The Red Wings welcomed fellow Original Six member team the Montreal Canadiens to the Joe Louis Arena on Friday night and earned a 4-2 victory to end both their three-game losing streak and the Habs' three-game winning streak. Montreal jumped on the board first, but couldn't hold back the Red Wings' onslaught through the first two periods, opening the third frame down 3-1. Despite an overwhelming advantage in shots and scoring chances for the opposition, Detroit was able to stem the tide and cut off the Montreal comeback attempt with an empty-net goal.
To get a better idea of just how one-sided the third period was, the Wings entered play with a 29-19 shot advantage only to see the Canadiens double that output on the way to a 19-3 shots advantage for the period, ending the game outshooting the Wings 39-32. Fortunately, the Habs could not keep themselves out of the penalty box, giving the Red Wings six power plays on the night, including a 5-on-3 advantage that created the game-tying goal off Lidstrom's stick. Overall, the Wings' power play went 1-for-6 while their PK squad held Montreal off the scoresheet in their one advantage. I guess Teemu Selanne was on to something when he cried like a little girl about the reffing discrepancy at the Joe.
Jimmy Howard got stronger as the game went on after giving up what I'm considering a half-soft goal in the first period off a faceoff. His play in the third period earned him plenty of credit to make up for any minor scorn he might have earned with a split-second bad decision there though, putting up four monumental saves. Overall, his rating on the night is +3.5
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: At the 3:26 mark of the first, Pavel draws one as he plays a give-and-go with Zetterberg at the Montreal blue line and forces Roman Hamrlik to step in front of him to avoid being embarrassed. Datsyuk gets a plus.
1st Period 11:25 - Montreal Goal: Travis Moen (wrist shot) from Mike Cammalleri and Jeff Halpern
Val Filppula loses a faceoff in the defensive zone that moves to the center of the ice. Moen runs a nice pick on Salei to allow Cammalleri to get to the puck. The first shot attempt is blocked by Kronwall directly back to Cammalleri. Mike tries another shot that again hits Kronwall and deflects wide of the net. Howard guesses wrong about which side the puck's coming out from and ends up too high in his crease. Moen picks it up and banks the puck off of Howard and into the net. I'm going to call this half a bad goal by Howard, as his failure to get back into his post led to this goal. As a result of this, Filppula is going to get only a half-minus for losing the faceoff. Franzen and Bertuzzi will be cleared of their minuses. Despite the Canadian announcers wanting to talk about Bertuzzi needing to get over to cover Cammalleri, the replay shows this play happens faster than even Helm could move to make that coverage. Salei and Kronwall will also see their minuses halved. They could have played this better, but Howard's mistake was the most costly here.
Penalty Adjustment: A few minutes after the Montreal goal, the 2nd line is pressing to try to tie it up with some good zone pressure. Bertuzzi forechecks aggressively, forcing Cammalleri to try to chip the puck over him. Thankfully, Cammalleri is seven feet shorter than Bertuzzi (give or take) and can't do that. Bert blocks the outlet and outworks the diminutive Hab for the puck, pushing a pass into the slot for Val Filppula which forces Josh Gorges to hook him. Bertuzzi works to earn this penalty and will get a plus.
1st Period 19:58 - Detroit Goal (PP): Nicklas Lidstrom (snap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom
Detroit's on a 5-on-3 power play thanks to a chintzy hooking call on Cammalleri and a very good tripping call on Plekanec. The Canadiens kill off most of the 5-on-3, but right before the period ends, Rafalski gets the puck in the faceoff dot as the power play unit is closing in on the Canadien's net. He throws it at the goal, but it's blocked to the corner by Josh Gorges. Gorges grabs the puck before Rafalski thanks to a fantastic pick here run by the referee. Fortunately for the Wings, Gorges inexplicably refuses to turn and fire the puck up ice, giving Holmstrom enough time to relieve him of the puck and pass it to Datsyuk behind the net. Datsyuk immediately finds Lidstrom at the top of the crease and he snaps it home past Price to even up the score. There is no scoring adjustment on this play. Gorges' decision not to clear the puck is a huge mistake for the Montreal penalty killer and the Wings took advantage.
2nd Period 3:34 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Danny Cleary and Johan Franzen
This play starts as Datsyuk throws the puck low in the zone to complete a line change. Cleary fights for the puck on the boards, forcing two Montreal defensemen to battle. Franzen eventually steps in and forces a weak clearing attempt past him that Abdelkader intercepts and passes back to Franzen. Mule turns with the puck and throws a pass to the front of the net for Cleary, who is tied up with a defender. Cleary has to dive for the puck, which is nearly out of his reach. From his stomach, Cleary pokes the puck to an on-rushing Niklas Kronwall, who settles the puck and fires a wrister past Price. Cleary will pick up an extra assist on this play for his work along the boards to free up the puck. Justin Abdelkader will also get an assist.
