The Red Wings dropped another close and frustratingly-winnable game on Thursday night when they were largely unable to solve Ben Bishop in the Lightning net, dropping a sudden-death shootout thanks to a Marty St Louis goal.
Thinking back, this might have been the best, most-consistently refereed game of the season. I know we complain about them a lot, but in this game, they called the really obvious stuff and didn't make themselves the star of the game. I was also glad to see that not only did they not fall for a few embellishments, I think one of them actually warned the guy doing it to cut that shit out. Neither team scored with the man advantage in four tries, but that's almost a special teams loss for the Wings, considering how dangerous their PP looked. Overall, the Wings outshot the Lightning 29-27.
Jonas Gustavsson came out on the wrong end of a goalie battle in which neither netminder deserved to lose. Both goalies made some big saves, but I think Bishop was tested more. Still, Gustavsson put up the kind of game that gave the Wings a chance to win and that's his job.
1st Period 15:04 - Detroit Goal: Kyle Quincey (wrist shot) from Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith
The Wings get on the boards first on a zone rush joined by a d-man and finished on an unlikely rebound put-home down low by Quincey. The play starts as Smith steps up on an attempted cross-ice zone entry pass, which causes the Lightning forward to just tip it in past Smith in the hopes that Filppula will win the race to it. Instead, Franzen backchecks hard and gets to it with some help by Bertuzzi. Smith gets back to pick up a backhand pass from Franzen to break the Filppula pressure behind the net. Smith taps it again and is able to spring Nyquist turning from the middle to the boards. Nyquist is joined by Bertuzzi coming up the right side as Bert goes more to the middle and Nyquist crosses the blue line on the wing. Quincey joins the rush just behind them on the left wing. As all three backcheckers collapse, Nyquist throws a backhand pass to Quincey coming across the tops of the circles. Quincey gets a backhand shot off from the slot which Bishop fights off, but he follows up his own shot and finds the rebound laying off to the side with Bishop not sealing the post. This is all the room Q needs to put the puck in. Smith and Franzen will each get a plus for creating the turnover and transition while Bertuzzi will earn a half-plus for helping create space without interfering with anybody. I'm going to give Quincey a plus for smartly joining the rush and staying on the play knowing he had help behind him.
2nd Period 19:16 - Tampa Bay Goal: Nikita Kucherov (wrist shot) from J.T. Brown
The Bolts pull even on a fortunate bounce that gets to a guy in the high slot for a wheel-around shot that beats Gustavsson to tie it up. Nate Thompson gains the Wings' zone using a bit of room granted him by Matt Carle cutting across the blue line from the left wing side to the middle (and almost going offside). Thompson jumps in behind and makes it to the half-board before Kindl forces him to dump it to the corner and follow up. Kindl is able to body off his man, allowing Quincey to get to the puck, but J.T. Brown is in very quickly on the forecheck, blocking Quincey's attempted pass to Abdelkader up the boards. The puck goes into the middle of the ice where Kucherov gets it first coming away from the net-front. Alfredsson chases him, but can't block the pass when the Bolts' forward turns and throws the puck at the front. As the puck flies, it goes right past a split-second screen caused by Kindl and Thompson skating across Gustavsson's field of vision. This is just enough to get it past the Monster on the glove side. For blame, Abdelkader and Datsyuk will be cleared. Alfredsson and Kindl are a bit unlucky to be involved here but both have a chance to block the shot and don't. Quincey turns the puck over here trying to make what is the right play. This is a fortunate bounce more than a cardinal screw-up though and Quincey will only get an additional half-minus for the turnover.
1st Period 15:41 - Ondrej Palat (holding): After the first goal, the Wings get some good zone time, ending with Palat taking a holding call after almost setting up Alfredsson for a goal. The play is a collection of good positional steps by the Wings here, mostly by Alfredsson and Datsyuk, who will each get a plus.
1st Period 18:09 - Jonathan Ericsson (tripping): Val Filppula tries to spli tthe D moving through center with speed, picking up a tripping call as he attempts to stop him up. Ericsson will get a minus. Riggy gets his stick in on the knees and makes it an easy call.
2nd Period 01:54 - Mark Barberio (holding): Samuelsson pushes hard into the Lightning zone on the forecheck and ties up with Barberio, who holds him up. I like the battle out of Sammy here, who will earn a plus.
2nd Period - Jonathan Ericsson (holding): Niklas Kronwall tries to step up and block a pass to Palat coming through center and misses. Ericsson comes back on him to cover for the mistake and does so by wrapping his hand around the guy and pulling him down. This one is a bit more on Kronwall for putting Riggy into this situation. Ericsson will get a half-minus and Kronwall will get a minus.
3rd Period 01:24 - Ondrej Palat (hooking): Johan Franzen drives through center and gets to the middle, getting a good scoring chance and drawing a Palat hook. Plus for Franzen.
3rd Period 13:21 - Tomas Tatar (closing hand on the puck): The Lightning are putting on pressure in the zone when a puck is deflected into the air. Tatar gloves it, but makes a move around his man before dropping it, earning a penalty. Minus for Tatar. He's got to let the puck go or just bat it out of the zone.
3rd Period 16:32 - Andrej Sustr (interference): Joakim Andersson finishes kind of an up-and-down shift by fighting to get a puck cleared and then drawing Sustr into stepping into his path to prevent a forechecking opportunity. Andersson will get a plus.
3rd Period 19:17 - Justin Abdelkader (hooking): The Wings give up a huge scoring opportunity on a broken play in front, leading to a hooking penalty in front. Abdelkader will get a minus. Much of what causes the problem is Abdelkader allowing the shot to get tot he front in the first place.
+1 to Dan Cleary: Defensively, Cleary did a very good job in this game, especially covering mistakes for linemates. I thought he carried the puck responsibly and moved better too.
+0.5 to Daniel Alfredsson: I thought he had a strong and dangerous game, looking pretty good in his own end as well. Needs more results, but I liked what I saw.
+1 to Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller: The Tatar-Andersson-Miller line played well, despite Tatar taking a penalty, they created some very good chances.
Gustav Nyquist had the best attempt differential on the team, but I almost gave him a minus for some pretty bad puck-handling mistakes in his own end. The play to earn the assist was quite nice, but this was the first game where I felt he underwhelmed for a reason other than trying too hard. Overall, not a lot of guys ended up on the minus side of the ledger, which is about where it should be for a game only allowing one goal where the opposing goalie did a lot to shut them down.
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