The Red Wings headed back home after a disappointing result in Montreal on Tuesday and rebounded with what was about 50 minutes of abject frustration followed by complete elation as Detroit overcame a late two-goal deficit to tie the game and win it in overtime 4-3.
The refs generally let both teams play and I don't think one team got away with more stuff than the other. Both sides had three power play opportunities on which they failed (although Pittsburgh's power play was absolutely the more-dangerous one). Overall shots were 31-26 in favor of Detroit.
Both statistically and observationally, Jimmy Howard did not have a good game. Despite how poorly his team was playing in front of him most of the night, there were two goals he probably should not have allowed. The weird thing is that Thomas Greiss ended with a worse save percentage than Howard but probably looked better.
1st Period 05:12 - Pittsburgh Goal: Pascal Dupuis (snap shot) from Blake Comeau
The Wings give up the first goal of the game as a very good scoring opportunity turns ugly very quickly and the Penguins finish off a 2-on-1 rush with Dupuis chucking it over Howard's blocker. Tatar and Datsyuk create some magical chances, but things go south on a rebound from Greiss off a Tatar shot that Datsyuk picks up in the slot. Scuderi is in front, so Datsyuk holds onto the puck as he dangles a bit to Greiss' left before laying a drop pass to Kindl coming in at the hash marks. Kindl tries to collect it for a shot, but has it knocked away from him by Dupuis, who turns up ice and passes over to Comeau coming out of the zone to start a 2-on-1 with Smith. Smith assumes that either Helm or Kindl will be able to get back as he plays the angle on Comeau crossing the Wings' blue line. This proves faulty as Comeau gets the pass over to Dupuis who still easily has a step on both Helm and Kindl. Howard is square, but Dupuis' speed keeps him deeper in the crease than he would like and gives the space for the shot. Tatar will be the only minus cleared here as he's doing net-front duties when the play happens. I think Datsyuk needs to get a shot off or be more aware of how little time Kindl has. I'm not going to give Pavel extra blame, but he'll keep his minus. Kindl will pull an extra minus for the turnover. I feel an immediate shot attempt gets the puck moving in a safer direction and the attempt to collect it costs him. Helm will get an extra minus for not recognizing he should already be moving up ice to cover for Kindl when the Datsyuk pass happens. Finally, Smith will get an extra minus for misplaying the odd-man. He's the only skater who can see this play and he has to recognize that Dupuis is not going to be caught. He should be playing this like a true 2-on-1 and the move against Comeau is the wrong move.
1st Period 11:05 - Pittsburgh Goal: Olli Maatta (backhand) from Blake Comeau and Evgeni Malkin
The Wings give up another one with bad in-zone coverage as the top line gets embarrassed. Zetterberg loses an offensive zone faceoff and the Penguins start their cycle. This play takes a while to develop, but does so when Comeau finds Matta skating up the middle with a bit of space for a great shot that Howard kicks off to the corner. Maatta follows up and dekes out Datsyuk to get a lane to the near post. Dupuis sees this developing and cuts a line right in front of him to keep Quincey from being able to stop Maatta. The Penguins' D-man lifts the puck slightly as he enters the crease to cut across and Howard doesn't squeeze down on it hard enough. The puck trickles through into the net. I don't like Howard allowing this, but I'm not going to clear any minuses on what was a long shift in the Wings' zone characterized by a lot of chasing. The only "big" mistake here belongs to Datsyuk, who is going to pull two extra minuses. He's lucky that Howard stopped the first Maatta shot after letting him get open and then he makes another big mistake in completely misplaying Maatta in the corner. I'm not going to give Quincey extra punishment (because of how softly Howard lets it through), but I feel this would have been an opportunity for ol' Kyle to take a "good penalty" by destroying Dupuis at the net-front and taking out both him and Maatta.
1st Period 15:00 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Darren Helm
The Wings cut the lead in half as Darren Helm makes one good play to get a pass over to Kronwall who makes a nifty move to get on his forehand for a screened goal. After a long shift, the Wings get it out on what could be a 2-on-1 except Helm has it poked off his stick. Dupuis tries dumping it in only to have it knocked back by Kronwall at the blue line. The puck goes behind Dupuis for Helm to pick it up and enter the zone with plenty of space. Despres coming off the bench forces Helm to turn back near the half-boards, so he circles around and waits for his backup to arrive. Glendening, Miller, and Ericsson all arrive, going to the net-front, across the slot, and directly under Helm to the half-board as he approaches the point. Kronwall arrives to take a pass just before Despres forces him out of the zone. Kronner takes the puck and makes a move on Hornqvist above the slot to get around him and make space. This pays off as he snaps a forehand from just at the top of the left faceoff circle which Greiss never sees through a Glendening screen. I'm going to give Helm a half-plus for the great patience on the zone entry and Kronwall a half-plus for the excellent play to cancel the dump-in which led to the entry.