Penalty Adjustment: 13:17 into the 2nd period, Jonathan Ericsson takes the Wings' only penalty of the game as Jeff Halpern and Travis Moen move in 2-on-2. The Habs' forwards cross over as Halpern feeds Moen skating up ice. Jonathan Ericsson has body position on Moen to keep him to the outside, but takes a lazy hooking penalty here. As a result, Ericsson earns a minus.
2nd Period 15:31 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (backhand) from Jonathan Ericsson and Henrik Zetterberg
The Wings kill off the Ericsson penalty with a final clear into the Montreal zone. Benoit Pouliot carries through center ice with Zetterberg hounding him. Stuart and Zetterberg combine to force Pouliot to the side boards where Z tips the puck to Ericsson, who brings it to the Wings' blue line and passes to Datsyuk. Pavel takes it in full-stride and walks around Hal Gill, who tries laying out to poke it off Datsyuk's stick, but Pavel uses his skate to fight off the sweep and catches Price going down to cut off the lower portion of the net. Datsyuk deposits it top shelf over Price's shoulder to put the Wings up 3-1. Zetterberg will earn an extra plus here for his defensive work separating Pouliot from the puck with a half-plus to Stuart for his help in isolating Pouliot. Datsyuk will also get a half-plus for the way he fought off the Hal Gill stick sweep attempt.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the 2nd period, the Wings move the puck into the Montreal zone with speed as Kronwall finds Filppula with a cross-ice pass over two lines. Filppula receives the puck behind him and uses that to spin into the Habs' zone for a great opportunity on the rush. Flip goes to Datsyuk's office and waits for Cleary to cut toward the net before throwing a pass his way. Cleary's speed and purpose forces Subban to step in front of him to break up the play. Subban takes a hooking penalty for what probably should have been a trip instead. Both Cleary and Filppula will get a half-plus for forcing this penalty.
3rd Period 7:43 - Montreal Goal: Benoit Pouliot (slap shot) unassisted
This play comes on the tail end of some very aggressive Montreal forechecking, some dirty play, and some gassed Red Wings. The puck first enters the zone at the 6:46 mark and doesn't leave until 7:38. During this time, the Wings defense does a good job blocking lanes and keeping the puck to the outside, but about halfway through this play, Brad Stuart has his stick pulled out of his hands right in front of the ref with no call. Bertuzzi actually throws his stick to Stuart to keep playing defense, including pressuring PK Subban at the point to shoot the puck wide, which allows Filppula to get to it first and poke it out of the zone. The puck doesn't make the center red line, but both Bertuzzi and Lidstrom change here as Pouliot picks up the loose puck and skates back in on the Wings players who could not get off the ice. Pouliot skates to the high slot and fires a slap shot past Jimmy Howard to cut the lead to one. I'm actually not going to let any player on this play keep a minus, meaning Stuart, Filppula, Franzen, along with Cleary and Kronwall (the two who had just stepped onto the ice) will not get minuses. Furthermore, I'm going to award Bertuzzi a half-plus for throwing his stick to Stuart and playing some really good defense on this play. If the penalty for snatching Stu's stick out of his hands gets called, this goal never happens.
3rd Period 19:14 - Detroit Goal: Patrick Eaves (wrist shot) unassisted
The Canadiens are trying to tie the game up late with Carey Price on the bench for the extra attacker. Some good defensive work by the Wings keeps the puck to the outside, where Roman Hamrlik misses an errant pass. Eaves races to the open point to beat his man to the puck and poke it past the blue line. Patrick gains the center red stripe and throws the puck into the open net for the game-clincher. Darren Helm will get a half-plus on this play for some fantastic defensive work on this sequence, pressuring his man into making a bad pass.
+1 to Patrick Eaves: The goal he scored was just the icing on the cake for this grinder who played very well in his 11:38 worth of ice time. He took four shots on goal and created two separate Carey Price turnovers with his forechecking. He should be hard to sit after this one.
+1 Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg: The Twins were on their game tonight in all three zones again. In fact, these two were the only Wings' skaters on the night with a positive Corsi rating. This was no doubt helped by their eight combined shots.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: The Wings captain was extremely solid in his own end during this game. He broke up a 2-on-1 rush and countless other scoring opportunities and was easily the most solid defenseman on the ice for Detroit.
+0.5 to Ruslan Salei: He barely registered at all on the stat sheet, blocking one shot, delivering one hit, and having one shot go wide, but in his own zone, he was noticeable in a good way.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: In the same vein as Salei, Big Rig played a defensively solid game. He got a minus for the lazy hooking penalty he took, but let's not let that overshadow another very good game in his own zone.
Honorable Mentions: cementing my reputation as a Hudlerphile, I'm going to say he played well again. Unfortunately, he didn't play well enough to earn any bonus points. Also, plus one hilarious point to Brian Rafalski for rolling his eyes at Tomas Plekanec when the guy went down like your mother at Mardi Gras following a clean hip check.
Tomorrow night, we visit the hapless Devils and their massively overpaid Russian. I like the way Datsyuk tends to play against highly-touted Russians and I'm expecting a big game out of him.