Detroit came into Nashville on Saturday with their butts still stinging from a 10-3 whooping at the heels of the mighty St. Louis Blues. Looking to redeem themselves in the eyes of each other and the fans, the Red Wings wanted to prove they can beat a playoff-caliber team and play solid hockey. Despite some mental errors, bad breaks, tough calls, and a 3-0 deficit, Detroit accomplished their goal when Dan Cleary tipped an overtime game-winner past Pekka Rinne to give the Red Wings a 4-3 victory.
The Red Wings took three of the automatic delay-of-game penalties for putting the puck over the glass from inside their own zone in this game. Two of those came while they were already shorthanded. Ultimately, they gave the predators 8 power play opportunities and two goals because of it. On the other side, the Wings benefited from three power play chances and were kept off the scoreboard with the man advantage for the first time in 8 games. I'm not happy with the reffing standard, but I'd rather focus on the Red Wings overcoming that and their own mistakes which led to the good calls to win the game while outshooting Nashville 41-34.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment (x4): Halfway through the first, Detroit gets the first power play of a period they're dominating to this point as Cleary and Suter battle in the corner and Suter takes a hooking penalty. I'm not going to make an adjustment here because Cleary actually grabs Suter's stick before this one is called. The next penalty comes to Jakub Kindl for interfering with Patric Hornqvist coming out of the Nashville zone at 13:46. I appreciate how difficult Hornqvist is to knock down in front of his opponent's net and how easy he is to knock down everywhere else. Still, Kindl will get a minus. There's no need to make contact there. The next call comes on Shea Weber 32 seconds later as Patrick Eaves tips a Sergei Kostitsyn pass in the zone past Ryan Suter and heads to the races with Helm for a shorthanded chance. After the shot goes wide, Helm holds his ground around the net and Weber cross-checks him in the back of the head. Eaves will get a plus for starting this play off and Helm will get a half-plus for joining here. The last penalty to get adjusted before we get to the goals which counted comes on Holmstrom two seconds before the Weber call expires. Lidstrom fires a slap shot through a Holmstrom screen at the top of the crease and into the net, but referee Ian Walsh decides that Holmstrom interfered with Rinne badly enough to waive off the goal and give Holmstrom a two-minute minor for it. I've seen this a dozen times on replay and I still hate it, but based on the history of call-backs, Holmstrom needs to know better. He's not in the crease and he doesn't initiate the contact, but he's too close based on the recent history. Homer will get a minus for this and I'll leave my statement at "What's Rinne doing with his blocker extended into the back of Holmstrom's helmet on this play?"
1st Period 19:00 - Nashville Goal (PP): Ryan Suter (slap shot) from Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist
The Predators get this 5-on-3 goal thanks to a boarding penalty on Abdelkader for laying a clean hit on Erat while Homer was still in the box and then by being the recipient of a PK-inexperienced Holmstrom clearing the puck over the glass. Holmstrom will get another minus here but I'll have loud and angry words with anybody who tries to pull the technicality of boarding out of his ass on the Abdelkader penalty. If anybody can show me of a time when a player has ever gotten a boarding call for a hit like this, I'll reconsider. I will not give a minus to a player making a hit that I want to see him make ten out of ten times. At any rate, on the two-man advantage, the Predators recover from losing the in-zone faceoff and the resulting clear to bring it back in. Suter dumps in behind the net for Hornqvist to push further to Fisher at the opposite-end half-board. Fisher goes to Suter in the middle before the Predators' D-Man skates around the slot to make room for a slap shot through a Hornqvist screen in front of Howard. No adjustment.
2nd Period 1:42 - Nashville Goal (PP): Martin Erat (tip in) from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter
Starting the 2nd period, the Wings still had 34 seconds on the Holmstrom penalty to kill. Unfortunately, only 16 seconds into the tilt, Brad Stuart puts one over the glass to put the Wings down by 2 men again. Stuart will get a minus for this. After killing off the first, the Wings go to work on the second, but can't get the job done. The Preds gain the zone with about a minute left in the penalty. Here, Filppula gets to a cross-ice dump first, but in trying to turn to clear it on the forehand instead of going off the boards immediately with the backhand, he loses the initiative and the Predators take it for a keep-in. Suter fires a one-time from the middle of the point over the net, but Erat, Legwand, and Ward team up at the half-boards to prevent Ericsson and Filppula from clearing the zone. The puck comes back to Legwand at the point to go across to Weber at the far point. Weber throws a quick pass down to Erat standing all alone at the back door for a redirect under Howard's pad as he moves side-to-side. Filppula will earn a minus on this play for his failure to clear the zone when he had the chance. Ericsson will also get a minus for once again drifting too far up in his own zone on a penalty kill and leaving a man completely uncovered near his own net.
