Sometimes in hockey, the difference between success and failure is knowing when to get rid of the puck immediately and when to hold it for a split-second longer. The Wings struggled with that difference and it made what could have been a very good game into a very bad one.
Special teams cost the Wings the game as their power play continues to struggle without Zetterberg in the lineup. The Penguins managed to score on their first two power play chances and that would be all they would need.
I don't think Gustavsson was particularly bad, but I'd have liked for him to have stopped the last two goals.
1st Period 06:09 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson
The Wings get on the board first with a good puck retrieval followed by a bit of a lucky bounce on a shot from the point. After Crosby plays a blocked shot behind his own net, Datsyuk gains body position on Maatta to take it away. Alfie gets it and turns it up the boards from the corner, skating halfway up before going for Abdelkader in the middle. Abby is heavily covered, so he immediately pushes it to Kronwall at the blue line. Kronner takes a quick step to his right and releases a wrister that deflects off Crosby's stick, bounces off the ice, and beats Zatkoff. Abdelkader and Datsyuk will each earn a plus for work done on this shift to move, retrieve, and keep the puck in the zone. Alfredsson will get a half-plus.
1st Period 09:08 - Pittsburgh Goal (PP): Sidney Crosby (wrist shot) from Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin
The Penguins tie it up on a brutally efficient power play with a net-side goal. After an initial clear caused by the Penguins winning the faceoff TOO well, Pittsburgh gets it back in and zips the puck around the zone to test out the PKers and get them moving around. Finally it pays off for them as a shot from Crosby at the circle is blocked, but bounces to the slot where in an attempt to shoot it, Jokinen ends up bouncing it back out to Crosby following up his shot to the side of the net, where he puts it in. No adjustment on this goal. This is how a power play is supposed to work. The luck of a bounce helps too, but the only way I see the Wings preventing a goal is to put it off by taking a penalty.
1st Period 12:50 - Pittsburgh Goal (PP): Evgeni Malkin (wrist shot) from Jussi Jokinen
Another killer-instinct power play asks for good bounces and receives them as Malkin gets a pinball-bumper bounce to his stick for a goal. The Wings get a clear on their own power during this PK, but Pittsburgh comes back and establishes the zone, passing around to free up a bit of space for Malkin to try a simple pass to the net-front area to create trouble for the PKers, which works. Smith is able to clear the puck from the net-front scramble, but Malkin recovers and tries the exact same thing. This time, the puck deflects off Smith and to Jokinen standing on the goal line halfway between the net and boards. Jokinen tries to feet Kunitz on the back door, but has the puck deflect off Lashoff's foot and right out to Malkin coming into the middle. Gustavsson is to the far left edge of his crease after squaring to Kunitz and is unable to get back to stop the Malkin shot. Again, no adjustment. I have trouble faulting guys for "get a better bounce", which is the solution to what happens here.
2nd Period 19:13 - Pittsburgh Goal: Olli Maatta (tip in) from Christ Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin
After nearly an entire period of hemming the Penguins in, the Wings are the team that gives up a goal on a simple play and another bounce in the opposition's favor. Crosby picks up the puck at the half-boards in the Pittsburgh zone after Andersson can't control a cross-ice pass. Crosby gets it to Malkin at center and he's able to push into the Wings' zone to the top of the circle where he drops it for Kunitz entering late. Glendening challenges and Andersson back-checks, but Miller is watching Crosby come in through the middle. Nobody picks up Maatta on the opposite side wing except Kunitz, who saucers a pass to him. Smith goes from his net-front watch-post to challenge Maatta, but the space between them is large and he can't block the slapper from the top of the circle. The puck squeaks through Gustavsson and then bounces off Miller's foot and into the net. This is a case of the forwards screwing up more than the defense. Kronwall is caught against Malkin by a good pass and recovers well to prevent a direct opportunity then watch his man. Smith is doing his job as he should be until the second passes where he has to move out to cover somebody else's guy. Both have an effect on the play as the puck goes through their coverage responsibilities, but both Kronwall and Smith will have their minuses halved. The big problem is caused by the Kunitz pass, which is on Andersson and Miller (Andersson gets back last and Miller allows himself to get caught up with Crosby, taking him out of his lane). I'm going to give both Andersson and Miller a minus on this coverage. Glendening is playing the right position here, as he has to make sure Kunitz can't cut straight to the net from where he's at. I'm going to clear Glendening's minus. Finally, the play that happens up ice which ends in the Penguins getting possession to start this rush will earn Andersson a half-minus for a turnover. Glendening gets to a loose puck in the corner and is able to backhand saucer a centering pass, which Andersson isn't in position to shoot because he's playing a board-around play instead of going to the net. Smith is coming in to be able to pick up a board-around. Andersson should be driving the crease. The more-tentative lane is a wasted opportunity. Unacceptable.