2nd Period 08:29 - Pittsburgh Goal: Chris Kunitz (wrist shot) from Simon Despres
Pittsburgh re-establishes the two-goal lead on a line change by Detroit that busts Kunitz in on the far side of the ice with plenty of space to walk it in and fire it home. The 4th line finishes a shift as Kronwall gets a loose puck at center and chucks it up toward Glendening at center. Luke can't control it off the skate and it bounces to Despres at the top of the Pens' zone while all three forwards go to change (Miller recognizes the danger and stays on). Despres quickly turns it up ice to Kunitz on the far wall joined by Hornqvist to his interior and with Crosby on the far wing. The speed of the turn combined with the three-forwards up top forces Ericsson and Kronwall to back off. Riggy watches Hornqvist as he pushes the center lane while Kunitz slows down in the zone and becomes the trailer. Kronwall passes Crosby off to Sheahan, but is in no position to get to the opposite side of the ice as Kunitz enters the top of the right circle on the interior lane and fires the shot between the pad and glove on Howard's left. This is all-in-all kind of a nothing play that turned into a goal because of bad decision-making by the defense. Kronwall and Glendening will each get a half-minus for a bad turnover to Despres which was completely unnecessary. I'm going to clear Sheahan, Nestrasil, and Miller, who are all victimized by bad decisions. Ericsson and Kronwall both need to read this zone entry better. Riggy needs to attack Kunitz coming into the zone while Kronwall moves to the middle to watch Hornqvist. The amount that Crosby has to slow to stay onsides gives Sheahan plenty of time to pick him up for the coverage. Ericsson and Kronwall will each pick up an extra minus for playing this (badly) like a 3-on-2 rush when it really isn't.
3rd Period 17:21 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (wrist shot) from Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall
With Howard pulled the Wings sneak Z into the middle of the Penguins' zone on a great feed by DeKeyser. Hank thanks DK by sniping it top shelf to pull within one. The play starts on an offensive zone faceoff with Howard already sitting. The Penguins get a weak clear, but Kronwall keeps possession as he backs to his own blue line to reset the play. Kronner goes across his own blue line to DeKeyser, who takes a few steps forward before Spaling steps up at the center ice line to pressure him. DeKeyser throws a bullet pass that beats the outstretched stick of a backchecking Steve Downie and catches Brandon Sutter with his back to Zetterberg and his feet still. With Letang and Maatta watching Helm and Abdelkader wide on both Wings, Sutter blowing the coverage on Zetterberg entering the zone gives Hank the space to walk the puck into the slot and snipe it over the glove to start the comeback. This is a wonderful pass by DeKeyser, who will get a bonus plus.
3rd Period 19:21 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
The Penguins fail to score with possession in the Wings' zone and Howard pulled and that bites them moments later as Datsyuk pulls Greiss out of his net before feeding it back to Kronwall for the game-tying goal with just 39 seconds left. Helm blocks a Dupuis shot that Datsyuk picks up to head the other way. Helm and Dupuis run into each other at the blue line, opening a lane for Datsyuk to pass to Abdelkader to enter the zone with a pass to Zetterberg on the left wing. Abby drags Letang to the near-side of the net while Maatta tracks Hank to the corner. This opens up the front of the net for a perfect pass from Hank to Datsyuk, who has Comeau behind him in no position to make a play. Greiss tracks Datsyuk all the way across to the far post before Pavel does the same pass-back play that bit them on the first goal. This time it finds Kronwall walking into the slot. Kronner has enough time to get off a wrister before Malkin gets to him. The puck deflects in off Dupuis' shin and the game is tied. First off, I'm going to give Helm back the plus that Nyquist gets for stepping on for him behind the play. I'm also going to give Helm a bonus plus for the shot block on Dupuis that leads the play up ice. DeKeyser blocks a surefire Blake Comeau empty-netter, but it's off his turnover that Comeau gets that chance. Amazing passes by Zetterberg and Datsyuk get bonus pluses for the beautiful work to create space while Abdelkader's bonus plus also comes from creating space as he pulls Letang completely away from his coverage area.