2nd Period 2:37 - Nashville Goal: Sergei Kostitsyn (slap shot) from Mike Fisher and Matt Halischuk
Less than a minute later, Nasvhille capitalizes on the momentum as Halischuk picks up a loose puck at his own blue line and comes through the zone, passing to Fisher as he crosses the blue line. Fisher shoots it wide where the puck bounces off the boards and straight out front to Kostitsyn. The ugly Kostitsyn brother fires it past Howard before the Wings' goalie can get back in position to stop it. On the replay, Bertuzzi picked up Halischuk coming across the zone until he handed off responsibility to Franzen on the other side of the ice. The big mistake in coverage is Rafalski's. As Fisher comes in the zone, Kindl has him, but Raffi comes over on him before he fires the shot wide. This leaves Kostitsyn completely alone coming in on the wing. Rafalski will get an extra minus. I'm going to count this as a half-bad goal on Howard though, as the Fisher shot is to the same side of the net as the Kostitsyn follow-up. Howard is square to the first shot, but he short-stops himself squaring to Kostitsyn and doesn't get set. Franzen and Filppula will be cleared of their minuses. Flip had just come on for Zetterberg and Franzen was covering the far point. I'd like to see either Bert or Kindl do something to prevent this, but they're both doing their jobs. I'm going to halve the minuses for both Bertuzzi and Kindl.
2nd Period 3:28 - Detroit Goal: Jakub Kindl (snap shot) unassisted
Less than a minute after falling behind 3-0, Detroit answers. Helm wins a defensive zone faceoff and Kindl whips it around the boards. It gets past everybody on it's way to Rinne behind the Nashville net. Rinne goes to Blum to start up ice the other way, but the pressure from Eaves and Draper forces a bad pass attempt from Blum which misses Geoffrion and goes to Kindl at the top of the zone, who has stepped in front of Dumont. Kindl wastes no time in throwing a snap shot on net while Rinne is busy trying to swat at the biplanes that are bothering him. The puck gets through Pekka Kong to start the comeback. Eaves is going to pick up a half-assist and half-plus for his forechecking work. Draper will get a full assist and full plus for finishing the forecheck to force the turnover. Kindl will also pick up a bonus plus for hustling to beat out Dumont.
2nd Period 4:49 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (tip in) from Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom
Building off the momentum from the Kindl goal, the Wings get another one, as Lidstrom recognizes a Nashville change and threads a brilliant two-line pass to get the Wings into the zone with numbers. Holmstrom tries to hit Modano going low, but the puck ends up in the corner behind Rinne's left side. Holmstrom, Modano, and Abdelkader all battle low to create a cycle which terminates when Holmstrom brings it up the boards dragging Jerred Smithson with him. Homer runs out of room and passes off to Stuart at the top of the zone where he throws a soft one-timer toward the net under pressure from Halischuk.. Abdelkader is standing in front and tips it over Rinne's pad for the goal. Lidstrom's pass to help the Wings gain the zone with momentum will earn the Red Wings' captain a half-assist. Modano will also get a half-assist for his work on the cycle down low.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): 9:49 into the 2nd period, Jerred Smithson lays on top of Draper after a faceoff and gives him a couple of shots to the back of the head. Draper gets up without a helmet, cut, bleeding, and angry enough to give Smithson a chop to the legs which earns him a trip to the box. yes, the refs should have given Smithson a penalty, but that does not give Draper a pass. He spent a good deal of his career on a line with a guy who made a living getting guys called for retaliation on things the refs didn't see. Draper gets a minus for losing his cool. Later in the power play, Erat goes to the box for slew-footing Howard in his own crease to end the power play and even things up. There's no adjustment on the trip, I just want Erat out of the league for these cheap antics.
