The Red Wings locked up a playoff spot yesterday with a win over Nashville. Returning home to Detroit, they could do the same with the Central Division title by beating the Minnesota Wild. If you read the headline, you know that this indeed happened.
Darren Helm put the Red Wings on the board first with a toe-drag and shot through two Wild defenders and off the crossbar over Jose Theodore's glove side. Patrick Eaves carried the puck from behind the net and his pass hit off the skate of Maxim Noreau and onto the stick of Helm. Helm's goal was his 12th of the season and a career high for the young star.
With Jakub Kindl and Matt Cullen both in the box for a 4-on-4, Nicklas Lidstrom ripped a shot through a Pavel Datsyuk screen and past Theodore for his 16th of the season and a 2-0 Detroit lead.
Follow the jump for the rest of the game, analysis and video.
Brad Staubitz scored for Minnesota 4:32 into the 2nd period on a loose puck in the crease. It initially looked like Jimmy Howard had covered the puck up, but Helm may have freed the puck up and it eventually crossed the line. The refs let the play continue despite the puck being covered for a bit.
On the power play, Tomas Holmstrom scored a great goal with a Homeric deke around Brent Burns and putting a shot on net that beat Theodore. Holmstrom scored his 16th of the season and put the Red Wings up 3-1.
In the 3rd period, Johan Franzen scored on a play similar to Staubitz' goal. Franzen shot a puck from close range on Theodore and it seemed to just barely go over the line. Theodore was emphatic that the puck didn't cross, but with the ref right on top of the play he signaled goal. Surprisingly it wasn't reviewed.
Later in the period, Brad Stuart's shot from the blueline went past Theodore and into the net, but it was disallowed as the referee deemed that Justin Abdelkader had interfered with Theodore. Apparently, getting shoved into the net, getting up and out of the way before the shot is even taken is now interference.
The Wild would add a second goal late in the game as Carson McMillan got his first career goal off a rebound. Congratulations to the kid, scoring a goal in his first NHL game.
The Red Wings have some days off until playing the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Jimmy Howard won his 36th game of the season and is just one win shy of tying his total from last year.
:: ANALYSIS ::
- Good way to secure the Central Division title as the Wings played a pretty strong game from start to finish. They got lulled to sleep at times but were able to snap out of it each time with some solid play. It was good to see two solid games in a row after that embarrassing loss to the Blues. Let's just hope this type of play continues as the playoffs are closer and closer.
- It was excellent to see Pavel Datsyuk back on the ice. Datsyuk was close to deflecting Lidstrom's goal and had some great plays throughout. It may take him some time to get back to 100% but it was a good start for him
- Jakub Kindl played a pretty good game I thought. He only had 2 shots on goal, but I thought he had some nice plays in the offensive zone and he looks more and more mature by the game.
- Darren Helm had another great game (this is starting to be redundant): winning 70% of his face-offs, scoring a goal, and contributing 3:40 of ice-time on the PK. He had one particular rush in the second period where it looked like someone would have to kill him to take the puck from him.
- Drew Miller was another guy that quietly had a nice game. Miller had a few good break-ups, blocked three shots, and had three shots on goal in 11:01 of ice-time. Miller is probably one of the guys that will be sat at times throughout the playoffs in favor of Modano/Draper/Eaves but he plays his heart out when he's on the ice.
- Brian Rafalski, the 2010-2011 Helping Hand Award winner. What is the Helping Hand Award? It's an award I made up. It looks eerily similar to the Hamburger Helper mascot.
- Normally the slow whistle only plagues one team, strange to see it take a toll on both teams.
- Did you know? You can get whistled for goalie interference if you are shoved into the net, get up and get out of the way. Get it together, NHL.