Sedin and heads off to the races, forcing the ugly Sedin to hook him. Helm will earn a plus.
2nd Period 6:31 - Vancouver Goal: Daniel Sedin (wrist shot) from Henrik Sedin and Dan Hamhuis
Vancouver gets it in and sets up shop behind the Detroit net. Daniel Sedin gets a pass through Zetterberg to give Kevin Bieksa a fantastic shot that has to be kicked to the opposite half-board. Hamhuis picks it up here and goes back to Henrik behind the net. Stuart chases Henrik out, but Daniel comes to his place behind the goal and takes the pass there. Daniel is given plenty of time to hold the puck behind the net while Lidstrom can only guard one half. Finally, Lidstrom chases him out, where Sedin is given enough room to move out front and try a cross-crease pass to Henrik. Instead, the puck goes in off Lidstrom's skate. The only player to get his minus cleared here is Drew Miller, who is covering his point through this play. Lidstrom will get an extra half-minus for playing too conservatively and allowing the play to develop around him. Both Zetterberg and Cleary will get extra half-minuses because neither recognized the need to assist Lidstrom down low on covering both sides of the net, and they were close enough to make out with each other when this goal was scored.
3rd Period 9:29 - Vancouver Goal (PP): Daniel Sedin (slap shot) from Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler
With Detroit on a penalty kill for a hi-stick which will earn Eaves a minus, the Canucks score on the power play. Henrik Sedin wins the faceoff and starts a cycle around the zone that culminates in a shot by Edler from the point that's the start of this entire play going tits-up for the Wings. Howard stops it, but the rebound sits out front. Ryan Kesler takes this as the perfect opportunity to fall on top of Jimmy Howard. The ref, who has a good enough eye on this play to not whistle it, sees the puck slide to the corner out of the scrum here. Draper gets to this puck first and panics with it. Instead of realizing he has no Vancouver player within ten feet of him, he throws a weak backhander up the boards which is picked off by Henrik Sedin. From there, he gathers it and goes from the blue line in one corner to his brother at the top of the opposite faceoff circle for a one-timer. Howard stops this shot to the far side with a kick-save, but the rebound is again picked up by Henrik Sedin. He goes back to Daniel on the far side again and, with Howard still down-and-out from making the previous save, fires a slap shot over the netminder for the game-winner. It's a little ridiculous that Kesler is allowed to jump on Howard and then trip Stuart on this play without being called for something, but he wasn't and that doesn't change the fact that Kris Draper made a horrible play here to help the Canucks score a goal. He has got to clear the zone with the puck on his stick. Draper's failure will earn him a minus-and-a-half.
3rd Period 11:38 - Detroit Goal (PP): Jiri Hudler (wrist shot) from
Detroit gets a power play here because Holmstrom does some good work in the neutral zone to force Mason Raymond to hook him. Holmstrom will get a plus for this. On the power play, Zetterberg wins the faceoff and the Wings immediately start buzzing with good passing around the zone. They nearly lose the zone when a Zetterberg centering attempt is picked off and shoveled up ice by Burrows, but Lidstrom blocks the clearing attempt and keeps it in at the center of the top of the zone. From here, Lidstrom goes to Z on the half-boards, who turns inside and dishes to Cleary at the net-side position. Cleary fires a shot that's stopped, but gets his own rebound and resets the play by passing to Hudler in the corner, who goes back to Rafalski at the point. Raffi plays catch with Zetterberg at the opposite half-board this time before he goes the opposite way and sets it on a tee for Lidstrom to blast a slapper in on net that through a Cleary screen that Luongo stops. Before Luongo can react to the rebound, Hudler is there to pick it up and put it past him. Cleary will earn a bonus plus on this play for his hard work. Hudler will also get an assist on his own goal. Both Rafalski's and Zetterberg's play are assist-worthy, making this a fully-scored power play. Finally, Lidstrom will get a bonus plus for the keep-in. That part of his game is so incredible to watch over and over.
Penalty Adjustment: With Howard pulled for the extra skater, Tomas Holmstrom goes for interference as he blatantly pushes his defender nearly into his own net. This is going to mean a minus for Holmstrom.
-1 to Niklas Kronwall: Another decent defensive performance overshadowed by his inexplicably falling down twice in the offensive zone leading to odd-man rushes.
+0.5 to Mike Modano: I really liked Modano's hustle in this game. The benefit is that I think he's still actually improving. He looks ready to catch fire.
+1 to Danny Cleary: I thought Cleary did a better job playing defense on the Sedins than anybody else. He consistently forced them to the boards and then off the puck.
+0.5 to Brad Stuart: First game without the jaw protector and Stuie had a good, solid game, including breaking up a goalie-deke opportunity by Mason Raymond in the first period.
+1 to Justin Abdelkader: Seven shots on goal, two hits, 80% of faceoffs won. Abdelkader definitely had a game to build on positively.
-1 to Brian Rafalski: He's played well since coming back from injury, but tonight, he turned the puck over twice in his own zone; the first was more egregious, happening at around 8:40 of the first period, when he kicked a pass from Salei right into the middle of the ice.
Honorable Mentions: The first Patrick Eaves interference penalty will not earn him a minus because of the three instances of interference after that which went uncalled for either side. The Kesler trip in the 2nd period was a stupid decision, but not a drawn call. I still really, really like Mursak's speed. Not as much as Helm's speed, but it's growing on me.