Recap: Detroit Red Wings (3) at Florida Panthers (1)

Some Smith love for our birthday boy - Joel Auerbach

With mere days to go until the Olympic break, the Red Wings took their show down to Sunrise Florida in hopes of getting a suddenly-rare road victory against a team they've had consistent trouble beating. Not only this, but Tim Thomas was in net for the Panthers in this game and he's been good at not only stopping Red Wings shots, but also at getting goals against him waved off by overzealous referees who don't seem to have a problem with him simultaneously stiff-arming forwards while diving to make saves.

Fortunately, Detroit got Pavel Datsyuk back in the lineup and, as it turns out, they're a better team than the Panthers. So despite an entire game's worth of the uneasy feeling you get when you're not sure whether you're going to make it home before the business you've got brewing in your anterior nether-regions will make a surprise appearance in your unmentionables, Detroit came away with two points in a 3-1 victory.

Here's the short version of how it went down: In the first period, the Wings dominated play and found themselves losing after 20 minutes thanks to Scottie Upshall scoring on Florida's second shot of the game... at 19:34. Thankfully, the Red Wings' power play was able to do that thing where they make the puck go into the net and a big red light comes while everybody hugs. Daniel Alfredsson did that, tying Nick Lidstrom for 2nd all-time in scoring by Swedish-born players in the process. Later in the period, Jimmy Howard was busy bailing his team out in a game where they were outshooting the Panthers something like [Persians] - [Spartans] when Gustav Nyquist picked up a rebound in his own end, flew up the wing, and buzzed a shot past Tim Thomas' ear. Brian Lashoff finished the scoring late in the third with the most-sheepish goal I've ever seen a guy score after he got out of the penalty box to finish off a Darren Helm clear.

Let's do some bullet points:

  • Datsyuk looked very sharp in the first period and should have earned what would have been his 800th NHL point a couple of times, except for failures to finish by Helm and Sheahan. He kind of faded as the game went on, but overall had a strong performance in his first game back since January 1st.
  • How blessed we are to be watching Gustav Nyquist play this well while a line made up of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Tatar play a high-speed, high-energy game which gives other teams fits.
  • Kyle Quincey had a good game and Jonathan Ericsson had a Kyle Quincey game. This is not expected, so it gets its own bullet point.
  • Happy birthday, Jeff.
  • I don't know why I get so mad watching Tomas Kopecky do anything other than falling down, but I do. He's an ok hockey player, but I don't miss him at all. It's been forever since he played for the Wings and I still get annoyed if he does something good because it felt like he never did anything good consistently for Detroit. For this reason, I was absolutely tickled to see him get an unsportsmanlike minor added onto his hooking minor because he mouthed off after taking an obvious penalty.
  • One more game until the break. I hope they win that one.
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