3rd Period 14:33 - Pittsburgh Goal: Sidney Crosby (wrist shot) from Joe Vitale and Chris Conner
The Penguins get another insurance marker on a simple play to feed it to the middle for Crosby with enough room to fire it through the goalie. An attempted center in the offensive zone gets blocked and recovered by Pittsburgh, who turns it up ice. The Pens gain the zone when Conner bounces a puck off the boards to get around Ericsson and follows up with Vitale helping in the corner. Riggy tries to curl it past Conner, but it bounces off his skate to Vitale, who controls just long enough to throw a pass to the slot where Crosby skates into it and one-times it through Gustavsson. for the goal. Riggy will get a minus for a turnover. He's double-teamed here, but the turnover comes because he tries to do something fancy and fails. Kronwall will earn a minus as he lets himself coast too far towards the boards and loses his net-front responsibility. On the backcheck, Andersson is coming from the net-front all the way back, having switched responsibilities with Miller for the moment and Eaves is playing in his lane ready to get that Ericsson pass that doesn't work. Andersson and Eaves will be cleared. Miller doesn't recognize this and lets Crosby sneak past him, covering both ways a backchecking winger can screw up a coverage (previous goal by chasing too much and this one by not chasing enough). Miller will get a minus.
1st Period 02:37 - Chuck Kobasew (puck over glass): No adjustment.
1st Period 08:31 - Todd Bertuzzi (hooking): On a Penguins' scoring chance after a bit of scrambling in the zone, Bertuzzi earns a hook in the low circle by using one hand on the stick to prevent a Jokinen scoring opportunity from a sharp angle. Bert will get a minus, but this could have been a penalty on any number of players, including Ericsson, Nyquist, and Franzen, who will each get half-minuses for a bit of circus defense.
1st Period 11:39 - Niklas Kronwall (hooking): Kronwall gets beaten to the outside by Kobasew and responds by cheating. Minus for Kronwall.
1st Period 19:30 - Deryk Engelland (check to the head): Engelland and Abdelkader go for a loose puck with Abby outreaching Engelland. As soon as he realizes he's not going to get to the puck, Engelland instead turns his attention to delivering a check. The Penguins' D-man makes a very stupid decision in this instant and chooses to cut across the front of his man and pick Abdelkader's head, catching him squarely on the jaw with his shoulder and earning a match penalty. No adjustment here.
2nd Period 16:02 - Craig Adams (slashing): Thanks to a bit of good work by Alfredsson, Datsyuk escapes the boards with a shot at cutting to the middle, earning a slash from Adams which breaks his stick. This one is 50/50 on the two Wings' players, so Alfredsson and Datsyuk will each get a half-plus.
3rd Period 01:43 - Drew Miller (high-sticking): Sidney Crosby high-sticks Robert Bortuzzo in the Wings' zone and Miller takes the blame for it. No adjustment. Bad call.
3rd Period 02:19 - Evgeni Malkin (holding): This one's a makeup call for the bad high-sticking penalty, but Glendening and Andersson give the refs reason to make the call. I'm going to give a half-plus to each.
3rd Period 17:00 - Chris Kunitz (tripping): On a routine forecheck into the Wings' zone, Kunitz jams his stick into Kindl's feet, bringing him down. No adjustment here.
3rd Period 19:25 - Patrick Eaves (roughing): Late in the game, Eaves goes for a stupid roughing call. No reason for this. Minus for Eaves.
+1 to Tomas Tatar: By far the best-looking forward for the Wings in this game. Tatar kept the puck moving the right direction.
Brutal game for Miller in this one. I think he was in over his head.
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