The Red Wings went into Friday night's game looking to bounce back from a 5-0 dickslapping at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. They responded by welcoming the Washington Capitals into their own private rubber tornado. Despite all that, it took a seven-round shootout to decide the game, which ended on a Patrick Eaves snipe and a Jimmy Howard save on Jay Beagle.
The Wings got five power play opportunities to the Capitals' two and somehow I still don't think the reffing standard was very good. I was also disappointed with the power play results as the Wings were again held off the scoresheet. Washington scored on their first power play of the game and then were shut down on the second. Overall, shots were 45-29 in favor of Detroit.
Jimmy Howard had a good night for the Wings and got outshone by Michael Neuvirth's performance in net on the other end, especially with the 22 saves he made in the first period. Howie came up huge several times and all seven tries against in the shootout. This was a good performance.
1st Period 15:24 - Washington Goal (PP): Jason Chimera (redirection) from Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson
Washington's power play finds a hole in the defense for a backdoor feed from the half-wall that Chimera tips into the open net. The Wings get a clear about 45 seconds into the power play, but Miller can't get it over Backstrom's head at center, so the PKers don't get a chance to change. Washington gets into the zone and gets the power play set up by moving the puck around the perimeter. Eventually, Backstrom gets it at the half-wall and floats around a bit on the outside, making and receiving back a quick pass from Chimera low to Jimmy Howard's left side. After making the pass back, Chimera sneaks around behind the net and posts up on the far side. While Ericsson ties up with Brouwer directly in front of the goal, Miller watches the pass back to the top of the zone, and Glendening shadows Ovechkin at the far faceoff dot, Kronwall is caught flat-footed trying to attend to both the lane to the net for Backstrom and the passing lane to Chimera on the back door. This momentary lapse allows Backstrom to throw the puck through Kronwal's legs for the redirect goal. This is some very good work by the Capitals to make the power play work and two good plays by Backstrom. Miller will get a half-minus for the failure to clear the puck all the way down the ice and Kronwall will get a minus for allowing the pass to go straight through him.
2nd Period 02:09 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Luke Glendening and Patrick Eaves
The Wings pull even on a hilarious sequence where Neuvirth comes out of his own goal and then gets caught still out of his net five seconds later as Drew Miller starts and finishes the play. After a near-goal for Washington and under pressure, Kyle Quincey is forced to soft-dump the puck around a forechecker where it's picked up by Orlov skating back into his own zone while Detroit changes behind the play. Orlov swoops around to the middle of the ice and sheds very brief pressure from a forechecking Helm before crossing the Wings' blue line on his own just to the right side of center. Orlov tries to step around Quincey as Ovechkin and Johansson pinch in from both walls along the blue line, but the play falls apart when a great poke-check leaves the loose puck in the middle of the ice where Patrick Eaves picks it up and mails it up ice to Miller just coming onto the ice. Miler can't control the pass cleanly on what would be a breakaway, but as he's racing in on the puck, Neuvirth comes out to try and poke it past, but fails. Miller gets the puck in the corner with Neuvirth still laying in the slot. Strachan pressures on Miller while Beagle dives into the net and Orlov gets back on Eaves to prevent a goal when Miller passes it to him at the faceoff dot. The Orlov back-check forces the Eaves shot to miss wide where it bounces off the boards and onto Glendening's stick just below the left faceoff circle. Neuvirth is still scrambling to get back when Glendening tries to pitch a backhand into the open net only to be stopped by the diving goaltender. While Beagle and Ovechkin both key in to that side, the puck ends up in the crease on the back door where Miller is standing to put home the rebound which ties it. First off, DeKeyser and Quincey will get back the pluses that ended up going to Smith and Kindl as the defense changed behind the scoring play. Next, Quincey will get a bonus plus for the play on Orlov which turns the puck over in a great area. Eaves will also get a plus for the quick thinking and pass to spring Miller.
2nd Period 18:21 - Detroit Goal: Danny DeKeyser (slap shot) from Riley Sheahan
Late in the 2nd period, the Red Wings gain the lead on a blast from the point on a faceoff win. The Wings are generally controlling play through this period and Neuvirth holds onto an unscreened wrister to get a faceoff in the zone. Sheahan muscles up on Beagle to win the draw and feed the puck back to DeKeyser above the tops of the circles. Chimera goes out to challenge, but DeKeyser puts a one-timer past him and through Neuvirth to give the Wings a lead. Sheahan will get a plus for the great faceoff win.
