The Wings came back after a two day hiatus to meet the Maple Leafs at home, Toronto having played the night before against Calgary at the ACC. They responded by taking Toronto to the woodshed in every way except the actual important way. Chance after chance either missed or was stopped by the great play of James Reimer and in the end, it was once again the shootout that did them in in a 2-1 loss.
The first jaw-dropping chance for either team came about four minutes in as Sheahan got a bit of speed on a nice outlet pass from Franzen which allowed him to dipsy-doodle around his defender and get a backhanded shot. I really like this line. About a minute later, Datsyuk chucks one in front for Helm for another good chance.
The Wings controlled play for about another ten minutes before we got another jaw-dropping chance, this time it was Datsyuk on a partial breakaway to catch the Leafs in a bad change. He had Reimer praying, but missed high to the glove side.
15:49 in, the Wings get a short power play as another good trip through the neutral zone creates a shot attempt. As Jurco tries to tip it, Phaneuf simply takes him down instead of playing defense. Unfortunately, the PP only lasts 41 seconds before a defensive breakdown on a pinch up the wall leads to Daniel Winnik getting behind the PP unit leading to a scoring chance and a slashing penalty to Tatar.
The Period ends scoreless with Detroit leading shots 12-7 and with the puck in Detroit's net as Tyler Bozak holds it until the horn blows and then throws a beautiful centering pass onto the stick of James van Riemsdyk for what doesn't count as a goal.
The Wings start the second where they left off and get two odd-man rushes in the first 90 seconds, failing to score on a 2-on-1 for Nyquist/Sheahan and then a breakaway for Tatar.
Sheahan walks the defense for the second time, stepping cleanly around Gardiner to get yet another scoring chance. Reimer again comes up big and I'm starting to dread the impending doom of a poopknuckle goal going in for Toronto.
In fancy stats circles, hits are looked at as kind of a bad thing because they mean you don't have the puck. This is generally true, but doesn't stop me from enjoying Luke Glendening trucking Dion Phaneuf along the boards in the Toronto zone.
Halfway through the period, the Wings screw up a zone exit and Sheahan ends up taking a hooking penalty as David Booth catches him flat-footed. Less than a minute later, DeKeyser toe-picks himself trying to get a puck clear from the boards and covers the puck with his hand giving Toronto a long 5-on-3. This is why we can't have nice things.
Detroit's hero PKers do another wonderful job of killing off shorthanded time and kill the 5-on-3. Toronto's single man advantage ends 11 seconds early as Kyle Quincey smartly holds the puck and clears it before Joffrey Lupul boards him. The Wings don't score on their power play, but the momentum sticks with them after Lupul comes back on.
Finally, with just over two minutes left in the 2nd period, the Wings find paydirt as the snakebitten line okey-dokes the Leafs. Zetterberg holds intelligently while Lupul chases a dumb hit on Jurco. After Jurco recovers from the hit, he gets a pass from Zetterberg and gets it to the front. Gustav Nyquist overpowers Morgan Reilly in front and plants home a spin-o-rama backhand. What a pretty play.
2nd Period ends with Detroit ahead 1-0 and with the shot counter in their favor at 22-10.
@wingingitmotown James Reimer what the fuck— Micah Stupak-Hahn (@laerm) December 11, 2014
I don't even want to play this period knowing that the Leafs have a not-awful chance of coming back in a game they have no business being in. There's no such thing as a one-goal mercy rule though, so they go ahead and drop the puck.
Just over five minutes in my fears are confirmed as JVR hits Kessel on the back door to tie it. Woof.
Minutes later, the Wings get another power play opportunity on a super-dirty clipping hit by Kadri, who takes out Glendening's legs after a dump-in. The Wings can't take advantage and Kadri ends up with a breakaway coming out of the box. Kadri has Jimmy dead to rights but misses wide.
You may be unaware of this, but Pavel Datsyuk is really good at hockey. With less than eight minutes to go, he picks up a loose puck in the Wings' zone and heads up ice, okey-doking Phaneuf into believing he lacks another gear before turning it up on him to get around for a scoring chance that gets denied by a Phaneuf slash.
Late in the third, the game turns into a wrestling match. Both teams cheat and get away with it, but it bothers me more when the Leafs do it. Sue me. The Period ends with the score 1-1 and the shot counter looking like it needs to sit down for a while.
Detroit can't get much going, but mostly control the play. Natrually this means the best scoring chance goes to Toronto as van Riemsdyk squeaks one behind Howard that Nyquist keeps from sliding over the line. The very next shot on goal belongs to Niklas Kronwall just before he runs over Reimer with 56 seconds left, giving the Leafs a 4-on-3 power play that has to be killed. Shootout time.
Additional Bullets of Wisdom
- I'll be honest, I kind of like how the arena half-fills with Leafs fans during these games. It adds an extra energy to the Joe and the dueling chants are fun. We've seen half-empty lower bowls for way too many games the last few years but you know that won't happen when the Leafs come to town.
- Joffrey Lupul is stupid.
- James Reimer deserves this win. Carlyle probably doesn't deserve to have Reimer win this game for him.
- I was wondering the other day how much leeway Franzen would get by the fans after FSD caught him going down the tunnel to brutalize his own stick out of frustration in the Rangers game. I think he's burned through that rope by now.
- Guys need to hit the net more often IMO.