Overtime 04:16 - Detroit Goal: Justin Abdelkader (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg
Detroit completes the comeback with a last-minute overtime goal from Justin Abdelkader as he finds the puck out front and puts it home. Crosby beats out an icing to start this play off as he attempts an immediate pass to the front of the net which is kicked to the side boards by a backchecking Abdelkader who turns and heads up ice with it. Zetterberg hangs out at the blue line to force the defense to back off and get the Wings in with numbers. Abby enters the zone and feeds Smith joining on the left wing for a slapper that Greiss blocks off to the corner. Zetterberg steps up on it as Ehrhoff realizes he can't stop Hank from getting around to pressure Maatta picking up the puck behind the net. As Maatta tries a quick outlet, he's just a hair too slow trying to bounce it up the boards. Instead, the reaching stick of Henrik Zetterberg slows the puck and deflects it directly into the slot where Abdelkader is circling. He recognizes the loose puck before Patric Hornqvist and immediately fires it top corner for the winner. This play will earn bonus pluses for Abdelkader and Zetterberg, who each make a crucial play in taking the puck from the Penguins.
1st Period 07:26 - Jakub Kindl (hooking) against Nick Spaling: Kindl lets Spaling get behind him and allows a partial breakaway which he ends with a bit of a hook on Spaling. Not exactly a very strong call, but it's earned thanks to it being Kindl's fault that Spaling got such a good scoring chance. Minus for Kindl.
2nd Period 03:10 - Marcel Goc (hooking) against Tomas Jurco: The Wings get their first powerplay of the game on some good pressure deep in the zone culminating in a Goc hook. This is the culmination of a great shift by Sheahan and Nestrasil, who will each get a plus for creating the penalty. Jurco makes a strong aggressive move which panics Goc and will also earn Jurco a plus.
2nd Period 15:38 - Blake Comeau (holding) against Kyle Quincey: Comeau uses a free hand to slow Quincey down chasing a loose puck into the corner. This isn't a drawn call and I wonder if it even gets made if it's not a two-goal game. No adjustment.
2nd Period 18:33 - Niklas Kronwall (interference) against Sidney Crosby: Kronwall loses the puck to Crosby in his own zone and then takes a step to impede his man. Textbook interference. Minus for Kronwall.
3rd Period 00:57 - Sidney Crosby (intererence) against Henrik Zetterberg: Hank throws a stop-up back-check on Kunitz along the Red Wings' bench. Crosby takes exception and knocks Zetterberg over, taking a penalty. Zetterberg will get a plus.
3rd Period 00:57 - Chris Kunitz and Justin Abdelkader (roughing): More rough-stuff during the same play where Hank draws the call. No adjustment on the even-up.
3rd Period 07:08 - Jakub Kindl (slashing): Off an icing faceoff, Kindl not only can't keep the puck in, but he lets Malkin threaten to get behind him. Kindl slashes Malkin's stick out of his hands and goes tot he box. Minus for Kindl.
3rd Period 08:48 - Steve Downie and Jonathan Ericsson (sword-fighting): Downie is being a jerk and Ericsson gets tired of it so they hit each other for a bit until the ref tells them to sit down. No adjustment.
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Pavel Datsyuk had a worse game by the stats than he did by the eyeball test, but he wasn't too good by the eyeball test either. His legs just aren't there yet and he's not nearly as good at playing a winger's defensive responsibilities. The overall pace numbers by the teams show that the game was in the neutral zone a lot and there wasn't a ton of room to operate in the middle outside of the numerous defensive breakdowns that led to actual goals.
The line blender got used pretty early in the day and that really seemed to help Zetterberg and Nyquist, but the Tatar/Datsyuk pairing on a line with Helm didn't quite work. The puck skills were evident, but the hands were working more than the feet and that caused problems. On the defensive side, it took until the third period for Babcock to shake up the pairings but when he did, it worked out pretty well.
Off ZS %
I didn't realize that neither Nestrasil nor Jurco were out there for a single 5-on-5 draw. The defensive assignments and offensive sheltering went as expected.
For line matchups, Sidney Crosby did spend more time out there against Glendening than any other center at even strength and he beat Glendening handily in possession, but he was held off the scoresheet. Malkin's line also handled Datsyuk's line pretty handily, but they weren't as noticeable after the first. On the other side, Zetterberg ate Sutter alive and Sheahan beat out Goc despite his line looking quiet.
The Wings didn't have much business winning this game and I don't care. Danny DeKeyser is a legitimate passer in this league. Ericsson is really struggling. Quincey looks good. Kindl looked like shit. I absolutely miss Johan Franzen. Nestrasil is good at drawing penalties, but doesn't have finishing hands at this level it seems. I was hoping last year's Helm was this year's Helm as far as finishing chances, but no.
Also, this power play has got to learn to be crisper with passes, faster with zone entries, and tougher at the front of the net with keeping their sticks in good position.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca