Detroit and Toronto were 4 and 5 respectively in the Atlantic Division going into tonight, and they would have finished the night in that order regardless of the outcome of this game. With only two points separating the teams at the start, it's no surprise this game went to overtime (and a shootout).
Detroit outright dominated the first period despite giving up the first goal and skated into the intermission with a 3-1 lead on goals by Datsyuk, Andersson, and Jurco. They didn't maintain the same offensive presence, giving up zone time to the Maple Leafs before Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul tied the game. A dumb giveaway by Danny DeKeyser forced a scramble in Jonas Gustavsson's crease which allowed David Clarkson to stake Toronto to their first lead since leading 1-0. But with the line of Tomas Jurco-Riley Sheahan-Tomas Tatar, Jurco fired a puck on net from in front of the benches which Tatar deposited the rebound to tie the game at 4. Despite some chances to end it earlier, the game went to a shootout.
And finally, after 11 straight losses going back to last season and 6 going into tonight, Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk made sure the Red Wings would skate away with TWO POINTS after 65 minutes of hockey.
- The return of Danny DeKeyser certainly made an impact in this game for both teams. He was credited with an assist on Datsyuk's goal which tied the game at 1, giving him 9 points in his last 12 games.
- In the third, however, DeKeyser made the unfortunate drop pass decision as he was circling behind his own net. The turnover ended up in the back of the net, giving the Maple Leafs their second lead of the game. Overall, DeKeyser had about as good a game as you can ask for from a guy who just came back from a lengthy injury.
- The Road Wings' road record is now a polished 11-3-3. Hopefully the Calgary game was a sign of wins to come at home, but Detroit definitely can stay afloat in the Atlantic if they can continue their road success.
- I don't know what Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson are thinking (they probably aren't), but I wouldn't want to mess with Todd Bertuzzi if I were either man in blue.
- For those of us who have been lamenting the forwards on the point of Detroit's power play, the CBC broadcast gave a little (a little) bit of insight: All Red Wings defensemen are left-hand shots, and at that point in the game (it was before Phaneuf scored), the only right-shot for either team Cody Franson had a goal.
- Jonas Gustavsson won the game, but he otherwise had a very roller-coaster feeling of a game. He did manage this:
Save. Of. The. Year. pic.twitter.com/3LCFUZEqEa— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) December 22, 2013
He also had Joffrey Lupul's goal get behind him 7-hole as he went down to try to cover the post when Lupul crashed the net along the goal line. After a solid start to the season, Gustavsson's had a couple more forgettable starts in the last stretch of games while Jimmy Howard's been healing.
- On the bright side, the Red Wings did score four goals for him. Where is this offense coming from? Tatar had a goal, Jurco had a goal and an assist, Riley Sheahan had two assists (his first NHL points) and was a +3. If the Anaheim game was a preview of the perils of a hypothetical full-on rebuild, tonight's game shows some of the more positive aspects of growth and development of some of these younger guys we've been clamoring for for a while.
- Further solidifying the young guy's places on the team (at least while most everyone else is injured) is Mike Babcock throwing the line of Jurco-Sheahan-Tatar out to finish regulation. They almost ended the game before overtime when Tatar had a great chance, and the line spent a majority of its shifts in the Maple Leafs' zone. Just look at the top three Red Wings on this list for CF%.
- Finally, a note on the refereeing: I'm glad the Red Wings won this game because I really didn't want to talk about the referees too much. Calls were missed, and I wish there were remedies in place that would ensure garbage like Peter Holland trying more than once to knock his own net off to prevent a scoring chance gets out of the game. But because the Red Wings won, this is all I'm saying about it.
The Red Wings once again couldn't hold down a two-goal lead. The game once again went to overtime, making it 12 times this season in 38 games. They even gave up a go-ahead goal. In times past when the Red Wings took a 3-1 lead, more often than not, the Red Wings would escape the game with two points without much butt-clenching. Lately, a lot of (deserved) doom and gloom has pervaded, and the team's just seemed so fragile after the smallest thing goes wrong.
Tonight, they came back to tie the game; they snapped the shootout losing streak; and they ensured that we'd enjoy next week's 24/7 when we see this game again. Teammates will get healthy, and we can all look forward to having a Red Wings team closer to full health than they have been in the past month. Until then, it's back to work and trying to turn a two-game winning streak into a three-game winning streak on Monday against the Islanders.
RED WINGS WIIIIIIIIINNNNN!!!!