Until further notice, I'm just going to assume every Red Wings game is going to end 3-2. The Wings extended their home winning streak to 16 straight with a close shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. It was a hard-fought effort by the Jackets, but Valtteri Filppula was able to roof his shootout attempt and the rest was history.
The worst call of the night was a linesman getting Ian White for an icing call for having a puck deflect off his skate and down the ice. The Zetterberg major was a bit harsh, but ultimately, it was well within the standard. Z didn't do what he did on purpose, but he did do it and the guy got hurt. Detroit went 1-for-4 on the power play while allowing Columbus to go 1-for-3. Overall, the Wings outshot Columbus 31-19 on the night.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
Penalty Adjustment: 6:32 into the game, Tomas Holmstrom goes off for hooking. This is a play where the Jackets get Rick Nash out against Detroit's fourth line and third defensive pair. Holmstrom and Ericsson are working on Nash at the half boards with Ericsson bodying him off low (Nash has his back to the zone to keep Ericsson off the puck). Holmstrom is covering inside and high to prevent Nash from coming off the boards with it. Nash threatens to do this and Holmstrom puts his stick into the midsection to earn himself a call. Holmstrom will get a minus.
1st Period 08:51 - Columbus Goal: Ryan Russell (wrist shot) from Derek Dorsett and Aaron Johnson
After the Holmstrom penalty expires, Columbus gets on the boards quickly. Columbus breaks out of their own zone as both teams complete a change. Pressure by Datsyuk creates a missed pass which forces a turnover to Franzen at center ice. Mule resets to Kronwall as the Wings set to move on transition. Kronwall goes back to Franzen to skate through the neutral zone. Mule has Dorsett chasing from behind and Pahlsson cutting off his angle to the front, so he goes to make a pass to Datsyuk skating back toward the Detroit zone on the wing. The pass is well behind Datsyuk and misses. Aaron Johnson is the first one on the loose puck and he gets it to Dorsett turning back around to enter the Wings' zone. The Jackets' winger carries in on the right wing and gets to the half-boards before throwing a wrister at the net. Howard doesn't have his glove quite in the right position as it comes in on him and as a result it bounces off of Howard to the front and open side of the net. Ryan Russell is the first man to get a stick on it as Mike Commodore is out front tracking the puck and Bertuzzi had just released Johnson to Commie's coverage. This is a bad goal by Howard, which will clear the minuses for Franzen, Bertuzzi, Datsyuk, Kronwall, and Commodore. However, Franzen will earn back his minus for the neutral zone giveaway that leads to the chance. Commodore will also earn back a half-minus for his failure to eliminate Russell's stick on the play. It's a bit bang-bang and a save you expect your goalie to make, but Commie has to eliminate the stick of the man coming in.
1st Period 11:34 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler
Detroit is able to tie it with some good defense and transition played more than 100 feet from their own net. Detroit gains possession on a Brad Stuart step-up in the neutral zone which leaves the puck for Filppula to pick up. Flip goes to Z near the Columbus blue line as the Jackets set up their trap defense. In response, Zetterberg dumps it in as Filppula crosses with speed to get to it. Sanford is first on the puck and he chips it up the boards around Filppula, whose coverage has drawn defenseman John Moore a little too far in to get it. Zetterberg comes in next and steps around Dorsett on the boards to push it back lower around Moore where Filppula can pick it back up. Z creates room for Flip by stepping to the inside, but he still gets cut off. Filppula goes back to Kronwall at the point, but the puck bounces over his stick and the Wings are forced to clear the zone to reset. Kronner gets it at the Detroit blue line and turns in to the middle where he throws a backhand pass around a forechecking Dorsett to Jiri Hudler skating back. Hudler cuts down the center stripe to the boards and lays a pass to Valtteri Filppula, who is completing a slightly narrower turn than the path Kronwall had just completed. Flip and Kronner are now moving up through center next to one another on the inside wing lanes. The forward in the center for Columbus, Ryan Johansen, angles towards Filppula as Tomas Kubalik comes on for Dorsett behind the play. Flip angles a pass through Johansen's legs to Kronwall crossing the blue line. Kubalik comes in behind Kronwall and hits him, but not hard enough to either knock him down or knock the puck away from him. Kronwall regathers the puck and flings a wrister from the slot right between the defensemen and past Sanford to tie it. This play is a fantastic example of how the Wings can successfully play a dump-and-chase game when need be and come at the opposition in waves on transition (which is why the writeup started two zone-clears before the goal happened). Losing the puck at the blue line for Kronwall was frustrating, but it actually ended up leading to the goal. While he won't pull any pluses for that, the way he reacts to start the puck the other way and smartly joins the rush will earn Kronwall a self-assist. Valtteri Filppula will get a bonus plus for his forechecking work and a bonus assist for how much he has to do with the way this play develops starting with the Stuart neutral zone step-up. Zetterberg's forechecking leads to two turnovers and will get him a bonus plus as well as a half assist. Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler will also get bonus half-pluses on the play in the entire-team transition game.
Penalty Adjustment: 2:30 into the 2nd period, Detroit gets a power play on an Aaron Johnson delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass. The general situation on these kinds of plays warrants that it's just a stupid play by a guy who should know better. While that remains true in this case, I believe the long and dangerous shift spent cycling in the columbus zone here by Jiri Hudler, Darren Helm, and Drew Miller has enough to do with Johnson's panicked state of mind that each of those three deserve a half-plus for forcing the error
2nd Period 08:43 - Columbus Goal (PP): Nikita Nikitin (wrist shot) from Antoine Vermette
The Penalty - Tomas Holmstrom (holding): Homer and Johnson chase a puck back into the Columbus end after Homer chips it back in. Johnson gets good body position on Holmstrom who forgets that it's no longer 2001 and grabs the guy in an attempt to get around him. This is an obvious and easily-called penalty. Holmstrom will get a minus.
