The Red Wings fought hard tonight in a game where they knew they had to show up with a better effort than they had on Tuesday against Columbus. At the end of the game, I felt they accomplished this. Unfortunately, a team can still make mistakes while trying hard and the Red Wings made enough of them to earn the loss. Despite the Sharks playing the kind of defensive shell hockey that signaled the end of so many Detroit leads last season, Detroit could not pot the game-tying goal.
This time, Detroit got on the boards first as Henrik Zetterberg put home a purposefully-wide shot off Nick Lidstrom's stick. Then, to start the 2nd period, Danny Cleary took a tripping call of a faceoff and the Sharks tied it off a Clowe shot. Marleau made it 2-1 about five minutes later after beating out Ian White in a footrace and sweeping it over Howard's shoulder. Detroit was able to pull even thanks to a Martin Havlat cross-check and a Tomas Holmstrom tip off a Datsyuk shot. The tie wouldn't survive the period though, as Pavelski sprung Joe Thornton on a breakaway from center and the Sharks' captain buried it. Finally, after a hard-fought third period, Thornton put the nail into the empty-net coffin with the Wings pressing to tie in the game's 60th minute.
Bullet points after the jump.
- Datsyuk, Zetterberg, White, and Lidstrom were all -2 on the night. It's not all Ian White's fault, but it's a lot of Ian White's fault. If there's ever a good time to take a penalty, it's when Patrick Marleau has a step on you for a loose puck coming in on your goalie. The Thornton breakaway and eventual game-winner was the whole line's fault, but it was also White who failed to recognize he was the last man back when he pinched on Pavelski instead of backing off to cover Thornton.
- This game by Howard is a bit hard to judge. I thought he made a lot of incredible saves and helped keep his team in it, but I really would have liked him to have been a bit more superhuman to have gotten the three goals that got by him. The first was a cross-ice pass where he squared to the shooter instead of the puck. The second was a pretty incredible shot over him by a guy who wasn't tied up enough for Howard to have made a more aggressive move. The third was a sneaky sweep through the five-hole on a non-move by Thornton. I don't think any of the goals were bad goals, but it would have been awesome for him to have stopped one of them.
- Hey look, I made it all the way to bullet point #3 before bitching about the refs. Holmstrom had a goal waved off in the first because Niemi skated out of his crease to make contact. As they're both going down, Homer sweeps it above his own head and into the net. Thankfully, Brian Pochmara was there to be the good guy and heroically wave off a goal that would have stood if it had been anybody but Holmstrom.
- Since I already crossed that line, how about we jump completely over it? The reffing standard was flat awful. Justin Abdelkader got away with a charge, Jonathan Ericsson got away with a slew foot (while being interfered with), and Patrick Eaves got away with what could have been called an elbow. Ok, you Sharks fans believe me that I'm not just homer-whining? Ah, who cares either way? Brent Burns missing a big hit (and an attempted elbow) and Filppula followed by Vlasic chasing Flip down and punching him after a whistle was a stupid non-call. Burns later threw a haymaker at Holmstrom and got away scott-free. I'm hoping Shanahan takes note of that because it sure as hell looked like a head shot to me.
- I'm not happy with a loss, but I'll take that over one where the Wings have a crappy effort. I thought they moved their feet a lot better in this game. There were a couple of times (like on the Hudler penalty) where I felt they were letting the puck come to them instead of going to get it again, but overall, there was much more hustle.
- So we know that Holmstrom isn't likely to play back-to-backs, but Abdelkader had a pretty good game as the fourth line center. Who plays tomorrow against Minnesota? I'm thinking Brunnstrom gets his next chance to wow the Wings against the Junior Sharks. On the defensive side, we're hearing talk that Commodore may be ready to go. Do you think that either Kindl or Ericsson should sit at this point to give him a shot? I mean, that pairing wasn't a problem tonight. They could have played better, but they weren't detrimental to the team. Do you shake up the D-corps simply for the sake of shaking it up?
- Four PoTG nominees to vote on today. Jimmy Howard's save percentage was sub-.900, but he had a very solid game. Lidstrom had two assists, let the team in ice time, and did a very solid job against the Sharks' top line (despite his plus/minus). Zetterberg skated very well, had a goal, and won 14 out of his 17 faceoffs while taking seven shots on goal. Finally, Holmstrom had a goal (and should have had two). He was stick-handling extremely well in the third period, and did a lot of things right while avoiding taking penalties and getting under people's skins. Vote below. As always, there will be an "other" category as well. Feel free to put your vote in the comments.