The Red Wings took a 3-1 series lead in preparation for Saturday's game 5 by weathering a few Chicago storms and then holding a one-goal lead for nearly 30 minutes. To top that off, they also got an empty-netter and a huge late penalty kill. This game wracked my nerves. They are very wracked.
Both teams got three power play opportunities, but Detroit kept the Hawks stymied. Even better, the Wings ended the Hawks' perfect playoff PK with a last-second goal, which turned out to be the game-winner. The Wings were only outshot by one in this game, 28-27.
Jimmy Howard won the head-to-head, obviously. Overall, Howard was just about perfect. He did have two turnovers which led to scoring chances that he had to stop, and there were a couple of scary rebounds, but he came up huge. In particular, freezing a Duncan Keith slapper under pressure and the 2-on-1 stonewall job were huge. I can't say confidently that he was better in this game than he was in Game 3 (where he made 11 more saves). I'm going to give him a +2 overall. Just like in Game 3, it's a bit of a struggle not to give the +3, but this one was just below perfect.
2nd Period 10:03 - Detroit Goal (PP): Jakub Kindl (slap shot) from Carlo Colaiacovo and Johan Franzen
Kindl nets one just before the end of the power play as he gets it in front and coyly outwaits Crawford before putting a seeing-eye half-slapper into the net from the top of the circle. Datsyuk will get the third assist on this play for digging it out. Abdelkader will get the screener's assist. I'm also going to give Abby a bonus half-assist. He makes a couple plays here to keep the play going in favor of the Wings. Kindl will get a half self-assist. He doesn't do as much of the grinding work as Abby, but he's in good position. Finally, Datsyuk makes a great play to ensure the zone entry which leads to this goal. This will get Datsyuk a plus.
3rd Period 19:21 - Detroit Goal (EN): Daniel Cleary (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula
The Wings put in the empty-netter to salt it away as Filppula breaks up a zone entry to get it to Cleary in space behind the defense. Cleary walks it inside the blue line and fires it past Duncan Keith into the open net. Ericsson will pick up a non-touch assist for the step up on Bickell to create a loose puck for Filppula to get and turn the other way.
Penalty Adjustments (pluses and minuses only)
1st Period 10:25 - Niklas Kronwall (hooking): Kronner loses body position on Toews and uses his stick to keep Chicago's captain from turning the corner on a scoring opportunity. Easy call to make. Kronwall gets a minus.
2nd Period 03:16 - Henrik Zetterberg (hooking): Z loses position on Toews and then goes to the box when Toews sells the contact. Minus for Z.
2nd Period 05:20 - Jonathan Toews (hooking): After the Wings kill off Z's penalty, the Hawks keep pressure in the zone, but that's broken when Drew Miller takes good body position on Toews and gets hooked for his troubles. Miller will get a plus.
2nd Period 08:04 - Jonathan Toews (high-sticking): I usually don't give pluses for high-sticking, but we're about to see two of them on consecutive penalties. Abdelkader battles perfectly and puts Toews in position to get in trouble when he's careless. Plus for Abdelkader.
2nd Period 10:54 - Jonathan Toews (high-sticking): This one is a team effort as the Wings are putting on great pressure after breaking the Hawks' post-goal push. Toews gets a stick up on Ericsson on the half-boards as Riggy uses that well-known Riggy-Trickery to spin Toews right out of his jock. Toews responds by trying to ruin Ericsson's face like he's John Travolta trying to get back at Nic Cage for fucking up his plans and stealing his mug. I don't know where I was going with this... Plus for Ericsson
3rd Period 15:15 - Jakub Kindl (hooking): With the Wings playing the prevent 1-2-2 in the neutral zone, they still somehow let a guy behind them on a breakaway. This one is on Kindl, who will get a minus as he takes his guy down to prevent the shot.
+1.5 to Henrik Zetterberg and +1 to Pavel Datsyuk: The Wings two big centers did their jobs very well. Z got creamed on possession, but the eye test only pegged one quite bad turnover on him as far as quality scoring chances. Datsyuk won almost 60% of his draws and made Patrick Kane disappear like if he'd gone back in time and failed to prevent Biff Tannen from pokin' his mom.
+1 to Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves, and Joakim Andersson: The Wings big four PKers had an incredible game at frustrating the Hawks' PK. If Miller weren't already adjusted higher than the other three, he would be. His shot blocking positioning is insanely good.
+2 to Niklas Kronwall: A masterful performance by Kronner at shadowing and frustrating Toews and also at making up for mistakes by defensive partners (be it Kindl or Ericsson)
+1 to Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, and Carlo Colaiacovo: I think the Wings' defense overall played as a very good six-man unit. Many of the frustrating turnover mistakes were either done by or caused by the forwards; those which weren't were made up for with aplomb.
Ericsson had a good game and ended up an adjusted +2, so he didn't get an extra adjustment. Honestly, I might have given him a minus. He was good, but I think he made more mistakes than his teammates. Filppula had an amazing backcheck to stop a Toews scoring chance in the 2nd period, but loses the extra credit that would have granted him because it was his fault that Toews had such a great chance in the first place.