it's ok to admit it. I was thinking the exact same thing. Despite dominating the Capitals over the course of 59+ minutes, the Red Wings somehow gave up a goal with 7 seconds left and headed to OT for the 34th time this season. Given how this year has gone, it was pretty obvious that the Wings were doomed.
However, the Wings had an unsung hero in Patrick Eaves finally solve Michael Neuvirth, and Jimmy Howard was perfect in the shootout as the Wings were able to get the very valuable second point in a 4-3 shootout win.
I don't normally play the "who deserved what" game, because I understand that a number of things can happen within a single game that can affect the result. But there's no question in my mind that the Wings deserved to win this game tonight. As per Red Wing policy they didn't make it easy on themselves, but at the end of the day the Wings earned 2 points in their bid to somehow get to the Olympic break without being too far behind while a third of the team is injured.
- The Wings spent the first several minutes of the game hemmed in their own zone as the Capitals put on a ton of pressure early. You would think that at this point in the season the Wings would be used to starting games early as part of the Eastern Conference.
- As the game progressed and the Wings started to get their legs under them, I still couldn't help yelling out "dammit Cleary what the hell are you doing?!?!" before remembering he was a healthy scratch. Old habits die hard I guess.
- Early in the first period we got a wonderful preview of the 5th place game in the Olympics as Jimmy Howard made a gorgeous save on Alex Ovechkin.
- If ever there was a game where Howard's numbers don't reflect how well he played, it was tonight. In the first period he only made 4 saves and allowed 1 goal, yet 2 of those saves were absolute glorious scoring chances that he prevented, and the first goal was one that he had absolutely zero chance of saving. And yet, despite how well he played overall, I can guarantee there is someone somewhere absolutely certain that Jonas Gustavsson would have made saves on the first 2 Capital goals. On the final Caps' PP, he was amazing, making 4 big saves to preserve the lead late in the third period.
- At one point tonight Mickey Redmond said "if you want to go up the middle you have to go fast and hard, not soft and lazy". I have no comment for this.
- I would be remiss if I didn't point out what a game Michael Neuvirth had. I know the Caps played last night, but without Neuvirth, this game is over in the first period and it's not even close. Kudos to him on a fantastic performance.
- Apparently all that it took to get Gustav Nyquist back on the scoresheet was getting Henrik Zetterberg back.
- I really dug the Danny DeKeyser/Kyle Quincey pairing tonight. Quincey has had his struggles this year, but having a partner in DD allows Quincey to play a little looser because DD is smart enough to cover up for ill-timed pinches and blown coverages. Scoring goals certainly makes that pairing look good. Keep doing that, guys.
- I'm a huge proponent of more youth in the lineup, and have been banging that drum for a long time. However, the downside of having a young lineup is the lack of a killer instinct to put a team away. It's something that needs to be learned, and usually isn't inherent in a player new to the NHL, so getting used to seeing the Wings blow late 3rd period leads is something most Wing fans should be ready for in the future.
- The flip side to that is this: if the Wings are going to blow third period leads like they did tonight, I'd much rather it happen with youth in the lineup because there's the potential for learning from the mistakes and getting better. Imagine if it Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson were on the ice when that tying goal was scored.
- According to FSD, the Capitals were 6-3 in the shootout before tonight while the Wings were 3-8. So of course Howard was perfect through 7 rounds while the top offensive talent on the Wings were unable to solve Neuvirth before Eaves was able to score. It almost makes me wish Bertuzzi was in the lineup, except there never should have been a shootout because the Wings were winning with less than 10 seconds left.
- Wings win, it's Friday night, go party.