3rd Period 3:59 - Detroit goal: Justin Abdelkader (wrist shot) from Todd Bertuzzi and Brian Rafalski
Justin Abdelkader wins an offensive zone faceoff that Franzen takes and delivers to Rafalski at the point. Raffi dumps low into the zone where Bertuzzi picks it up behind the net and comes out front wide. Bert lets Ryan Suter chase him up the half-boards before doing a half-spin and throwing a quick pass in front that Abdelkader puts over Rinne as he moves to adjust. Abdelkader will get a half-assist for the faceoff win that leads right to this. I'm also going to give Abby a bonus half-plus for shaking Smithson in front. While Bertuzzi is dragging Suter up the zone, Abdelkader fakes skating toward the blue line before immediately turning and getting behind the man who had bitten hard on this fake to get to the Bertuzzi pass. Franzen will also get an assist. Not only does he touch the puck to get it to Rafalski (which wouldn't be enough in itself), but he also drags Shea Weber to the corner to clear the front of the net for Abdelkader's run.
Penalty Adjustment (x2): Ruslan Salei takes the only two penalties of the third period. The first one comes 13:19 into the period, as he cross-checks Nick Spaling from behind, knocking him into the boards. The Wings kill this one off and Salei gets a break until his very next shift, when he dumps the puck over the glass under pressure for the third Wings' delay-of-game penalty for the same infraction. The cross-check on Spaling is such a terrible and dangerous decision. Salei needs to ride him into the boards, not smash him. I'm very disappointed he did this. The puck over the glass is just failure to control the puck. Salei will get two minuses.
Overtime 2:58 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (tip in) from Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg
In overtime, the Wings get an offensive zone faceoff as Rafalski makes an excellent play to keep a puck in the Predators' zone and set up a Cleary shot which Rinne freezes. Zetterberg wins the faceoff back to Raffi at the point. Rafalski moves slightly to the inside to create a shooting angle and simply throws a wrist shot at Cleary, who has gone straight to the front of the net off the faceoff. Cleary makes sure that he's not sitting on top of Rinne as he tips the puck past the Nashville netminder for the game-winner. Rafalski garners the only adjustment here and it's for the play before the faceoff. The keep-in and pass to Cleary was a great move and will earn Rafalski a plus.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: Between elegantly breaking up a play that would have set up a half-ice odd-man chance and choosing to eat a puck and absorb a hit in the 2nd period to allow his teammates to get in better position to handle Nashville's forechecking pressure, it was a huge relief to see Lidstrom have such a positive bounce-back game. (also he played just shy of 26:30. A hint of what's to come in the playoffs?)
+1 to Darren Helm: Already having taken into consideration his part in the drawn first period penalty, Helm deserved a bonus plus here for how he continuously pushed the pace and forechecked aggressively.
+1.5 to Justin Abdelkader: Abby was the single-most important non-goalie on the ice for the Wings. He helped make room in the zone for his teammates several times before playing his net-front role perfectly. He had a forecheck on Ryan Suter in the third period that was so good, it made me drool a little.
-1 to Johan Franzen: The Predators did a pretty good job of defending a few of the lines, but unlike his mates-at-times, Franzen didn't bring a lot in other areas of the ice to make up for being shut down. He played for 18:29 and I can't say anything good about him.
+0.5 to Jiri Hudler: In the 2nd period, Hudler had a backcheck to lift Legwand's stick on what would have been a wide-open goal. This was not long after fighting to create a takeaway. However, outside of that one shift, I didn't feel Hudler was very good so I'm adjusting what would be a full plus down by a half.
Honorable Mentions: Todd Bertuzzi had two fights with Shane O'Brien. I felt the first one was in very good response to some liberties O'Brien had taken with Abdelkader on the previous shift; unfortunately, I felt the second one didn't accomplish much and killed what looked to be a good rush starting, so I canceled those out for no adjustments. Jonathan Ericsson had a good first period (as did most of the Wings), but I thought he faded late. He didn't have anything so egregious as to having it credited as his fault alone, but I thought his good and his bad balanced out. On a final note, Mike Modano played fewer than 10 minutes in this game after saying that he tweaked his groin against St. Louis. I hope he's ready to go for the postseason.