I don't want to get too excited in November, but championship teams tend to find ways to win games like this. The Wings have still yet to play their best game for 60 minutes, but their 2-goal third period comeback capped off by an overtime game-winner by Nick Lidstrom was good enough for points 10 and 11 earned on their now-ended six game homestand. Only an overtime loss to MInnesota on Friday kept them from running the table.
Coming back down to Earth, the Wings did not play great in the 2nd period and nearly had their comeback killed by a four-minute penalty by Todd Bertuzzi. Also, Ericsson, Cleary, and Modano were all hurt to varying extents, which may turn out to be the worst possible way to solve the Eaves/Miller conundrum AND the problem of there being no room for Kris Draper. Let's hope for the best. On the other side, Robyn Regehr injured his knee trying for a hard-but-clean check on Modano that he missed, sending himself into the boards. Let's get to the analysis.
Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 27 Calgary shots on the night. I thought he was still struggling too much with rebounds and he does slip back into overplaying angles, which I thought bit him pretty badly on Iginla's second goal of the night. Overall, his defense has more to answer for than he does though. I counted three big saves on the night, but am charging him with half a bad goal on each of Iginla's markers. His rating was +2.
Scoring and plus/minus adjusment after the jump.
1st Period 1:56- Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (snap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Nick Lidstrom
Calgary is shorthanded here because Robyn Regehr gets a bit excited about the game starting and tries to share his excitement with Filppula by slamming into him away from the puck and sending him flying into the boards. After 40 seconds worth of no-go from the first unit, they regroup and bring in with Homer-Pavs-Mule-Raffi-Lidstrom. Holmstrom has a slight mishandle in the left faceoff circle which Giordano tries to quickly slap clear of the zone, but a fantastic play by Lidstrom holds it in. Lidstrom shoots at the screen in front, bouncing the puck off Jay Bouwmeester and straight to Rafalski. Rafalski quickly feeds across ice to Franzen, who rips it past Kiprusoff before he can make the cross-crease adjustment on the shooter. I'm going to award Lidstrom a plus here. Difficult keep-ins are often the difference between a wasted power play and a successful one and stopping the Giordano clear to control so quickly is one of the reason he's the league's best D-man.
1st Period 5:21 - Calgary Goal: Niklas Hagman (backhand) from Jarome Iginla
After a fantastic outlet pass from Lidstrom gets Filppula and Bertuzzi into the zone stacked into what is basically a modified 3-on-2. Filppula drops to Bert, who shoots for top corner and misses by a hair. The puck comes up up around the boards where Ruslan Salei whiffs on the puck. Iginla picks it up at the line and carries it into the zone backwards where he finds Niklas Hagman streaking in. Hagman is behind the defense and Kronwall has stepped up on Iginla, so this becomes a breakaway which Hagman converts. Filppula and Bertuzzi will not receive minuses on this play. They worked to create the scoring chance, but Salei's miss causes this problem. Salei will receive an extra half-minus for missing the puck. Kronwall will also not keep his minus; he was in position and had his man squeezed off like he should. Mike Modano will also get an extra half-minus. He was slow to come back and Hagman was his man. He was not skating hard through the neutral zone to get back on him.
2nd Period 0:54 - Calgary Goal: Jarome Iginla (wrist shot) from Matt Stajan
After a Calgary dump-in, Rafalski plays a bit cute and has the puck stripped from him by Matt Stajan. Stajan quickly turns with the puck and feeds Iginla out front for a short-side goal past Howard. First glance, it looked like Howard had no chance, but replay shows he had time to get over and get squared. It's a good shot by Iginla, and closing all the holes while moving is difficult, but it's a stop I want to see Jimmy Howard make when he's really on his game. Rafalski's turnover was just as bad as Salei's on the first goal, so he'll get the same treatment. Half-minus for Raffi. Aside from that, Ericsson and Franzen both had chances to either block the pass or the shot, so they will keep their minuses. Both Holmstrom and Zetterberg were doing their jobs when the play below them developed; neither will receive a minus.
