Huge Win, Huge Two Points: Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

How fun was that game?

The Red Wings came into Chicago sitting in third place of the Central Division and fifth in the Western Conference and left the Windy City leading the division and second in the West.

One of the biggest reasons the Wings got two huge points?

Ty Conklin.

That's not a typo. Conks was huge tonight. After letting in two goals in the first five minutes of the game, he was lights out. I just kept waiting for something to get past him throughout the game and time-and-time again he stepped it up and stopped the Hawks. Hopefully his performance tonight can be a turning point in his season. We all know how bad he's been. If Conklin can play more like he did tonight, the Wings can give Jimmy a day off more than once a month and avoid working him to death before the postseason.

As Conklin continued to play well so did the team in front of him. It seemed with every puck he stopped, the Red Wings' confidence grew even more. Unlike last night, the early deficit didn't cost the Wings the game. They clawed their way back to tie up late in the third period and eventually won the game in overtime. Filppula, Hank, Hudler, and Cleary all did their part on the second line to get the game tied up back at 2. Pav and Mule took care of the rest in overtime (with a little help from Ericsson).

In a division race, it's never great to have three point games, but tonight's extra point could be huge in the long run. It doesn't look like the Blues are going away and we know the Hawks aren't going anywhere. One point can make all the difference and winning in OT instead of a shootout gives the Wings another regulation/OT win in the tiebreaker column. All-in-all a great win for the Red Wings.

Bullets after the jump.

First Period:

  • I absolutely hate when the Red Wings play a team with a crappy power play or a power play that has been struggling a lot. They ALWAYS give up a PP goal. As soon as Jonathan Ericsson took the slashing penalty you just knew the Hawks would score...and they did.
  • Down 2-0 quick. It hasn't been a problem all season, but man, the last two nights with the slow starts...not cool. Wonder if we should blame their dad's for distracting them. Damnit, Mr. Shitbox!
  • Very scary play when Seabrook was tripped by Homer and he almost took a slap shot to the face. Holmstrom had no intention of trying to get Seabrook killed, of course. Just two players battling in front, but he did trip him, no doubt. Very glad Seabrook didn't get hurt badly there.
  • As a result, Seabrook retaliated and got two minutes in the box. This gave the Wings a very short five-on-three and they took advantage. Very nice passing by Hudler to Hank to Flip in front for the goal. Val has 14 goals and we're only halfway through the season. Thanks for finally breaking out, kid.
Second Period:
  • Much better period for the Wings than the first. Wings went two-for-two on the penalty kill in this one.
  • Andrew Shaw welcome to the NHL. You've just been Kronwalled.
  • Babcock seemed to be shuffling the defensive pairings (or it was just the result of the PK near the end of the period). It was Lidstrom/Kronwall, Stuart/Ericsson, Commodore/White, and Lidstrom/White at times. Or the Wings were just getting chances in the middle of line changes. Which at times they were. Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, and Helm had some nice chances as well as Zetterberg, Filppula and Franzen.
Third Period/Overtime:
  • Jimmy Hayes! Jimmy Hayes! Jimmy Hayes! Never heard a national announce crew talk about a third/fourth line AHL call-up more.
  • Hey another penalty shot against the Wings! Can't really argue too much with that call. Homer covered the puck in the crease, but it saved a goal. And guess who took the penalty shot? Jimmy Hayes! And he was Conk-Blocked into next week. Conklin with the massive save.
  • Maybe it's just me and maybe it's not the most popular opinion, but I like how Commodore is playing. Him and Ericsson continue to be a pair that you don't notice and that means they are doing their job. Ericsson's penalty early was dumb, but he played well after that. The two work well together and I like the idea that if needed Commodore could drop the gloves.
  • Mike Babcock's decision to put Danny Cleary on a line with Flip and Hank worked out well as the three combined to crash and bang in front of the net and tie the game up at two. Cleary gets credit for the goal. Sometimes you gotta get dirty in a game like this (and I'm not talking about Brad Marchand dirty). The Wings did just that to tie the game.
  • Don't remember seeing too much of Homer/Emmerton/Helm in the last 10 minutes of the game. Two players returning from injury and a rookie. Uncle Mike surely shortened his bench.
  • Holy hell, how great was that last 3-4 minutes of regulation?
  • In OT, Pav somehow uses his magic to come out of the corner for a wide open shot from the circle. It's stopped, but Ericsson and Franzen are down low screening the goalie and taking up space. A huge pile up of players and the puck is loose on the goal line. Pavel whiffs on the first attempt and regains it with tons of time and no one around him and scores from a near impossible angle right on the goal line and the Wings win the game.
Overall, just a huge freaking win for the Wings. They're still tied with the Hawks and Blues with 53 points, but have a game in hand on Chicago and more ROW wins (regulation/overtime wins) than St. Louis. It's a road win in a hostile environment against a good team and a division rival. An intense January game. These two points will go a long way come April.

Let's Go Red Wings.
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