Detroit headed into Toronto to play the bad guy for Hockey Night In Canada's lovefest for the Maple Leafs and spoiled it for the home team, winning 5-4 in a shootout. Honestly, the game shouldn't have been this close. The Leafs played like garbage for long stretches and the Wings largely let them off the hook. There's a lot to learn from escaping a game that shouldn't have been as close as it was.
The reffing in this game was as bad as I've seen it this season with the Leafs getting four power play chances (scoring on one) while the Wings got just one. Despite that, the Wings still outshot the Leafs 38-23.
Goaltending was not the strong suit for either side, but at least Gustavsson got to play the entire game for his team, so suck it, Leafs.
1st Period 07:15 - Toronto Goal: Cody Franson (snap shot) unassisted
The Leafs get the first of the game off a turnover and a screened shot from up top. The Leafs get the puck as Dan Cleary fails to gain the zone on a step-up. Toronto dumps it back in and sets the pressure with Holland bodying Eaves behind the Wings net. Lupul kicks the loose puck to the front of the net where Smith gets to it first and weakly tries to pass it through Raymond to Cleary right up the middle. Everybody misses it except for Franson at the point, who takes a step to his left and fires one through traffic which beats Gustavsson on the stick side. Glendening will be cleared on this play and Quincey will merely keep his minus for having the net-front play go bad on his watch. All of Eaves, Cleary, and Smith commit a turnover on this play. All three will get a minus.
1st Period 08:57 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (backhand) from Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser
The Wings pull even on some great forechecking work down low which creates room for Datsyuk out front for the goal. Defensive back-pressure by Datsyuk, Sheahan, and Jurco creates a turnover at center that Jurco turns back into the zone for a speed re-entry which helps collapse the Leafs' defense. After a quick cycle, a DeKeyser shot from the point goes wide and is collected by Datsyuk for another circle around the zone. this time Datsyuk puts a shot on that's deflected behind the net and DeKeyser is there for the recovery, pushing it back from the half-boards to Datsyuk behind the net. Pavel does a quick give-and-go with Sheahan back there, which gets Pavel to the top of the crease with the puck behind both defenseman. Datsyuk makes quick work of Reimer and ties it. Jurco does great work on getting the zone entry and back pressure. This will earn Jurco a plus and a half. Datsyuk will earn himself a plus for helping keep the defense both compacted and chasing around. DeKeyser does good work on the step-up and positional play, earning a half-plus.
1st Period 13:18 - Detroit Goal: Joakim Andersson (wrap around) from Daniel Alfredsson and Brendan Smith
The Wings pull ahead 2-1 on a wrap-around goal from an unlikely source as Andersson catches Reimer playing too deep in his own net. The Wings tip a puck in for a dump-and-chase which bears fruit when Miller steps up on Franson to keep the puck in and the pressure on. With help from Andersson, Miller is able to get it back to the point for a tippable point-shot which just misses, but is recovered by Alfredsson behind the net. Alfie skates up the boards to the half-wall before dumping it back behind the net where Andersson gets to it. Lupul gives chase and smokes Andersson out from behind the net, but good body positioning gives Joker the chance to turn back and give him the slip, escaping back behind the net with enough momentum to use the back of the cage to squeegee Lupul off and free Andersson to punch the puck in on the wrap-around. This is a bad goal for Reimer to give up, but the Wings make good plays here to make it happen. Miller and Alfredsson will each earn a bonus plus for their physical work (Miller recovering the puck and Alfredsson establishing body position to keep Raymond from meeting Andersson at the near post). Andersson helps with puck retrieval twice and helps himself to the goal. This will earn Andersson two pluses.
1st Period 18:08 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Jurco (backhand) from Riley Sheahan and Jordin Tootoo
Aggressive Detroit forechecking catches the Leafs' defense discombobulated and Jurco makes them pay with a beautiful backhand spin-o-rama that squeaks through Reimer. After some good pressure, the Leafs get out of the zone as Lupul blocks a Quincey shot. Smith gets over quickly to prevent a Lupul breakaway and is able to spin at center and get the puck dumped back in with Tootoo tipping it. Gardiner struggles to control the puck at the half wall and resorts to simply trying to dump it back out of the zone thanks to the pressure from Jurco. Tootoo intercepts the puck and tosses it to the middle of the ice where Sheahan collects it in front of Franson with enough room to gather it and throw a backhander in the vicinity of the net where he knows Jurco is going. The youngster grabs it just in front of Reimer as he cuts across the crease, kicking skate-to-stick before stopping his momentum and chucking a backhander that sneaks through. This time, half-pluses will go to Jurco, Tootoo, and Smith. Good pressure by the two forwards and quick reflexes by Smith help regain and control the puck to make this play happen.
2nd Period 11:45 - Toronto Goal: Dion Phaneuf (slap shot) from Joffrey Lupul
Toronto gets one back on a simple turnover and a blast from the middle of the ice for a guy with too much room. After a couple scoring chances in their end, the Leafs break out the other way in a 2-on-2 with Lupul dumping it in on the left wing side for Holland in that lane. Quincey is back first and gets to it, but Holland takes a good angle and blocks Quincey's turn to the corner, forcing him to weakly dump the puck up the boards, which is picked up by Lupul. Raymond establishes position on Cleary which gives Lupul a lane to get to the half-boards with the puck before throwing it to the middle of the ice where Phaneuf steps into the puck and blasts it through Gustavsson. Todd Bertuzzi will be cleared on this play, as he jumps on behind and never has a chance to catch up to the guy who would technically be his coverage responsibility. Datsyuk had also just jumped on, but he's involved in this play and will keep his minus. Cleary will also keep his minus for having this play come through him. Smith keeps his minus as well. I think he should be closer to the middle where he might have a chance to block this Phaneuf shot, but I'm not convinced that actually makes a difference. Quincey makes the turnover mistake here which will cost him a minus. The play he makes based on Holland's great body positioning and the status of his team's line change is one of two viable options, he just doesn't put enough on the puck to get it past Lupul and up to Datsyuk. His other option was to try and eat the puck in the corner. Hindsight being 20/20 we know what he should have done, but eating the puck doesn't create transition and I think the puck-moving decision is the better one, even if it didn't work out in this case.