3rd Period 08:09 - Washington Goal: Casey Wellman (wrist shot) from Alex Ovechkin and
Niklas Kronwall gives far too much room on a zone entry and a Washington forward gets three shots on goal in the span of a second, tying it up on his third. Detroit changes defenders behind a play as Strachan blocks an Abdelkader pass in the corner of his own zone and feeds it out to Ovechkin for an outlet pass which springs Casey Wellman behind Jonathan Ericsson streaking up the right wing. Kronwall is back, but Backstrom jumps into the play on the far side and forces Kronwall to initially play this like a 2-on-1 to prevent a breakaway. As Wellman angles from the half-boards to the front of the net, Ericsson gets back to cover Backstrom, but Kronwall has already given enough ice for Wellman to get into the faceoff dot before firing a puck on Howard. This one bounces off Howard's chest and straight back to Wellman, whose momentum has carried him into the low slow. While both Nyquist and Kronwall attempt to tie up the man, Wellman gets a follow-on shot aimed at the open net behind Howard. Somehow, Howie is able to get a toe on this shot and keep it out. Unfortunately, he kicks it right back into Wellman's glide path again and the youngster doesn't fail to find the net a third time. I'm going to clear the minuses for Abdelkader and Zetterberg. The transition pass can't happen and they're not at fault that it did. Kronwall is caught having to make tough plays, but he's got to eliminate Wellman on either of the two rebounds and he doesn't. This will earn Kronwall a half-minus. The problem here is that Kronwall has to give Wellman so much space because Backstrom gets behind the coverage. This problem falls primarily on Jonathan Ericsson, who will get a coverage minus. I also think Nyquist deserves a half-minus on this play, as he turns and lets the Ovechkin pass through him despite him being the high forward in the zone. If Nyquist is rushing back, he might catch Backstrom and give Kronwall the freedom to take space away from him.
3rd Period 10:15 - Detroit Goal: Gustav Nyquist (wrist shot) unassisted
The Wings retake the lead on a defensive play at the top of their own zone and a good crossover play in the top of the Washington zone to make a screen through which Nyquist snipes a goal. Zetterberg wins a neutral zone faceoff to Abdelkader, who is all set to go back to Kronwall when Ovechkin picks off the five-foot pass and busts into the zone (this is an insanely great read by Ovi on this play to create a scoring chance). Howard stops a shot and Kronwall plays it around Ovi for Z to get in the corner, but the forechecking of Erat forces Hank to turn it over to Backstrom at the top of the circle. Nyquist, Abdlekader, and Ericsson are in good position to limit Backstrom's options, so he passes it off to Erskine at the opposite side point to reset the play. Erskin sets and shoots wide of the net through traffic. The puck bounces back to the half-wall where Backstrom outplays Abdelkader and takes it to the point before feeding it back to Erskine. The pass hits Erskine's skate and bounces to his stick, which apparently confuses the defenseman, who takes a step deeper into the zone before realizing he doesn't have the puck. Nyquist races in and picks it up to carry through center with Abdelkader joining him. Backstrom and Carrick get back as both forwards enter on the left wing side. Nyquist slows up ever so slightly after gaining the zone to allow Abdelkader to push the center lane. This move causes both defenders to back off and collapse on Abby, giving Nyquist room to cut through the middle into the slot where he rips a shot through this traffic that beats Neuvirth and puts the Wings back in the lead. This is a great play to take advantage of a mistake here and will earn Abdelkader a screener's assist. I like Nyquist's hustle on this entire sequence. The recognition on the turnover which limits Backstrom's choices just outside the scoring box, combined with the quickness of pressure on Erskin will earn Nyquist a half-plus. Unfortunately, Zetterberg will lose his plus. The turnover in this own zone along with the non-factor status in the ensuing play says that Hank doesn't deserve the plus he lucks into on this play. Riggy and Kronwall are playing good defense and deserve theirs, but not Hank.
3rd Period 19:53 - Washington Goal: Joel Ward (tip-in) from Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson
With the goalie pulled, Washington gets the shot off that Detroit absolutely did not want to allow when Ovechkin gets off a one-timer from the top of the zone that finds its way through. With 30 seconds left in the game, Washington gets the puck deep on a blind spinning pass into the middle of the ice that takes a couple lucky bounces through center and gets the play into the zone. Quincey bounces it off the boards to get around Johansson, but Ward beats out Zetterberg for the loose puck and dumps it around to the far corner where Chimera gets it and feeds it back to the point. Ovi dumps it back in where it hits a stanchion and bounces to Orlov, who dumps it behind the net where Ward fends off DeKeyser. Ward feeds Chimera who tries a jam shot from the sharp angle with Johansson parked in front. The puck bounces behind the net where Chimera gets to it as the Wings' defense draws back to cover both posts and the net-front. Chimera bounces it off the side boards to get it around Abdelkader and to Carlson at the point. Abby gets in the lane, so Carlsson feeds it cross-ice where Ovechkin waits. Nyquist goes to challenge with his stick outstretched, but he's already too low and he can neither stop nor deflect the one-timer coming from Ovi. Fortunately, for the Caps, Joel Ward can do that at the net-front as he tips the puck under Howard in the dying seconds. Abdelkader will be the only player cleared here, as the nearest he gets to being in the play is when he takes away the Carlson lane to force the pass across ice. Nobody else will have their minus cleared, but nobody else will pick up extra blame. There's some goofy bouncing and a few things I wish had gone better, but this is essentially a good power play goal. The questionable play is Nyquist being too low to stop Ovi from getting the one-timer, but he's also covering a cross-ice lane to Orlov at the dot when he starts racing to adjust to the pass.
1st Period 07:18 - Nicklas Backstrom (tripping): Detroit gets the first power play of the game as Zetterberg gets tripped up by Backstrom behind the Wings' net. He just pokes Z's skates out from under him on a standard play. No adjustment.
1st Period 09:47 - Dmitry Orlov (delay of game) Helm and Alfredsson are forechecking along the Washington blue line and Orlov chucks is over the glass. This isn't much in terms of a forced error, but there are people around pressuring. Half-plus for Helm and for Alfredsson.
1st Period 14:18 - Danny DeKeyser (tripping): DK and Marty Erat chase after a loose puck in the Wings' zone. Erat and DK tie up with Erat pulling his man down. DeKeyser tries to sweep-check it away from his belly and ends up taking out Erat's skates. I'm still going to give DK a half-minus on this play. He does get pulled down, but he's got to control his stick on the fall.
1st Period 18:27 - Karl Alzner (hooking): As Justin Abdelkader races up the wing with a threat to the middle of the ice, Zetterberg drives the middle lane on Alzner, who goes out to meet him and gets in his way not once but twice as the play develops (eventually into a rebound off the Abdelkader shot). Alzer gets the penalty for what is just too much hooking for the ref to ignore. Z does good to fight through it and will get a plus. Abdelkader will get a half-plus as well for forcing the play which puts Alzner in so much danger of being burned in the first place.
2nd Period 12:56 - Eric Fehr (roughing): Both teams battle for a puck in the officials' crease between the penalty boxes with the Wings coming out with the puck. During the battling, Fehr and Miller are fighting for positioning with a few chops here and there. Fehr gets the last lick in with a backhanded swim-punch to the head and goes to the box. Miller will get a half-plus for this. He plays this battle smartly and doesn't retaliate.
3rd Period 02:13 - Eric Fehr (tripping): Glendening forechecks around behind the net on Fehr, stepping in between the man and his puck, getting taken down in the process. Glendening will get a plus for the great body position play to steal the puck and draw the call.
3rd Period 16:31 - Tomas Jurco (slashing): The penalty differential was very lopsided and the Wings were leading by one, so the first time the refs got a halfway decent opportunity to make a call, they do so. Jurco is the victim as he taps a guy's stick and sits for slashing. No adjustment. This is a pity call.
+2 to Darren Helm, +1 to Daniel Alfredsson and Joakim Andersson: This line did a good job in this game at limiting chances against while driving the puck the other way. Helm was incredible in this game.
+1 to Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar: Good game by the "veteran youth" on the Wings' squad, as they brought good speed through the neutral zone and solid backchecking with physical play to boot.
-1 to Jakub Kindl: A brutal turnover in the first period (covered up for by Brendan Smith of all people) and some iffy play moving the puck in his first game back was just disappointing. At this point, I'd still keep him in the next game over Lashoff, but barely.
+1 to Danny DeKeyser: The simple, effective plays are becoming so commonplace for DK, who covered up the back end, prevented shots from getting through on Howard, and moved the puck well.
+0.5 to Brendan Smith: A bit of an up-and-down game from Smith playing on the third pair, but he had the best possession numbers of any skater and did more good than bad in this one. Specifically the defense on Backstrom after the Kindl turnover in the first was a very solid play.
I thought Quincey played one of the more-effective games as a Wing, especially when faced with Ovi. Kronwall and Ericsson made some good plays, but overall they struggled with their assignments.
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