Columbus regains the lead on a power play faceoff win. The Wings kill the first 3/4ths of the penalty, but Columbus gets an in-zone faceoff win to Jimmy Howard's left. Vermette pulls it back to Nikitin, who steps toward the middle and throws a wrister that deflects off Datsyuk high in the zone and beats Howard top corner on the blocker side. The only minuses on this play will go to Datsyuk and he'll get one-and-a-half of them. The whole minus will come from losing the faceoff cleanly while the half will come from the saying that if you can't block the shot or tip it out of harm's way, then at least don't tip it past your own goalie.
2nd Period 11:03 - Detroit Goal (PP): Nicklas Lidstrom (slap shot) from Niklas Kronwall
The Penalty - Grant Clitsome (hooking): This is another play where the entire forward line has a part in a penalty. Zetterberg and Filppula do some great forechecking work to recover a loose puck off Derek Brassard's stick deep in the zone. Flip carries to the corner and dangles Aaron Johnson enough to escape and make a pass out to Jiri Hudler, who had gained separation from Grant Clitsome and had a good scoring chance taken from him when Clitsome hooks Hudler's hands to prevent him from getting the shot off. Zetterberg will get a half-plus while Filppula and Hudler will each get a full plus on the play.
Detroit finally gets a power play goal with a well-aimed slapper from the point. Detroit gains control on the faceoff with Holmstrom picking up the puck and getting it back to Lidstrom at the point. Lids goes to Zetterberg on the far-side boards and Z takes a little trip down, then up the boards to get the play set up. Z then goes back up top to Kronwall, who immediately goes cross-point to Lidstrom for a slap shot. The low shot doesn't get through the traffic directly in front and bounces back to the middle of the ice where Sammy Pahlsson stands to try a backhanded clear. Fortunately, Lidstrom is directly in the way of this clearing attempt and is able to keep it in. Lidstrom goes over to Kronwall while Zetterberg skates in front of Dorsett to keep him from being able to pressure the puck. With the play reset, Kronner goes back to Lidstrom for another shot attempt. Lidstrom's shot this time is intentionally wide and right at tipping height to give Holmstrom a chance out front to work his magic. Homer doesn't get a tip on the puck, but it bounces off the springy end-boards and right back in front where it hits Sanford in the back and trickles into the net. I'm going to give Henrik Zetterberg a half-plus and a half-assist (non touch) for helping set the play and keeping Dorsett off the defensemen while they reset the play. Holmstrom will get a screener's assist and a half-plus. The plus is for retrieving the puck on the faceoff to keep it in the zone. Lidstrom will get a half self-assist. The two slappers he took were kept low enough to make them impossible to control off a block, which is what led to this goal being scored.
Penalty Adjustment: 10:09 into the third period, with Detroit on a power play thanks to a Colton Gillies high-stick, Henrik Zetterberg earns himself a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Nikita Nikitin. The two players are chasing a puck into the corner. Nikitin definitely has the inside track to get to it and slows up to brace as they go to the boards. Z has his hand on Nikitin's back and puts enough pressure to cause the Columbus D-man to lose his edge and hit the boards awkwardly. I say "pressure" because it's not really a full-on shove, but Zetterberg did do enough to cause this collision. Taking another look at it, I feel that the call is absolutely justified and Zetterberg will get a -1.5 on the play for it.
+1 to Darren Helm and Danny Cleary: I thought these two were excellent defensively, but they each also had 5 shots on goal. They may have been the best two forwards Detroit had.
+1 to Nick Lidstrom, Ian White, Brad Stuart, and Nik Kronwall: Lidstrom and White took the hard 5-on-5 minutes of handling Columbus' only offensive thread while Kronner and Stu ate up most of the PK minutes against the tough competition. The Wings' d-corps had a very good night.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson & Mike Commodore: Following up on how well the Wings' D-Corps played, these two had less responsibility, but still played well. Commodore had the one mistake on the goal, but played to his size. Ericsson continues to look more solid, if not still a bit too reticent to outright start or join a rush. I like how good he's getting at making sure the puck doesn't get by him when he steps up on the offensive boards.
-1 to Johan Franzen: You know, this one has been about a week coming, and it's all his own fault. If Franzen played with the same grit, speed, and determination during the first 60 minutes as he does in overtime, perhaps the Wings wouldn't have to keep going to the shootout.
-0.5 to Pavel Datsyuk: There was something off about him in this game. He had two uncharacteristic giveaways and didn't get back on guys quite as quickly as he should have. It's possible that his back may be hurting from carrying the team through so many iffy games this season.
+0.5 to Valtteri Filppula: Again, an incredible defensively responsible night and good work on the penalty kill by Filppula. Even when he's not creating as much offense, he's doing a great job of preventing it.
Henrik Zetterberg was on his way to a plus before he got ejected. Hudler played fairly well, but his refusal to shoot the puck under any circumstance is maddening. Drew Miller had one ugly turnover and one excellent defensive play to make up for it. Tomas Holmstrom almost pulled another minus to go with his two penalties for his in-zone play.
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