I hate writing recaps and CSSI because I already put everything I should say here in the recap. The Wings lost because the Capitals scored on every mistake they made in the first and then got a very deflating fourth goal. I was actually fairly impressed with the team and how they fought back in this one, even if their habit of just falling short in comebacks is getting incredibly annoying.
Hey, the Wings scored a power play goal. That almost makes it easy to forget that they allowed two. Hey, whatever. The 33-22 shot advantage had a lot to do with Washington sitting on either a two or three goal lead for stretches at a time.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 07:48 - Washington Goal (PP): Alex Ovechkin (slap shot) from Marcus Johansson and Dennis Wideman
The Penalty - Niklas Kronwall (high sticking): Ovechkin carries into the Wings' zone with great speed and tries to make a move to split Stuart and Kronwall. Stuart tries to chop down on Ovi's stick while Kronner gets the puck. Unfortunately, Stuart also gets Ovechkin in the face. Kronwall gets called for it, but Stuart will get the minus he deserves.
After a clear, the Capitals bring it back in on an interesting zone entry scheme which is somewhat similar to Detroit's. Dennis Wideman brings it up the middle of the ice flanked by Perreault to his left and Ovechkin to his right. Troy Brouwer is about one line ahead of this trio to the right (strong) side while Johansson follows Wideman. When Abdelkader presents the slightest pressure at the Caps' blue line, Wideman drops to Johansson and then skates right at Abby, who is backing off to the red line. Brouwer posts himself at the Wing's blue line to draw Cleary while Ovechkin slows slightly before cutting perpendicular to the stripe on his way to what will be the weak side point position. This slight adjustment makes Quincey move just enough to give Johansson a spot with three options: to carry in, pass to Brouwer, or dump-and-retrieve himself to the strong side. As Johansson crosses, Abdelkader gets back on him while Quincey steps up. Cleary also gets a stick in and stops Johansson's decision to pass to Brouwer. Cleary can't control the puck off his stick and Johansson picks it back up. The slight change in speed caused by Johansson having to retrieve the puck probably saves his ass, as it chances Quincey having him lined up for a big hit to Quincey completely whiffing on the hit and creating a 4-on-3 rush low in the zone. Johansson moves to the bottom of the circle while Brad Stuart adjusts to a possible odd-man situation by taking the cross-crease pass. once Stuart realizes that Justin Abdelkader is sufficiently back on Perrault, he moves to simultaneously try to keep Johansson from driving the net and passing to the slot. Unfortunately, Stuart's stick isn't long enough to keep Johansson from hitting Ovechkin in stride coming through the middle of the ice for a one-timer past Howard. Quincey is going to pick up a minus here. I like the idea of blasting the guy in the shoulder as he enters the zone, but you kind of actually have to blast him in the shoulder for that to work. Otherwise the whole play turns into a shart.
1st Period 11:25 - Washington Goal: Mike Knuble (snap shot) from Jason Chimera and Matthew Perreault
Mike Green tries a slap-pass from the top of his own circle to Matthew Perreault at the far blue line that Doug Janik breaks up with his stick. Unfortunately, the puck handcuffs Brendan Smith a little bit as Perreault skates right at him. The Caps forward kicks it to his stick as he leans into Smith and turns his back to shield the puck. Smith leans back on Perreault while Janik reacts to a split-second read that really looks like Perreault could step around the youngster. Instead, Perreault passes it off to Chimera trailing just to his left as he drags Janik to what is now the far post. Chimera gets it to the dot while Smith tries to challenge and Howard squares up on him before he passes it back to Mike Knuble in the middle of the ice for an easy snap shot over Howard's pad. It doesn't look like it, but this is kind of a result of the Wings getting caught in a change. Miller is already on and covering the lane from Green to Knuble on the other side of the red line for that fun little slap-shot-off-a-stick dump-in that they're talking about eliminating by adding the red line back in, but Abdelkader comes on and is a little late to pick up his lane. Since he lets Chimera and Perreault get behind him, he needs to make sure that the puck doesn't join them there. He can do this by either skating toward Green (which he was doing initially) or by being in better position in front of Perreault (which is harder to do). Abdelkader does neither and will get a minus for this mistake. Smith's turnover is a hard-to-handle puck, but it's one that hits him in the blade of the stick. Smith will get an extra minus. Miller will keep his minus, as he's caught slightly by Abdelkader being caught slightly. Danny Cleary will be cleared of his minus for having just stepped on the ice at the moment the puck goes by on the far side. Doug Janik will see his minus halved. I think he makes the right reads and the right pickups, but I would have liked it a lot better if, instead of tipping it back to Smith, Janik had blocked the attempted breakout pass past Knuble and up to Drew Miller's stick.
