Raffi Torres shocked the hell out of all of us by actually doing something that was hockey-related that didn't end up with someone getting a concussion. His wraparound caught Jimmy Howard off-guard, no doubt worried that Torres was going to punch him in the head as he came around the net, and the Coyotes got the all-important first goal. Somehow the shots were 13-12 for the Coyotes after 1, although people leaving the arena after the game could only recall seeing 6 shots total.
The Wings came out in the second with some fire, and they began to take over the game. After a strong shift by the third line, the pressure continued, and Ian White's point shot found its way through a desert sea of bodies and past Mike Smith to tie the game at 1. The Wings continued to pour it on, and their persistence paid off when Todd Bertuzzi unleashed a rocket of a shot over Smith's shoulder, giving the Wings their first lead of the game. However, it was short-lived when Gilbert Brule pounced on a loose puck after a broken play in the neutral zone and slipped it under Howard.
After a slow third period where neither team scored, the two teams picked up their obligatory single point and headed to overtime. With that point, the Wings secured at least a 3-way tie atop the Western Conference and Central Division thanks to the Blues squeaking by a terrible Oilers team 1-0.
Unfortunately for us, we were subjected to the road Red Wings in overtime, not the home version, and they spent the first 4 minutes and 57 seconds pinned in their zone. The Wings killed off a terrible penalty call to Pavel Datsyuk, and almost won the game with no time left as Valtteri Filppula got a late chance. Smith stood tall and we went to a shootout.
In the shootout, none of the Coyote players even came close to scoring on Howard. Pavel Datsyuk was absolutely robbed by a gorgeous save by Smith, but he was unable to stop the spin-o-rama of Bertuzzi, and the Wings picked up 2 valuable points.
- Ian White is not going to cause anyone to completely forget Brian Rafalski, but he is turning out to be yet another steal by Ken Holland. His goal tonight gives him 6 on the season, 4 off his career-best set in 2008-09 when he played for Toronto(!). He may not put up the points that Rafi did, but he's been a dependable presence on the blue line with Lidstrom, and his right-handed shot came in pretty handy on the power play keeping pucks in the zone.
- Is it just me or Henrik Zetterberg looking better and better with each passing game? We're quick to point out that he might have been going through some injuries earlier this year, but over the past few games he seems to have turned it up a notch. He tied for the team lead tonight with 6 SOG, always a sign that he's going offensively. With the way that Datsyuk has been tearing it up recently, a healthy and potent Zetterberg will only make the Wings more dangerous and hard to stop.
- Remember when there were calls for the Wings to sign Keith Yandle? Yeah, this is why Ken Holland is a hell of a lot smarter than all of us.
- There must be a lot of dead puppies in the world right now, because Todd Bertuzzi is on a roll and it's got to be due to the sacrificing of the cute little critters. Tonight he showed that he can beat you in different ways: with that laser shot he scored on in the second period, or what should be his patented spin-o-rama in the shootout. He earned Player of the Game honours, and don't look now but he's got 6 goals in his last 10 games....I SAID DON'T LOOK!
- 3 Too Many Men on the Ice penalties for the Coyotes, and no goals for the Red Wings. Those are the kinds of opportunities you're not going to get very often, and the Wings failing to take advantage made this game a lot harder than it needed to be. On the upside, every time I heard the phrase "the Coyotes are changing" I fully expected the Wings to get another power play.
- The Wings are finally .500 on the road. Soak it in.
- I have no idea why, but watching Jimmy Howard in the shootout is like slipping under a warm blanket in front of a roaring fire to watch Sons of Anarchy (my new favourite show). I'm excited to see what happens but I am extremely comfortable that everything will be okay. Even if Brule had held on to the puck, I have no doubts that Howard would have stopped it.
- The post giveth, and the post taketh away. I can't recall a game where I saw the Wings hit 3 posts.
- I do have to give the team credit for looking somewhat energetic despite playing their 3rd game in 4 nights in 3 different cities. I'm told that the Wings are old, so to see them be able to get around without their walkers is a good sign heading into the stretch drive of the season.
Why, doth my eyes deceive me? Could it be that the Wings are in first place in the NHL? It's true, but let's face facts: being in first in January doesn't mean anything. I mean, only an idiot would gloat about being in first place with over 30 games still remaining in the season.
The Wings get to head home for 2 games against Central Division opponents before heading out for 5 straight on the road. Those road games will be sandwiched around the All-Star break, but unlike the players we'll be working that weekend.