The Detroit Red Wings extended their home win streak to 22 consecutive games by defeating the Nashville Predators 2-1 in a playoff-intensity game, handing the Preds only their third regulation loss to the Central Division. Interestingly enough, all three of those losses came at the hands of the Red Wings. This was a highly-entertaining low-scoring game.
The refs let a lot of stuff go in the interest of keeping the game going. That very nearly cost the Red Wings when a flurry of activity (and obstruction) went down deep in the Nashville zone, leading to a 2-on-1 coming the other way. Neither team scored a power play goal, which benefited Detroit, as they only failed one time to causing the Nashville PP squad to fail twice. Detroit lost the 2nd period shot competition by one, but won the other two handily and came away with a 31-21 advantage.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 12:44 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Todd Bertuzzi and Pavel Datsyuk
The Predators get some zone time as Ryan Suter nearly gets a breakaway that Joey MacDonald and Ian White combine to stop. The Preds regain possession and get it around to Shea Weber at the top of the zone. Weber winds up for a slap shot, but Datsyuk gets his stick in on it and deadens it to the corner. Here, Lidstrom plays strong on Nick Spaling to wipe him off along the boards. The puck rolls weakly behind the two of them where Zetterberg gets it first and breaks the pressure of Kostitsyn by immediately passing it to Datsyuk on the boards above the play. Pavel carries it out of the zone in a 2-on-2 against Weber and Suter with Todd Bertuzzi joining on the far wing. Datsyuk gets up enough speed to give Weber a bit of a move which allows him to get deep in the Nashville zone uncontested. From the circle, Pavel fakes driving the net in favor of spinning back to the boards to let the play catch up behind him. While he's spinning, Pavel loses an edge and goes down. Weber sees this as an opportunity to pounce on the puck, but he's too slow. Before Weber gets there, Datsyuk (while still lying on the ice) gets a pass off the boards to Bertuzzi cutting across the zone into the faceoff circle. Bert carries it to the low point on the red line between the net and boards with Ryan Suter caught in no-man's land. Suter tries to block the pass, but can't prevent the puck from getting to Johan Franzen's stick all alone in front for the easy put-away. First off, I'm going to give the pluses on this play back to Lidstrom and White for doing the defensive work to free the puck up before changing on the ensuing Detroit rush. Kindl and Ericsson will lose their pluses. Additionally, Zetterberg will get a plus and an assist (third) to go with an assist (fourth) to Lidstrom. Datsyuk's creativity will be good for a plus and a bonus half-assist. I know he didn't mean to fall, but he was creative enough to take a bad thing and turn it into a positive by taking advantage of Weber's aggression.
Penalty Adjustment: About 16 minutes into the first, the Predators get a bit sloppy in their own zone and the Miller, Helm, Kindl, Abdelkader group on the ice does some absolutely fantastic work creating chances in the zone which culminates in a Ryan Ellis hooking call. I'm going to give a plus to Helm and Miller along with a half-plus to Kindl and Abdelkader.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Less than a minute into the Wings' power play, Henrik Zetterberg ends the advantage by taking an interference penalty. Zetterberg skates to the boards and cuts down the blue line to make space for a Lidstrom carry-in, but in the process of skating across the line, he skates directly into Jerrod Smithson to create a pick. It's a tough call, but that piece of ice belonged to Smithson. Zetterberg will get a minus. Then, early in the 2nd period, Nick LIdstrom goes to the box for jabbing Mike Fisher's skate out from under him as he turns a corner in the Detroit zone. This is a good call; Lidstrom will get a minus.
2nd Period 14:58 - Nashville Goal: Nick Spaling (wrist shot) from Jordin Tootoo
Nashville ties it up later in the 2nd off a good forecheck and a bad turnover. Both teams are mucking it up in the neutral zone when Nashville gets a dump-in that Jakub Kindl gets to along the boards just in front of Jordin Tootoo. Kindl fakes a backhand pass up the boards to keep Tootoo honest before turning behind his own net. The Preds' pest follows Jakub back there and continues to pester him. Here, Kindl makes a very bad decision to try and shake Tootoo by spinning around and reversing. Instead of getting caught by this, Tootoo skates directly into Kindl and stops his turn. The puck bounces away from Kindl and off the boards where Tootoo (thanks to pushing down on the D-man's head) has gained body position. With Kindl down, Tootoo throws the puck in front of the net where Spaling waits to put it through MacDonald from right in front. I'm going to clear the minuses for Miller, Helm, Abdelkader, and Ericsson. I don' think Rig even has an opportunity to prevent this if he's doing the right thing, but he needs to be getting to the middle of the ice a little faster here. Kindl will get an extra minus for the turnover.
3rd Period 19:54 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom
This game is all set to go to overtime until the Red Wings' best players remember that there's no good reason to play extra minutes in a game they should be winning. With 15.7 seconds left, Pavel Datsyuk wins an offensive zone faceoff, but sees the puck cleared by some David Legwand hustle to disrupt the play. Lidstrom lets the puck roll at center just a little bit to draw Smithson far enough up the ice to make a bit of space for Zetterberg moving over to the opposite side offsides faceoff dot. Lidstrom throws a backhand pass off the boards that hits Zetterberg. Z surveys things for a split-second before receiving the puck and turning up ice. Z doesn't even finish the rotation before he throws a puck to the far side around Legwand's stick which Pavel Datsyuk collects in-stride as he crosses the blue line. Datsyuk catches Suter moving the wrong direction and gives him a deke which brings Pavel into the middle of the ice completely uncovered. Rinne has no chances as Pavs shoots it high to the stick side for the game-winner with less than 6 seconds left on the clock. This may be one of my favorite Red Wings goals of all-time. Datsyuk will get a bonus plus for undressing Suter and for having the the sense to know that the puck was coming. If he pauses because he's not sure that Z will put the puck in the zone, this play doesn't happen. Lidstrom will get a bonus half-plus for having the patience to let the play develop just long enough to create the space Z needs to make the pass. Henrik Zetterberg will also get a bonus plus, but he's also going to get a bonus half-assist. The on-ice awareness to know that Datsyuk is there and to get it directly on his stick is just crazy.
-1 to Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White: Last-minute heroics make me absolutely giddy, but these two struggled in this game. Two of the odd-man rushes that Nashville got in this game were created with this pair on the ice.
+2 to Pavel Datsyuk: There are games where he hits the gear that makes you just know he's not going to let Detroit lose. When he hits this gear, watch your ass because nobody is safe.
+0.5 to Niklas Kronwall & Brad Stuart: They had a quietly solid game. Kronwall was offensively creative and at several times looked like he was on the cusp of scoring goal #13 this season.
+1 to Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, & Drew Miller: It's getting near-automatic that this line gets bonus consideration, but again, they flat dominated the possession numbers. They'll stop getting bonus pluses when they stop making such a big positive difference.
Jakub Kindl had the one terrible giveaway that defined the game for him, but I thought he had a good start. Ericsson played fairly solidly, but he also made enough mistakes to cost him a plus. Bertuzzi meanders in and out of consciousness on the ice and I didn't really like the line produced by him, Franzen, and FIlppula (although I appreciated that it combined Datsyuk & Zetterberg to dominate again). Speaking of Zetterberg though, I was glad to see him revive when he got reunited with Datsyuk, but his play to that point hadn't been impressive.
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