I could literally feel the wave of relief wash over me when the buzzer finally ended the game last night in a 4-1 victory. The Wings were able to win their second straight game for the first time in a month.
Brian Rafalski returned last night from his groin injury. He scored a goal 6:11 into the third period on a nice pass from Aaron Downey, who did not get a +1 for that because he got off the ice on a switch by the time the goal was scored. And then what was even more surprising was to see Rafalski wrestle down Jeff Woywitka, who was probably 30 pounds bigger, to the ice. Rafalski is probably one of the last people on the team I'd suspect of getting into a wrestling match like that in a game. He did so because of a hit on Tomas Kopecky that left him slowly skating towards the bench. After the game, Babcock said that Kopecky is fine, but I guess we'll know for sure if he's practicing with the team on Friday.
"I didn't really see it, I got knocked over," Rafalski said. "He (Legace) didn't move. I didn't move. I didn't know where the puck was."
As for the wrestling match, things got a little testy after the Blues' Jeff Woywitka hit Tomas Kopecky late in the game.
Kopecky appeared dazed going off the ice, but coach Mike Babcock said Kopecky was fine.
"No problem, he just got dazed," Babcock said.
Rafalski eventually got entangled with Lee Stempniak.
"It just happened," Rafalski said.
With Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski back on defense, the team is able to move the puck around more quickly, which is why we're seeing an increase in scoring (as well as an improvement on defense).
Pavel Datsyuk scored twice against the Blues with one coming in the remaining minute and a half of the game on an empty net. He was the only player to notch two points in the game.
Last night, we also got to see the secondary pick up as Rafalski and Johan Franzen each scored. On top of that, we saw assists from a variety of players including Tomas Holmstrom, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, Henrik Zetterberg, Aaron Downey, and Andreas Lilja.
Hasek made 18 saves in the game.
"Obviously, he's got to continue to get better and better for us to have a chance come playoff time," said Babcock.
The team took today off and will practice on Friday. They play next on Sunday at home.