The Red Wings finally ended their losing streak with a dominant performance against an offensively challenged Nashville Predators squad which had played and been shut out by Vancouver the previous night. The Wings scored timely goals and kept defensive pressure on the whole way. This is the smartest game Detroit has played in a while.
Only four penalties called during the game led to a pretty good contest, but the reffing standard wasn't very consistent. I think the Wings got away with quite a few minor obstructions while the Preds got the benefit of the doubt on several cross-checks that went uncalled. Detroit's PK went perfect 2-2 on the night while their PP got on the board in one of two tries.
Jimmy Howard had the exact game Detroit needed from their goaltender. He was outstanding for them when the game was still close and then dominant each time the Preds tried to threaten to climb back into contention. He beat Pekka Rinne for the head-to-head competition and earns a +2 overall rating.
1st Period 05:11 - Detroit Goal: Andrew Miller (wrist shot) from Niklas Kronwall and Patrick Eaves.
Detroit buzzes in the Predators' zone and gets an ugly goal as Miller slides a rebound past Rinne for what would be the game-winner. Miller will get a self-assist on the zone-entry/flip to the front of the net for a good chance. Andersson will get the third assist on puck retrieval. Jakub Kindl is also going to get an assist (fourth) and a plus on this play. He rags behind the Wings' net to get a line change and then throws a long outlet which gets the Wings into the zone cleanly.
2nd Period 02:58 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Joakim Andersson
A Murphy-Dump and good forechecking along with a willingness to go to hard areas gives Tomas Tatar a chance to pick up a loose puck in front and dipsy-doodle it over a sprawling Rinne. Patrick Eaves is going to pick up an assist here. He dumps the puck from behind his own blue line just in front of Andersson at the Nashville blue line to force a 50/50 battle with Blum. Andersson will get a bonus plus for a handfull of great position plays to break the Nashville forecheck and to create the Detroit forecheck. Tatar will get a self-assist for digging the puck quickly out of the boards to create the Andersson chance that causes the rebound Tatar picks up.
2nd Period 15:33 - Detroit Goal: Daniel Cleary (tip-in) from Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk has one of those shifts where the puck follows him all over as he picks up about three loose pucks before finding Kronwall for a one-timer in the high-slot. Justin Abdelkader will get the third assist. Cleary will get a self-assist, as Rinne is already in his butterfly praying that the puck will hit him by the time the puck clears his shoulder to go in. Datsyuk is going to get a bonus assist and a bonus plus. From the zone entry drive to the second loose puck retrieval, Datsyuk brings the play into the Nashville zone and then keeps it there while always being in position in case the Preds take possession. I'm also going to give Jonathan Ericsson a half-assist on this play. After the initial Rush, Ericsson picks up a puck bouncing off the half-boards while all the Preds are collapsing. Instead of waiting for it to get to him, he steps down to grab it and immediately pulls it back across the blue line to give himself a lane. Without the means of unleashing a slapper, he throws a bouncing wrister at the front to create a little havoc. It's only a half-assist because the result is a little lucky, but you don't get luck you don't ask for and that's what Ericsson's decision was doing.
3rd Period 11:48 - Detroit Goal (PP): Daniel Cleary (tip-in) from Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk
The Wings get a bit of a fortunate bounce on an attempted Nashville clear. Datsyuk feeds it to Kronwall for a slapper that Cleary tips through Rinne for goal #4. No adjustment on this play.
Penalty Adjustments (pluses and minuses only)
1st Period 18:04 - Niklas Kronwall (hooking): Kronwall commits two hooks on one shift and only gets called for one. Granted, it's the weaker one, but Kronwall deserved a penalty on this play and got one. Kronner will get a minus.
2nd Period 11:11 - Jonathan Ericsson (holding): Ericsson loses position on Craig Smith in front of the Detroit net and takes a hand off his stick to impede the guy. Minus for Ericsson.
3rd Period 11:11 - Ryan Ellis (holding): Val Filppula steals the puck from Ellis behind the Wings' net and skates to the corner. Ellis grabs Flip and hauls him down. Originally, I thought this was maybe soft, but Filppula makes a great play here anticipating Ellis coming after him and makes a move to throw that little surprise stop-short check on Ellis, which catches him by surprise. Ellis' only reaction is to haul down Flip as he goes down. Filppula will earn a plus for this.
-1 to Jonathan Ericsson: Two of the biggest saves Howard had to make were off Ericsson mistakes that led to Predators getting net-front chances.
+0.5 to Kent Huskins: In just under 17 minutes, Huskins played very solidly. Very good game for him.
+1 to Danny Cleary: More than just the PP goal in this one, Cleary's neutral zone play and backchecking were big positives for the Wings in this game. Maybe his best game of the season.
+1 to Tomas Tatar: For a guy not known for his wheels, Tatar was all over the ice in this one. His hustle and skill was on display in this one.
+1 to Brian Lashoff: Led the Wings in ice time and looked damn comfortable doing it. Very good performance.
Zetterberg and Brunner continue to struggle to create points, but not from lack of effort. Zetterberg played better than Brunner, who had another potentially scary turnover, but I like the effort out of them against tough competition.