2nd Period 18:24 - Toronto Goal (PP): Joffrey Lupul (wrist shot) from Phil Kessel and Cody Franson
The Leafs pull even on a bad short-side goal on the power play. The Wings efficiently kill off the first minute, but have trouble getting a clear on a dump-in where the puck barely eludes a few sticks before the Leafs recover. Kessel gets the puck in the corner and cycles back around into the faceoff circle, stopping there to freeze the defense on the threat of him unleashing a shot. Instead, he stickhandles long enough for James van Riemsdyk to tie up Lashoff in front of the net to make room for a pass to Lupul at the side of the cage. Lupul steps toward the net as Gustavsson goes down to protect low, getting beaten high to the short side by the Toronto sniper. No adjustment on this play. This one's on Gustavsson.
3rd Period 08:32 - Toronto Goal: David Clarkson (wrist shot) from Jay McClement and Nikolai Kulemin
The Leafs take the lead on a terrible turnover in front and a scramble that the Wings can't stop in front. Toronto dumps the puck in for DeKeyser to collect with McClement pressuring him behind the net. Has DeKeyser circles back, he tries to break the forechecking pressure by reversing the play off the boards. This fails as Kulemin is the only person there to retrieve the puck. Kulemin fires a quick shot on net before Lashoff can get over which is stopped by Gustavsson, but not controlled. The rebound bounces around a bit as McClement can't get it cleanly on net, but an on-rushing Clarkson does. This shot is stopped, but it squeaks through Gustavsson, who tries to snow-angel on the puck, but doesn't get it locked up before Clarkson gets his shot back on the puck and jams it in. Jurco is the only one cleared here as the high weak-side winger. Bertuzzi and Lashofff are forced into scramble mode by the turnover and can't recover in time. Each will keep his minus. I think Datsyuk is very late to catch up to what's happening on this play after the turnover and I'm going to give Pavel a half-minus on the coverage here. Earning full marks for blame here, DeKeyser will get a minus for his turnover and another half minus for coverage on not planting Clarkson on his ass at the side of the net.
3rd Period 13:44 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (backhand) from Tomas Jurco and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings create a turnover and get the equalizer on a great job by Tatar picking up a loose puck in front and putting it into the net like he should. After an icing, the Leafs give up possession to change lines, allowing Smith to skate up through center and get the puck in on a dump-in off Jurco's stick. Liles gets to it first and dumps it up the boards under pressure from Tatar. Kessel gets to the puck, but can't get it past a pinch in from Kronwall at the point. Kronwall holds off Kessel's attempted clears long enough for Jurco to step up to the point behind him and collect the puck when Kessel weakly goes off the boards to get it around Kronwall. Wasting no time, Jurco chucks the puck at the front of the net from the point just as Tatar comes out from behind the net after finishing his check on Liles. Tatar tips the puck on Bernier on its way in, which helps create the rebound that Bernier can't control. Tats is already moving across the crease when the puck meets him on the back door for the easy put-away. I'm going to give Brendan Smith the plus given to Jonathan Ericsson on this play. Riggy had just stepped on, but Smith was involved in the play. Kronwall will keep his plus and will actually earn a bonus plus as well for the step-up on Kessel to create the turnover. Tatar will earn himself a plus for the good forechecking work too.
1st Period 18:56 - Drew Miller (tripping): Lupul skates through Miller on a faceoff won by the Wings and takes a fall to earn a penalty. It's a soft call, but Miller reaches on his man. Minus for Miller.
2nd Period 04:14 - Brendan Smith (tripping): Peter Holland intercepts a pass from behind the Wings net by Smith and creates a penalty when Smith gets his stick into the legs. Smith will get a minus. He created this for himself getting his pass intercepted.
2nd Period 17:06 - Kyle Quincey (high sticking): The Leafs pour pressure on and Quincey gets his stick up on Kadri, who snaps his head back dramatically to draw the call. Minus for Quincey. Regardless of the sell, it's a penalty.
3rd Period 05:25 - Dion Phaneuf (interference): Lashoff dumps a puck in and then Phaneuf hits him half a second later. This is about the third time Phaneuf has done this tonight, but they finally call it. No adjustment.
3rd Period 10:23 - Brian Lashoff (slashing): A two-hander on a stick in the defensive zone and we've got a minus for Lashoff.
+1 to Danny Cleary and Patrick Eaves: Neither were as bad as their overall ratings suggested, so I'm adjusting each one up. I'd like to see more out of both of them at this point though.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: Pavs had a good night to earn himself up to an overall +0.5. Based on the defensive matchup from Carlyle, I'd like to see him win that possession battl eby mroe though.
+1 to Jonathan Ericsson: Solid game in this one for Riggy, who had four shots on net in more than 27 minutes played against tough competition.
It's a little weird to have a few overall minuses for a game where the Wings were dominant in possession, but they had too many mistakes and didn't capitalize on enough chances and that's an overall minus kind of performance for a lot of guys.
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