Jimmy Howard's reaction said it all.
Bobby Ryan scored on a penalty shot in overtime on Howard to give the Ducks a 2-1 victory. The win came after a game in which the Wings had 9 power plays but managed only 1 goal. After the goal, Howard swung his stick and broke it on the post, clearly angry at the result of a game in which he was very good.
The first period was a penalty-filled affair, with 6 calls made overall. The Wings were given 4 power plays (although one was only 3 seconds), and got exactly zero shots on goal. The biggest missed opportunity was a 90 second 5-on-3 that resulted in one post being hit by Jiri Hudler and little else. The second period was more of the first, only this time the Wings converted on a power play when Pavel Datsyuk gave Dan Ellis the problem of not getting a shutout by banking a puck off his pads from behind the net.
In the third, the Ducks came out with some fire, determined to end a 19 game winless streak when trailing after 2 periods. Jason Blake got the Ducks to even when he ripped a slapshot past Jimmy Howard, who was screened on the play by Ruslan Salei.The Wings had 3 power plays in the third period, including one with 3 and a half minutes to go in the game. After failing to convert on any of them, the Wings were handed a glorious opportunity to win the game when the Ducks were caught with too many men on the ice heading into the overtime period. Unfortunately, once again there was too much passing and not enough shooting, and that set the stage for Ryan's game winner.
This was not a pretty game, and it did not have the desired result. Follow the jump for the highlights and analysis.
Outside of the 457 instances of the word "damn" in the game thread (specifically the second period), there was little to get excited about with this game. Let's get to the bullets.
- Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. I feel so bad for you, kid. You played your ass off tonight, and that save on Corey Perry was a thing of absolute beauty. After having your stats ruined the other night against the Kings with those 3 late goals, you came in to the game tonight and stood on your head. You gave the Wings every opportunity to win the game, and I don't blame you for that loss. Your display of anger after the game was warranted, and I hope it was aimed at your teammates as much as it was against the referees for the call (more on that in a second). Hey, at least the save percentage and GAA both went in the right direction after tonight, right? Right?
- The power play. I think the best word I can think of to describe it was "uninspired". There was no desire to get the puck to the net, the pressure in front was minimal and there was far too little shoot and too much cute passing. The most frustrating part of the man advantage tonight was the fact they could barely gain entry to the zone. Sometimes the Wings look like they are trying to be too fancy when they should just dump the puck in and get to the front of the net. Ugly goals count the same as pretty ones.
- A hearty congratulations to Johan Franzen and his wife on the birth of their son Eddie Bo Johan. As a proud parent myself of 2 beautiful little girls, I can only imagine the pride and joy the Mule is feeling right now. I also know that having your wife that close to delivery can take your concentration away from whatever else is going on in your life. I think now that his son has been born and everyone is healthy, he can get his mind focused back on hockey and helping to lead this team to the Cup.
- The refs. Oy. Look, I'm not about to sit here and complain about the penalty shot call, because the refereeing as a whole was absolutely atrocious tonight. If I were a Ducks fan, I'd be plenty mad about a lot of the calls that were made against them, and I'd be crowing about how the team ended up with the right result as a giant FU to the refs. I almost feel a little bad for Ducks fans, but then realized two things: no one is going to feel bad for a Wings fan when they get 9 penalties called against them, and the Ducks won the game. Good for them. I really would have liked to see the refs just let them play and not call everything, because it ruined the flow of what potentially could have been a good game. As for the penalty shot? Total dive (I'm loving the "Greg Louganis" comparisons on Twitter), but the right call. Like it or not, the rules on penalty shots clearly state that if a player is denied a reasonable chance to score while on a clear breakaway, a penalty shot is awarded. Did Ryan embellish the call? You're damn right he did; I haven't seen a dive that blatant since the World Cup ended. But Salei got him on the hands and prevented Ryan from getting a decent shot off, and it's the right call. You can scream and cry and stomp your feet and hold your breath, but it was the right call.
Outside of Jimmy Howard (your Player of the Game), there wasn't a Red Wing player who had a real inspired game tonight. Pavel Datsyuk was his usual dangerous self through most of the game, and I was very pleased to see Justin Abdelkader have some jump in his skating tonight. Perhaps being told he was almost a healthy scratch was enough to light a fire under Abby, and he's clearly at his most effective when he plays with a bit of an edge. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Corey Perry was virtually invisible all night, as the only time he really had an impact was when he was stoned by Jimmy in the third period. But let's face facts: when you have 9 power plays, including a 90 second 5-on-3 and 1:47 of 4-on-3 in overtime and only get 6 shots over the course of those 9 power plays, you're likely going to lose the game. I wasn't happy about Ryan's flopping to get the penalty shot either, but the game should have been over long before that.
With the Wings 6 game road winning streak now in the books, they head up the coast for a date with the Sharks, a team that has beaten then two out of three times this year including a couple of weeks ago. It's another late start for the Wings, but thankfully this is the last one of those for the regular season.