1st Period 14:51 - Washington Goal (PP): Alex Ovechkin (snap shot) from Brooks Laich and Alex Semin
The Penalty - Tomas Holmstrom (goaltender interference): Homer skates to the front of the net and pushes Mike Green straight into Braden Holtby to prevent him from making a play on Cory Emmerton coming in to put the puck into the net. The refs correctly call off the goal and send Holmstrom to the box. I'm tempted to give out more than one minus to Homer for how dumb this play is, but that's not been my standard all season.
A feed from Keith Aucoin behind the Wings' net to Mike Green sneaking in from the point into the far side dot leads to a mad scramble for a rebound between the hash marks. Zetterberg picks it up, but doesn't have an easy out, so he attempts to escape by going around his own net and dumping it out off the boards. Aucoin gets his stick on this attempt and deflects it up the boards. Zetterberg follows up and meets Alex Semin high in the zone. Semin bodies off Zetterberg and pins him to the boards long enough for Brooks Laich to step in and get it to Ovechkin a few feet away at the point. Laich turns in front of Ovechkin and leads the way for him to step into the slot and fire a shot on Jimmy Howard which is stopped. Laich gets his stick on the rebound, but Howard also stops that. Finally, in the ensuing melee, Ovechkin picks it back up and puts it into the open net. Zetterberg will get a minus on this play for failing to clear the puck. I also think that trying a bit harder to escape off the boards might have drawn more attention to what could have been a chintzy call in our favor.
Penalty Adjustment: at 17:57 of the first period, Detroit earns a power play as the third line draws a hooking penalty on Jeff Halpern.Cleary drives the dump-in side to force the Caps to try and get it up the boards. Abdelkader times his hit perfectly to force his defenseman to let it get to Halpern at the half-boards, who is blocked off by a Brendan Smith step-up. Miller comes in from watching Smith's point position and gets the puck off the boards, which creates the hook. All four of Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, and Smith combine to make this play happen, and all four will get a plus.
2nd Period 05:15 - Detroit Goal (PP): Kyle Quincey (slap shot) from Brendan Smith and Jiri Hudler
The Penalty - Matt Hendricks (holding): 3:20 into the 2nd, Hendricks takes his hand off the stick to turn Brad Stuart behind the Red Wings' net. No adjustment.
1:55 into another failed power play, Detroit actually un-fails it. Bertuzzi recovers a puck in the low corner to Holtby's right and, with the help of Jiri Hudler, gets it to Brendan Smith at the point for a shot which is blocked back to the same corner. Bertuzzi again recovers and again cycles it to Hudler, who cycles it to Smith at the point. This time, Smith goes cross-ice to Quincey at the opposite point while Bertuzzi sets up at net-front. Quincey fires a one-timer that Beats Holtby on the short side to break the PP drought for the Wings. Bert doesn't really screen Holtby, but he's going to get the third assist and a half-plus for his puck retrieval skills.
Penalty Adjustment: At 11:29 of the 2nd, Todd Bertuzzi goes off for hooking Mike Green in the neutral zone. This is a good call (if not a bit of a tight one) and Bertuzzi will get a minus.
2nd Period 17:24 - Washington Goal: Keith Aucoin (slew-foot) from Alex Semin and Marcus Johansson
Later in the 2nd, Washington gets the dagger. The Capitals get the puck into the Wings' zone and utilize a constantly-moving and very good, wide cycle in the Detroit zone to continue making space for each other. Danny Cleary momentarily catches Johansson on the boards, but he's able to kick it back to Semin who moves it up. Semin skates down to the corner facing the net and tries to throw a shot-pass at Keith Aucoin moving into position in front. The puck hits Dan Cleary and bounces just in front of Howard where Aucoin picks it up and spins around to put it on the far side. Of course, Keith Aucoin is wide open because part of the cut into the front of the net area involves Aucoin's skate kicking Kyle Quincey's skate out from under him and bringing the D-man down. This is a frustratingly blatant non-call to let the eventual game-winning goal stand. I think the Wings actually have this play defended very well until this happens and without this non-call, I don't believe the goal happens. I'm going to clear the minuses for Quincey, Cleary, Abdelkader, White, and Miller.
3rd Period 00:36 - Detroit Goal: Todd Bertuzzi (wrist shot) from Gustav Nyquist and Brad Stuart
Shortly into the 3rd, Detroit makes it interesting. Bertuzzi picks up a puck as it rolls up the boards in the Wings' zone and feeds it to a streaking Nyquist, who dumps it in past Jeff Schultz and then goes to get it. Goose pokes it to Bert on the far side half-boards, but two Caps defenders converge on him. Bertuzzi does a good job of making sure they don't get the puck cleanly, which works out when the biscuit rolls just off Brouwer's stick and to Datsyuk, who drags three defenders to the blue line with him before making a backhand pass off to Stuart jumping into the zone from the point. Stuart gets to the top-outside of the circle and throws a backhander at the front where Bertuzzi and Laich are battling for position. Laich knocks the puck away, but he knocks it directly into the slot where Nyquist is set up between Schultz and Brouwer. Nyquist lifts Schultz's stick and makes a play at it but the defender turns to prevent him from getting his stick to the puck. Thankfully, the act of turning also causes Schultz to kick it right back toward his goaltender Holtby tries to cover it with his glove, but Bertuzzi slams it into the net before the mousetrap can get down. I'm not sure if they'll change the official scoring, but Nyquist did not touch the puck immediately before Bertuzzi and Datsyuk would earn the 2nd assist officially. As it stands, I'm going to make sure Nyquist has an assist on this play official or other. Actually, I'm going to make sure he gets a half-bonus one as well, not to mention a bonus half-plus for his work gaining and keeping the zone. Bertuzzi will get a self-assist and a full plus for the board battle victory. If Datsyuk doesn't get the official 2nd assist, I'll make sure it's corrected in the CSSI scoring to indicate that he deserves one as well.