2nd Period 4:09 - Calgary Goal (PP): Jarome Iginla (snap shot) from Alex Tanguay
Bertuzzi is in the box for this power play goal against for taking a penalty 200 feet from his own net. The hold is unnecessary and not a difficult call to make, considering the reffing standard to that point in the game. Bert will get a minus for this penalty. On this PK, the Wings fight for the puck on the boards and manage to free it for Stuart, who spins around and throws the puck up the middle hoping to clear. Tanguay blocks the attempt with a play as impressive as Lidstrom's first period move and takes a step forward before winding up for a slapshot that turns into a pass to Iginla's stick at the side. Howard is outside the front of his crease when the pass gets to Iginla and in his butterfly already. Stuart comes closer to blocking the Iginla shot into the open net than Howard does. I'm giving Howard half a bad goal here for deciding he was going to go into his butterfly as soon as Tanguay wound up, rather than checking his body language to see he was obviously angling for a pass. Stuart will get a half-minus for a clear that, had he gotten it off the ice, probably would have been the right decision.
3rd Period 2:28 - Detroit Goal (PP): Pavel Datsyuk (tip in) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski
While the teams skate four-on-four to start the third period, Bertuzzi makes up for his previous offensive zone penalty by drawing one. The one thing he does best is to shield the puck from the opposition and he does a good job of that there, causing Cory Sarich to take a hooking call. Bert earns a plus here for his work drawing the penalty. While the four-on-four time expires before the power play even starts, Detroit exhibits good puck movement in the five-on-four, thanks in part to it almost looking like a six-on-three with the way Jay Bouwmeester plays this. He has a weak clear bounce off the boards directly to Rafalski, who throws it low to Holmstrom. Homer is unable to control the puck and it ends up back on Bouwmeester's stick. Jay throws another weak attempt up the middle which Rafalski picks off, this time feeding over to Lidstrom for a one-time slapper just wide and directly on Pavel Datsyuk's stick for the redirect in past Kiprussoff. Rafalski won't get the same keeping-the-puck-in bonus rating because of just how soft both attempts are. However, Holmstrom will get a half-assist. Standing in front of Kiprusoff, he forces Robyn Regehr to pay attention to the pest and to try to tie up Homer's stick out front, leaving Pavel completely forgotten about. This puck comes so close to Regehr that he could have blown it off course with a well-timed fart, but Homer is the guy he's watching.
3rd Period 7:14 - Calgary Goal: Alex Tanguay (wrist shot) unassisted
After Val Filppula tries to carry in 1-on-2 and almost succeeds, the play comes the other way. Ericsson initially makes a heads-up play and intercepts a pass, but gets rid of the good will here by trying a back pass to Rafalski that not only doesn't have enough on it, but is also right in Raffi's feet. Tanguay pressures Rafalski, who makes enough of a mistake of his own trying to take control of the puck and he ends up completely missing. With the Dearborn native now lying prone on the faceoff dot, Tanguay grabs the puck and walks across the ice, out-waiting Jimmy Howard and putting home the goal that threatened to end the Wings' comeback chances. Both Rafalski and Ericsson will receive half-minuses for flubbing this play while FIlppula and Franzen will keep their minuses. Filppula is not going to get exonerated for the mistakes down lower after turning the puck over; it just doesn't work that way. Franzen is back, but gets walked pretty badly by Tanguay. Bertuzzi will not get a minus though. As soon as Ericsson steals the puck, he takes off up-ice because that's his damn job.
BONUS MINUS: I'm playing around with putting the penalty-based bonus minuses here because I think this one helps with the narrative for the way the game played out. Let me know what you think of doing it this way. At any rate, at 8:02 of the 3rd period and with Detroit down 2 goals, Todd Bertuzzi steps in front of Calgary's Kostopoulos on a routine dump-in. Kostogreeksurname does a good job of selling it, but the interference is obvious enough even without the antics. On top of that, Bertuzzi gets another two for mouthing off to the ref. This play will earn him two minuses. Both penalties are ridiculous and if not for Calgary shooting themselves in the foot, we're looking at him as the big-time goat of this game.
3rd Period 11:04 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (backhand) from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall
This is an even-strength goal at four-on-four because 1:26 into Bertuzzi's double minor, Niklas Hagman gets called for the game's weakest penalty, a small bit of stick-on-stick violence that evens up the manpower on the ice. After an Ericsson pass that fails to connect cross-ice in Detroit's zone, Rafalski collects and passes off to Datsyuk with speed in a play that looks a lot like the set power play carry-in that Datsyuk usually does. Zetterberg keeps pace and receives the pass from Pavel on Calgary's side of the neutral zone. As Datsyuk drives the net with speed, Zetterberg cuts across the middle. Once in the high slot, he releases a tricky backhand that Kiprusoff probably should have had but that I am very grateful he didn't. There is no scoring adjustment on this play.
