The Minnesota Wild thoroughly dominated the Detroit Red Wings Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena. The story of the game for the Red Wings was that noted kitten-from-tree-saver Jimmy Howard absolutely stole a point tonight. Not only did the Wild dominate in the offensive zone, the Red Wings couldn't get out of their own way, giving the puck away most of the night and having a whale of a time trying to break out of the zone.
The onslaught started early when world-peace-bringer Jimmy Howard absolutely Clayton Stoner'ed Kyle Brodziak with a tremendous glove save. At the halfway mark of the first, shots on goal were 10-3 in favor of the Wild. Back when the Red Wings were posting 100-point seasons, first periods, they would either dominate the shot clock and come away with zero or one goal; or get bailed out by their goalie while the rest of the team tried to find their hockey legs.
The second narrative showed up when, on a Red Wings power play, Niklas Kronwall fired a puck that deflected off bodies in front of the net. Noted wheat-fields-skipper Gustav Nyquist found the rebound in the left circle and hit the open net for a 1-0 Red Wings lead, his 22nd goal of the season, his 17th since Jan. 20, and his sixth in the past five games. I'm looking in a dictionary right this second, and this .gif is definition 1. Nyquist might have to find some extra space on that back of his if he's gonna carry the team like this.
The first period wasn't finished. Tomas Tatar blocked a shot at the Detroit blue line, and before Tatar even poked the puck in his direction, Nyquist was streaking for a breakaway. Tatar poked the puck to center and Nyquist took the puck in stride, sipped some tea, read War and Peace, and completed a sketch of the Sistine Chapel ceiling before making Ilya Bryzgalov look silly on the breakaway for a 2-0 lead.
Of all the narratives of this season, the most terrifying has to be "two-goal lead." For whatever reason, we fear it, and we lose it. Remember how I said the Wild were dominating? Said domination continued into the second and led to a Kyle Quincey interference penalty. I'm not sure 10 seconds passed before it was 2-1 thanks to a Jason Pominville one-timer.
Despite getting dominated on the shot clock and in possession time (eyeballing it), the Red Wings did have chances. Even though Nyquist scored on the first power play, the power play was absolute garbage all night. The Nyquist goal was probably the only good chance they had on the power play, as I soon found myself averting my eyes and hiding behind a bunker whenever it was 5-on-4 favoring the Red Wings.
Hanging your goalie out to dry is going to catch up to you eventually, and the Wild tied the game quickly in the third. Kronwall's stick got slashed and broken without a call, so when he tried to take care of Matt Moulson in front, he couldn't tie up his stick and prevent the tying goal. (It was actually scored by Charlie Coyle on a rebound of Moulson's shot off the post.) A minute and forty-five seconds later, Zach Parise beat David Legwand to the front of the Red Wings' net, and the puck bounced off Parise for a 3-2 Wild lead. I know the Red Wings battled back resiliently, but going back to the Pittsburgh and Columbus games, I hate seeing this team give up goals in bunches like this
The Parise goal prompted a timeout from Mike Babcock, Who knows how many goals the Red Wings could have scored tonight if they actually took some shots on Bryzgalov. Tatar forced another turnover at the Red Wings' blueline and sent Brendan Smith streaking into the Wild zone. Smith fed Tatar who deked Ryan Suter to get to the middle of the ice and fire a laser past Bryzgalov to tie the game at 3 and give everyone hope again. Despite some terrifying sequences that threatened the overtime point, the Red Wings did make it to overtime before Moulson ended it, tipping a Jonas Brodin shot past Howard.
The way the defense handled the puck in this game was putrid. Jakub Kindl missed open teammates ten feet away from him. Brian Lashoff and Kindl couldn't get out of their own zone to save their lives. Danny DeKeyser had some terrible giveaways, and so did Smith. You're not going to get many shots on the opponent's net when every attempt to get out of your own zone ends up on the opponent's stick.
The forward play overall wasn't much better. The line of Johan Franzen, David Legwand, and Daniel Alfredsson looked like they just started playing hockey. I don't know if I find any comfort in the fact that this was the team's third game in four nights because that's the way the schedule is going to be from here on out. Lack of energy can't get in the way of a playoff push, or else they'll be resting their legs earlier than they want to.
Joakim Andersson was the screen in front on the Nyquist goal, but otherwise, he was rather unimpressive in his return. Expectations aren't necessarily high for him, but when the Red Wings need every bit of help in getting wins, and with lots of other players being iced every night needing to play above their expectations to help the team stay in the race, I'd like to see a lot more from Andersson.
As much as I was originally hoping the Red Wings would use some of their Grand Rapids players out of options next year, I think I'm starting to see why Landon Ferraro was kept down there as long as he was, and especially I'm starting to see why other players passed him on the depth chart the way they did.
I feel lazy saying Tuesday's game against Columbus is a "huge game coming up," especially since they're all big games with the Red Wings in their current position. But two points IN REGULATION on Tuesday would go a long way toward the Red Wings helping their own playoff chances and controlling their own destiny. They were very fortunate to get one point out of this game, but the road to the playoffs is paved with wins. Howard's doing his job. The rest of the team should figure out how to dominate everyone else the way the Wild dominated them tonight.