3rd Period 12:52 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (wrist shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith
The Capitals try to clear the zone against the Detroit third line forechecking, but a brief misplay by Mike Knuble on teh boards at the top of the zone allows Doug Janik to keep it in at the point. John Carlson gets a chance to clear it, but he hits the skate of Matthew Perreault, giving Drew Miller a chance to try to poke it back in deep. Jason Chimera blocks this and keeps it in the scrum of bodies near the blue line, but he can't control it as Abdelkader jumps in and overskates it, but makes room for Miller to pick it back up and move it a few feet down the line before passing off to Brendan Smith moving to that opposite side point position to where the puck is heading. Chimera challenges and Smith crosses back across the grain to make a move on both him and Perreault. The move is 80% complete when the third stooge (Knuble) steps in to join the party. Smith tries a shot through these players, but it's partially blocked and knocked off Smith's stick straight to Drew Miller in the high slot just behind the three Washington forwards who are closer together than a red rover line. As the three turn to face Miller, he simply pokes the puck back to Smith whose momentum is carrying them around the trio. This gives Smith room to walk all the way into the low circle with the puck. While Smith is doing this, the four-man party of Carlson, Abdelkader, Cleary, and Schultz separate out as Carlson has to respect Smith coming in, Abdelkader backs out to the top of the crease and puts his stick on the ice, Schultz takes up position just to the far side of Abdelkader from where Smith is, and Cleary goes to Schultz's far shoulder. As soon as Carlson gives him room, Smith throws it across the top of the crease onto Abdelkader's skate and on net. Holtby makes the initial stop, but the puck trickles through for Cleary to slam home the rebound and make the game close. This is an entire line working to make a goal happen. Drew Miller will get the third assist on this play and Doug Janik the fourth for their touches on the puck. Smith will get a bonus assist. Bonus pluses will go to Janik, Smith, and Miller, while Abdelkader and Cleary will each get a bonus half-plus.
Penalty Non-Adjustment: Mike Knuble and Nik Kronwall are fighting for a loose puck in the Wings' zone when Knuble's stick takes out Kronwall's skate and brings him down. By virtue of Knuble not having kicked Kronwall's skate out from under him, he goes to the box for tripping. No adjustment.
3rd Period 19:39 - Washington Goal (PP-EN): Jason Chimera (IS) from Mike Knuble and Mike Green
The Penalty - Henrik Zetterberg (holding): A minute into the power play and late on his shift, Zetterberg enters the zone after a loose puck, but is beaten to positioning by Mike Green. Z uses a free hand to grab Green and ends the Wings' advantage. Minus for Zetterberg.
Detroit pulls their goalie for an extra skater to make it 5-on-5. Unfortunately, the setup play where Datsyuk feeds Kronwall coming up through the middle for a one-timer is stopped by Holtby. The Caps clear this down the ice and let the Wings come back at them where they pinch off the rush at the boards and move it back out with a series of passes to guys who are holding off the would-be-backcheckers with well-established body position (Ken Daniels calls Laich for interfering with Hudler on this play, but I don't think a call was warranted). Eventually, they push it past the red line where Chimera throws it into the open net to finish the game off. No adjustments.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, and Gustav Nyquist: I actually liked this line a lot. They spent a majority of their time against the Ovechkin line and won the possession battle against them.
+1 to Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, and Henrik Zetterberg: Huds did a very good job moving the puck and getting it off the boards to scoring areas. Flip and Hank meanwhile did a majority of the heavy lifting in their own defensive zone.
+1 to Danny Cleary: Dan Cleary had nearly 25% of all Red Wings shots in this game. His 8 was huge and was a good testament to how much better he looked at tracking the puck and moving his feet. I'd love to see more of this Cleary.
+1.5 to Niklas Kronwall, +1 to Brad Stuart: I though these two passed the defensive test very well. Kronwall was slightly better, but keeping Ovechkin at bay on even strength is not an easy challenge.
Ultimately, it really hurts to see it have ended like this, because I thought the Wings did play well overall. Abdelkader and Miller; Emmerton and Mursak; White, Quincey, Smith, and Janik all played fairly solid games, but they just needed to be that extra little bit better.
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