The Red Wings paid a visit to Raleigh for a game against the Hurricanes that would work merely toward the difference between 2nd and 3rd place in the West for the Wings while it would mean the difference between keeping playoff hopes alive and making Mid-April vacation plans for Carolina. The Wings were able to match the intensity well early, but after Henrik Zetterberg left the game with an undisclosed lower body injury, Detroit seemed more content to try to escape without further injury while Carolina would go on to pour it on 3-0.
I felt the penalties called in this game did a good job of telling the difference between the teams. Carolina scored once on the four penalties they earned, while the Wings were held of the scoreboard during the three power play chances they were gifted. The death-knell for the Wings in this one came as the Hurricanes' third goal of the game, which came off a rush immediately after the Wings' power play finished failing on a four-minute double minor. Detroit led on the shot chart all night long, finishing 36-26, but the mere seven shots they mustered in the third period was pretty telling.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Abdelkader and Ericsson each get minuses in the first period. Abby gets a bit overzealous with his stick work 4:08 into the period and goes off for his tripping call, while Ericsson waits until 17:30 before he gets walked by Erik Cole and in the process of laying out to try a last-ditch effort to sweep the puck off of him, takes his feet out. I like the play by Ericsson to react, but he's reacting to his own mistakes.
2nd Period 4:04 - Carolina Goal (PP): Derek Joslin (slap shot) from Cory Stillman and Eric Cole
Carolina gets a penalty as Justin Abdelkader uses his free hand to grab hold of Jeff Skinner. Abdelkader will get a minus for this. On the power play, Stillman picks up an Eric Staal dump-around at the half-boards and funnels it to Joslin at the point. Derek Joslin pulls the puck off the boards and walks toward the middle where he fires a slap shot through a screen in front. When Joslin gets the puck from Stillman, he has all of this room because of a Patrick Eaves pinch to create an out-manned situation at the boards. Eaves' failure to prevent this pass will earn him a half-minus.
2nd Period 18:47 - Carolina Goal: Jeff Skinner (wrap around) from Eric Staal
Holmstrom tries to stick handle at the Carolina blue line and turns the puck over, sending the Canes the other way. Staal pokes it to Skinner in the neutral zone to skate past the Detroit blue line. Skinner stops short on Lidstrom and bounces a puck off the boards for Staal to pick up while Skinner goes to the net. The rebound off Staal's shot goes directly to Skinner, who comes flying in to pick it up and carry behind the net to beat Howard to the far post for the wrap-around goal. Holmstrom will pick up an extra minus for the turnover that leads to this goal. Filppula and Franzen will be cleared of their minuses. Stuart will pick up an extra half-minus. He had a chance to beat Skinner to the far post and meet him there with authority, but got off a half-step too slowly on it.
3rd Period 5:44 - Carolina Goal: Erik Cole (snap shot) from Eric Staal
At the end of the four-minute penalty, Carolina gets the puck off a missed shot and moves out of their own zone against a tired power play group, rushing 3-on-2. Eric Staal finds Cole streaking up the wing for a one-timer that gets through before Howard can get a glove on it. There's really not a lot else to say about this play. Staal was lucky enough to be moving in the right direction to pick this puck off the boards and the Canes were fortunate enough that this rush started in the exact second that Drayson Bowman was coming out of the box to make it 3-on-2. No adjustment.
Penalty Adjustment: 8:32 into the third, Mike Modano gets careless with his stick and goes to the box. Pretty straightforward call here. Modano gets a minus.
-0.5 to Nicklas Lidstrom: I didn't feel that Lidstrom played up to his usual standard. At one point in the first, he got absolutely walked by the speed of Erik Cole. It's a great play by the Carolina forward, but that can't happen.
+0.5 to Henrik Zetterberg: Can I give a half-plus to a guy who only played 4:29? You betcha I can. Up until his injury, Zetterberg and Datsyuk were both playing exceptionally well. Zetterberg leaving this game had a lot to do with what I feel ended up costing Detroit the victory.
-1 to Tomas Holmstrom: The turnover that led directly to a goal was just the most memorable of his four. He made one very good play to drag a puck to the middle and clang one off the post, but that was the one shining moment in a game filled with mistakes.
-0.5 to Danny Cleary: I didn't feel Cleary did a very good job establishing himself in this game in any of the three zones. He was unimpressive.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: of all of the best plays made in the Red Wings' zone by defensemen, Ericsson had several of them. He's getting a half plus to clear a portion of the minus he earned for the tripping penalty.
+1 to Brad Stuart: Stuie was the only defender on the night who had an answer for Erik Cole's speed. I liked his answer too: "Hit it."
Honorable Mentions: The Staal stick-slash was another of those ridiculous penalties and I don't think Rafalski did anything special to have drawn in.