3rd Period 19:56 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (snap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski
Late in the game with Detroit pressing, Justin Abdelkader draws a penalty on Jay Bouwmeester, forcing him to interfere. Even better, Abby then draws Jarome Iginla into what should have been a fight if the linesmen hadn't jumped in while both visor-wearing players were trying to remove their helmets to make the vicious punching of one another's faces that much more gentlemanly. Abdelkader will get a plus-and-a-half here. Not only did he put Detroit up a man, but he also canceled with Calgary's most dangerous player. After being stymied for most of the power play and with Jimmy Howard off for the extra skater for the last minute of the game, Detroit has to clear the zone after Rafalski fails to hold the puck in. Raffi re-collects and throws it in weakly, where it's picked off and cleared back out. Grabbing the puck one last time and with time running out, he throws it across the neutral zone, hoping it will get picked up by a skater who knows what he's doing. Thankfully, the puck finds its owner, Pavel Datsyuk and begins its journey towards the back of Calgary's net. Both of the Flames' penalty-killing forwards converge on Datsyuk, but he splits them both and carries in with a 2-on-1 with Zetterberg. Cory Sarich has no stick here, so he's powerless to stop the cross-ice pass to Hank for the open net game-tying goal with 3.6 seconds left on the clock. Rafalski messed this play up twice and then softly threw a pass across, forcing Datsyuk to do all the work to make the play happen. I do not think Raffi earned an assist on that play and will not give him one. Datsyuk walking two defenders here is the stuff that acid trips are made of and he will receive a plus for creating this play.
Overtime 1:38 - Detroit Goal: Nicklas Lidstrom (backhand) from Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi
Detroit carries play throughout the overtime period and eventually get the game-winner on some great play. First, Modano gets sandwiched between two Calgary defenders and has to come off the ice with an injury. Darren Helm comes on as Brad Stuart receives the puck high in the Detroit zone. Stuart bounces a pass off the boards to the speedster and he carries in. By following up his initial shot on goal, Helm turns one scoring opportunity into three, eventually retrieving the puck behind the Calgary net. He first tries to feed Bertuzzi out front, but the big toothless guy is still gunshy, so he passes back to Helm and heads behind the net. Helm carries back out front around the faceoff circle and catches Lidstrom sneaking in on the back door behind an oblivious Jarome Iginla. Lidstrom doesn't want to chance missing the wide-open net this time as Kiprusoff sprawls to stop him, so just to show off how awesome he is, he dances around Kipper and pots it on the backhand for the game-winner. I considered taking away half of Bertuzzi's assist, but I'll leave it as-is, because his trip behind the Calgary net draws Sarich too low to stop the cross-ice pass to Lidstrom. I will however give Brad Stuart a half-assist for the pass that sends Helm into the zone with speed. The speed is what gives Helm room to create this play in the first place. I will also give Helm a full plus for a whole host of decisions which lead to the game-winner by Lidstrom.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk: He spent the night hitting, shooting, and taking the puck away. This was another of those "best players need to be the best" nights and he stepped up. Four shots on goal (seven total attempts) three takeaways and 71% of faceoffs won. He definitely brought his A game.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: The move to undress Kiprusoff was just sick. He was again in perfect position all night. Iginla's damage came when Sutter successfully got Iggy away from Lidstrom (Nick was on for the 2nd goal, but on the opposite side of the ice after the failed clear). Iginla might have had 3 points on the night, but he had a negative 6 Corsi rating thanks in large part to Lidstrom's coverage.
+0.5 to Henrik Zetterberg: It doesn't really do the guy justice to say that he took advantage of the opportunities that Datsyuk helped create because there's an entire hall in Toronto dedicated to the kinds of guys who simply bury their chances in big moments when handed them. Zetterberg played fantastic tonight carrying the puck and finishing opportunities.
Honorable mentions: This was a night where the generalized scoring did a good job of rewarding and punishing those who deserved it. I think Hudler came out strong, but really faded late, but not badly enough to get a minus. The same could be said for Modano, who wasn't noticeable most of the night. Franzen might have deserved a plus for a handful of good plays, but he was out there for two goals against where he had a chance to make a defensive play, so he gets no adjustment.
Next Wings game is on the road in Atlanta on Wednesday. This will be the first game against the (L)Eastern Conference for Detroit this season. This is where championship teams grab their points.