With one game standing between the Red Wings and the All-Star break, as well as getting Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary and possibly even Tomas Holmstrom back, they took the full two points in regulation thanks to a pair of third period goals.
After a trip to the land of Oz, Darren Helm found out that he had hands all along and put the Wings up 1-0 with 1:43 elapsed in the game. Kris Draper won a face-off in the Detroit defensive zone that went all the way out of the zone. Mark Fraser of the Devils went back to retrieve the puck but his cross-ice pass attempt was knocked down by Helm. Helm used his speed to gain some separation from the now-chasing defense and put a beautiful shot past all-time everything leader Martin Brodeur for an early lead.
The Devils tied the game at 6:35 of the first after Anton Volchenkov blasted a shot from above the face-off dot that Jimmy Howard couldn't quite secure and it squirted out to the side. Volchenkov followed up on the shot and poked the puck loose and with Nicklas Lidstrom, Todd Bertuzzi and half of the bench in the crease, Brian Rolston poked the puck into the net.
See how the third period played out after the jump...even though I kind of told you at the top of the post.
Valtteri Filppula scored the game-winning goal at 5:32 of the third period after Jakub Kindl took the puck away from Ilya Kovalchuk in New Jersey's offensive zone and started the play back out the other way. Kindl dumped the puck in to the offensive zone but it was gloved down by Mark Fayne. Fayne tried to clear it out of the zone but Kindl kept the puck in. Filppula got the puck up to Ruslan Salei at the point, who found Jiri Hudler on the far boards. With the Devils in a whirlwind defensively, Hudler found Filppula with a great cross-ice pass and Filppula had the equivalent of a slam dunk on the play and put the Wings up.
Later, New Jersey had a goal called off after the referee either lost sight of the puck or determined that Ilya Kovalchuk pushed Jimmy Howard into the net. For once, Detroit was on the "winning" side of this type of play. If allowed, the goal would have tied the game.
Johan Franzen scored the third and final goal of the game with under a minute to play. With the Devils looking to get Brodeur to the bench for the extra attacker, Henrik Zetterberg picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone. Zetterberg took the puck in with Justin Abdelkader going to the bench for a line change and was alone with three Devils' players. Franzen skated in the zone to help out and Zetterberg backhanded a pass to him. Franzen sidestepped Travis Zajac and ripped a shot past Brodeur for the insurance goal.
The Red Wings outshot the Devils 29-24 in the game, with a 22-14 margin in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
:: Video Highlights ::
:: Analysis ::
- Hats off to Darren Helm, he had a superb game. Scored a breakaway, took a slapshot like a man and then came back on the ice, killed off another 20 seconds on a penalty by himself and had several great plays.
- Valtteri Filppula had a great game, too. In addition to the goal, Flip was creating great chances in the zone all night and being paired with Hudler is allowing them to get some open ice with their passing skills.
- Jakub Kindl might have had his best game of the season, too. There was one play where he looked pretty awful: Salei fumbled the puck and at the blueline and the Devils had a 2-on-1 and Kindl had no idea where the puck was as Zajac and Kovalchuk were in on Howard. Other than that, he looked like a markedly more confident player tonight in both ends of the ice and even threw out a few good hits. It will be interesting to see how he builds on this.
- Despite raising the blood pressure of many of those in the thread, I think Johan Franzen (or Franzine if you're Chico) had a pretty solid game. He was quiet early on but he stepped it up throughout the rest of the game and finished the game with a goal, five shots on net and four hits. He started playing more in the middle of the ice, which is his space and he's dominant when he gets that space.
- It was cool to see Abdelkader get some power play time tonight (1:08). That's all I have to say about that.
- Everyone seemed to have a good game last night...Jimmy Howard played pretty solid tonight. Except for the rebound that he should have smothered that lead to the goal, Jimmah stood tall at times (example: the aforementioned chance after Salei fumbled the puck). With the win, Jimmy is now 23-8-3 on the season and could easily get 35+ wins again this season. He looked sharp and hopefully the time off will help to recharge his batteries when the Wings get back to work on February 2nd.
- If Brodeur wasn't in net tonight (or just not on top of his game), it might have been about 6-1 or higher because he played very well. There's little chance he stops Filppula's goal and Helm's and Franzen's were both from a great spot on the ice for a shooter. He definitely kept this close down to the wire.
- Andy Greene was given the award for most trippable player in the league after the game.
- Weird stat of the night: Well, it's not for just tonight but after tonight, Jonathan Ericsson is a +10 and Nicklas Lidstrom is a -2. Thanks, Tom Kostopoulos.
- Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton played tonight? Are you sure? I'll give them a pass, it's just rare that you go a whole game without noticing two players.