Detroit entered the second night of back-to-back games against division leaders with a chance to turn a bad start on a homestand into 9 of a possible 12 points. By the end of the game against the Dallas Stars, they had exerted a dominant stance and were frustrating the young surprising team. The two teams played it close for a while, but Detroit was consistently the better team and cruised to a 5-2 win.
The lone dark spot on the Wings' four-game winning streak is a power play that can create chances, but simply can't finish on them. Detroit's power play went 0-fer again. They technically had four chances, but the last one came with only 8 seconds left in the period. On the other side, the Wings stayed disciplined and only gave the Stars two power play opportunities, but allowed them to score on one of them. Still, if not for a miss on a wide-open net, the Wings' PKers would have had a goal and did fairly well. Overall, Detroit outshot Dallas 40-27 on the strength of a 16-7 2nd period.
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Even when Detroit was up 3-2, I felt that Howard was outplayed by Raycroft. Then the rest of the third period happened and the goalies pulled back to even in the head-to-head. Detroit badly outshot and outchanced Dallas and Raycroft made a lot of very good saves. Howard nearly matched that, but he let in a goal he shouldn't have. I felt he did make positive-difference kind of saves which helped to at least prevent momentum from swinging in Dallas' favor, but the guys in front of him had a lot more to do with this victory. Howard will get a +0.5 on the overall rating.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 07:09 - Dallas Goal (PP): Loui Eriksson (wrist shot) from Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn
The Penalty - Nicklas Lidstrom (interference): Lidstrom has a shot blocked by Eriksson, who has a chance to go the other way. As a last resort, Lidstrom holds up Eriksson and goes to the box. It's a good penalty to take, but it's his own fault he had to take it. Lidstrom will get a minus.
Dallas' power play does a good job cycling around the edges to move the PKers around with Eriksson, Benn, Burish, and Daley all getting touches. Benn tries to feed Burish from behind the own net, but the puck hits the outside of the goal and deflects out to the point where Daley picks it up. Eaves goes to challenge, but gets caught guessing on a shot block which allows Daley to take a step into the middle and release a low wrist shot at traffic in front (with Burish screening). The puck bounces off the traffic and directly to Loui Eriksson at the side of the net for the easy put-in. The problem on the defense here is that Stuart and Kronwall are responsible for covering Benn at the near side low, Burish in front, and Eriksson on the back door. Unfortunately, when Eaves allows the shot to come from the middle, both D-men go for the block and miss. Eriksson is standing to Stuart's side and is completely uncovered by Stuart's decision to go for the block. I'm going to give half-minuses to Eaves, Stuart, and Kronwall for blown coverages leading to this goal. All three of them tried and failed to block a shot and as a result let the rebound get to an uncovered player.
1st Period 17:17 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (slap shot) from Danny Cleary and Tomas Holmstrom
Datsyuk wins an offensive zone faceoff clean and helps the Wings get established in the zone while Holmstrom and Stuart play give-and-go. Homer has it low on the boards with Ribeiro coming in to pressure him. Souray is standing to the inside on the goal line at the side of the net to cover in case Homer gets it to Datsyuk for a shot at the net. Robidas is standing his ground at the far post just in case.. hell, I don't know. Just in case Kronwall sneaks low and Burish doesn't cover him? At any rate, Homer throws it to Cleary with space behind the net. Robidas can't get to him quick enough and he throws a backhand pass to Kronwall at the top of the faceoff circle which Kronner steps into and blasts through Raycroft to tie it. Burish has to give Kronner the room on this play because both Souray and Robidas are standing on the outside edges of the defensive box and there's nobody to cover the middle. It's not a very good defensive setup by the Stars and it costs them here. Still, Datsyuk and Stuart will both pick up half-assists (fourth and third) for getting this play set up in the offensive zone.
2nd Period 03:08 - Detroit Goal: Ian White (slap shot) from Drew Miller and Nicklas Lidstrom
Coming out of the Detroit zone, Emmerton gets forced off the puck by a strong Stars forecheck. Toby Peterson picks it up and goes the other way with it on a developing odd-man. Peterson tries to hit his winger coming into the zone, but Lidstrom is there to block the pass with a great reach. Drew Miller comes back and collects it while Dallas backs into a defensive position. Miller plays give-and-go with Lidstrom to collect it with speed coming through center ice and gain the Dallas zone quickly. Miller takes it to Datsyuk's corner while both Emmerton and Eaves crash the front of the net. Miller's Datsyukian pull-up ends with the puck being swept just off his stick by the Stars' defender, but he's able to recover and push the puck past a diving sweep check attempt by Tom Wandell. White gets it at the blue line and fires a slapshot through a screen made up of both Emmerton and Eaves. Raycroft is caught completely guessing as the puck goes over his shoulder. Lidstrom is going to get a bonus plus for the poke check which ends the Dallas rush and turns it the other way. Both Eaves and Emmerton will earn a screener's assist on this one as Raycroft is leaning very heavily to try to see around a big screen when the shot comes through.
Penalty Adjustment: 6:12 into the 2nd period, Drew Miller gets a minus for running a pretty blatant pick on Jake Dowell in the neutral zone.
2nd Period 12:11 - Dallas Goal: Brenden Morrow (snap shot) from Mike Ribeiro and Adam Burish
The Stars create a rush on a trap defense which ends in a puck coming into the middle of their own zone and a nice pick run by Brendan Morrow to prevent Justin Abdelkader from making a play. This sends Burish, Ribeiro and Morrow in on an odd-man against Ericsson and Kindl. Burish pulls up high in the Wings' zone and bounces a puck off the end boards to Ribeiro behind the Detroit net. Mikey Ribs brings it around the far side of the net where he catches Ericsson halfway between deciding to challenge the man and cover the pass to Brenden Morrow at the bottom of the faceoff circle. The pass gets through and Morrow one-times it through Howard's armpit on the near side. This is a soft goal for Howard, who needs to have this spot covered. I'm going to clear the minuses for Helm, Kindl, Abdelkader, Hudler, and Ericsson as a result. However, Ericsson is going to earn back a half-minus for the coverage mistake though. The goal definitely shouldn't get through where it did, but neither should the pass.
Penalty Adjustment: 14:47 into the 2nd, Tomas Holmstrom does good forechecking work in the Dallas end and ends up drawing a holding penalty on Brenden Morrow for it. Holmstrom will get a plus.
3rd Period 03:47 - Detroit Goal: Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Valtteri Filppula and Brad Stuart
The Wings are met by the Dallas trap early in the third period in a tie game, but are willing to do the dump-and-chase work necessary to create a chance anyway (hear that, Philly?). Souray gets the dump-in on the far side and pokes it to Robidas behind his own net to try to beat the pressure of Zetterberg. Z keeps hounding the puck and forces Robidas to make a quick pass which misses Adam Burish and goes to Stuart at the point. While the defense pressures up on Stuart, Filppula skates to the half-boards behind them and collects a pass. From here, Robidas jumps over to cover Filppula and promptly gets his dick deked off by Filppula. Flip tries to throw a backhander around a sprawling Raycroft, but the Stars goalie stops it. Fortunately, Zetterberg is right on the doorstep tying up with Souray, which allows Franzen to come in, collect the loose puck, and net the eventual game-winner. Zetterberg will earn a half-plus for the pressure applied to help create the turnover. Z will also get a non-touch assist for both that and for tying up with Souray in front. Filppula will pick up a bonus assist for the incredible walk job he pulls on Robidas. This strong play to the middle creates havoc in front and pulls Raycroft completely out of position to deal with the rebound.
Goal-Saved Plus: On a net-front scramble with a tipped rebound right in front of the net, Ian White dives across the face of the goal and stops a Jamie Benn shot from getting in. White earns stitches for his troubles and a goal-saved plus for his rating.
3rd Period 09:19 - Detroit Goal: Darren Helm (tip in) from Jiri Hudler
On the very next shift after the Stars very nearly pull even and Ian White takes a puck to the face, the Wings get an insurance marker. Helm and Abelkader bring it into the zone and Abby shoots a puck wide. Hudler picks it up at the half-boards, but loses it under three-man pressure. Tom Wandell gets a pass off the boards and tries to carry up through his own zone, but he's partially slowed by pressure from Helm. Wandell outskates that pressure, but is set up on by Jiri Hudler hounding him from the high slot all the way to the center red line when he eventually loses the puck for Helm to pick up. This turnover catches four Stars players on the wrong side of center and sends Helm and Hudler back into their zone against Nicklas Grossman. Hudler carries into the near-side circle while Helm crashes the back door. Hudler out-waits Grossman and gets a pass across the top of the crease onto Helm's stick for the easy tip-in. This is a great play by the two forwards. Both Helm and Hudler will earn a bonus plus for the pressure on Wandell to create the turnover and odd-man rush.
3rd Period 10:32 - Detroit Goal: Brad Stuart (slap shot) from Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula
Slightly over one minute later, the Wings get an offensive zone faceoff win with Filppula bringing it to Franzen, who passes it back to Stuart at the point before heading to the front of the net. Stuart winds up for a slap shot and blasts it through Raycroft, who is peeking around to the left of a Franzen screen while the puck beats him on the right side. Franzen will add a screener's assist on the play.
1st Period 00:55 - Mike Ribeiro (slashing): Ribeiro is a donkey idiot, but this isn't a drawn call.
3rd Period 07:08 - Adam Burish (cross checking): Burish punishes Stuart for a clean hit. While Abelkader got a plus for a similar clean hit against the Oilers, the game situation, and the fact that Adam Burish is a stupid AHL-level goon make up enough of a contextual difference to not award an adjustment.
3rd Period 19:46 - Jamie Benn (slashing & fighting) & Jakub Kindl (fighting): Benn is mad because his team is getting handled and takes it out on Kindl. It's a dick move, but not worth an adjustment.
-1 to Jonathan Ericsson: I wanted to like his play, but two absolutely horrible turnovers which led to odd-man rushes (one of which killed good offensive zone time) made that impossible.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: The Wings' captain was again their best defender on a solid night for the guys playing in front of Howard.
+0.5 to Jakub Kindl, Brad Stuart, Ian White, and Niklas Kronwall: Again, the whole team played well defensively. These four weren't as good as Lidstrom, but they were good. Each played strong in their own end.
+1 to Darren Helm, Jiri Hudler, and Justin Abdelkader: It's not just the one incredible shift this line had late in the first period, but this rating is half of that. Spending so much time in the offensive zone creating chances like that can echo throughout an entire game and these three kept the pressure on all night.
+0.5 to Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg: I thought these two were Detroit's best all-around forwards throughout the game.
The Cleary-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line continues to play well, but they need to do more. Emmerton and Eaves didn't really impress or disappoint.
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