With the Wings in desperate need of a win and the injury situation so bad that Brendan Smith got time as a forward, Detroit found a way to hold on for a win against a Leafs team they're trying to chase down in the standings. Nyquist scored two and Alfredsson added the dagger as Detroit beat Toronto 3-2.
Both teams got four power play opportunities and Toronto was the only team to capitalize on one of them. Shots were 33-31 in favor of the Leafs thanks to a third period flurry of activity. I didn't mind the reffing standard in this game.
Jimmy Howard played a very good game to bail out the Wings on a few miscues, which overall I felt helped them play a bit more aggressively. The team returned the favor by doing a good job of helping clear rebounds and traffic in front of the net, but if I had to say who did more of the lifting in that relationship, I'd say Howard pulled more popcorn.
1st Period 12:50 - Detroit Goal: Gustav Nyquist (backhand) from Kyle Quincey
A good defensive play at the top of the zone by Gustav Nyquist springs him for a breakaway that Reimer stops at first, but not enough to prevent himself from accidentally punching it into his own net on the recovery. After a long board battle behind the Toronto net, the Leafs get it out and are able to create movement up ice with a good play by Kessel to turn back the defense. This almost pays off on the zone entry as Bozak tries dumping it back across the ice to Kessel on the return. Nyquist breaks up this play by getting his stick in the lane to bounce the puck over Kessel's stick. Phil the Pill recovers in the corner and attempts a blind backhanded centering attempt that Quincey blocks and then pops up the boards out of the air for Nyquist. The puck bounces halfway between Nyquist and Gleason just inside the line. This pays off as Nyquist blocks Gleason's attempt to dump it around him and is able to turn on the jets up ice with only Cody Franson trailing him. Goose tries to go forehand-backhand through the five hole. Reimer initially blocks it, but then puts it into his own net as he tries to recover. Tatar and Sheahan will give their pluses back to Glendening and Miller, who change behind this breakaway. Nyquist will get a bonus plus and a half for breaking up the pass and then defeating the defense at the top of the zone. Quincey isn't in great position for the pass that would have connected to Kessel were it not for Nyquist, but he makes a good recovery and play to get it up the boards. This will earn Quincey a half-plus.
3rd Period 02:06 - Detroit Goal: Gustav Nyquist (wrist shot) unassisted
Early in the third the Wings make it 2-0 on a Nyquist break up the wing that he snaps far post on Reimer. Nyquist first tries to spring Miller through the D at center, but has that attempt blocked and has to get back as Toronto re-enters the Wings' zone. Clarkson fights through Sheahan to get free in the corner and try a centering attempt for Kadri going to the front of the net. Quincey deflects the pass to prevent Kadri from getting off a clean shot and the puck bounces off the end boards up to the corner where Lupul goes to get it watched closely by Brendan Smith. As soon as he touches it, Lupul has Smith on him, so he attempts a pass back to the point. Nyquist is there to tip the pass away from Ranger and again has his legs pumping to get behind the D-man. Nyquist catches up to the puck along the half-boards on the right wing side and Rielly has the center lane blocked, but he's able to step to the dot where he snaps it off the far post and into Reimer's net. Miller and Smith will get the pluses back that Tatar and Kronwall get for stepping on behind the play. Smith will also get a half-plus for the good play to pressure Lupul into a mistake. Quincey will earn a half-plus for good defensive work to prevent the Kadri chance, and Nyquist will earn himself a plus for once again getting behind the defense with the puck thanks to strong in-zone play. Riley Sheahan is going to lose his plus on this play though. The chance the Leafs get before this rush because he lets Clarkson beat him cleanly along the boards is too dangerous.
3rd Period 08:24 - Toronto Goal (PP): Jake Gardiner (wrist shot) from Morgan Rielly
Toronto gets on the board on a set icing play with a man advantage that springs Gardiner behind the defense that he finishes with a deke on Howard. Detroit gets a clear that Rielly picks up behind his own net and skates to his own blue line with. Miller is the lone guy up to get near him, but before he can fully challenge, Rielly throws the puck to the right side corner of the Wings' zone on a pass that would be icing except that Gardiner has a full head of steam and several steps on the nearest defenders. Before anybody can get back, Gardiner picks up the puck at the faceoff dot off the bounce and fakes a shot on Howard before sliding it around him and putting it into the net. This is one heck of a well-executed play by the Leafs, but it works because of a coverage mistake. Glendening is covering the strong side blue line boards where Raymond waits. Miller is already forcing the play to this side at the Toronto blue line. DeKeyser is standing in the middle of the ice and Kronwall is on the right wing coverage side as three PKers are lined up on the blue line. Lupul and Kadri are behind Rielly on the rush and do represent back-pass options. Really, either of the D-Men going back faster would prevent this while still keeping the ability to defend against a rush if Rielly cycles to a guy behind him. Either DeKeyser can back behind the blue line as the safety valve in case Kronwall can't block a pass to him in the middle while Kronner stays positioned for the drop option or Kronwall races with Gardiner back and DeKeyser steps into the gap to make that read; either of those plays is acceptable, but neither happens. I'm going to give both Kronwall and DeKeyser a minus.
3rd Period 17:27 - Detroit Goal: Daniel Alfredsson (wrist shot) from David Legwand and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings get a two-goal cushion on a good zone clear leading to an odd-man rush that Alfredsson finishes with a snipe through Reimer from the slot. Kessel kind of surprises Kronwall on the right wing side with his speed as he's able to get to the faceoff dot with a scoring chance that Howard out-waits and shuts down, blocking the eventual shot. DeKeyser races back to push the rebound to the corner and then establish position on Gardiner following up, giving Legwand room to pick it up and swing down through the corner with it. van Riemsdyk takes position to cut Legwand off behind the net, so he dumps it back into the corner where Franzen is able to get a step on Bozak and pick it up, taking the same path as Legwand before him. Bozak moves to cut him off, so Franzen keeps the cycle alive by again dumping it into the same corner where this time DeKeyser picks it up with a bit of room. DK again makes the same move to skate behind the net, but this time dumps it off quicker as Kessel chases in on him. Kronwall receives the pass near the half-wall and starts a spin to face up ice. Gardiner pinches on Kronwall, but is beaten by a simply bounce off the boards up ice which finds Legwand moving through center and picking up Alfredsson for a 2-on-1 against Franson. Legwand takes the left-wing side as Alfie goes tot he middle. Franson cheats a bit to Legwand's side because he has van Riemsdyk skating hard back on Alfredsson. This gamble fails when Legwand chips it over to Alfie just above the circles. The veteran Swede collects the pass in the slot and snipes it through Reimer as he attempts to square to the shot. This is a fantastic and calm in-zone cycle to create the breakout that the Wings put on here. It's positively clinical how each new guy comes into the corner quickly to keep space from the Leafs' forecheckers and his teammates set up positioning for options. I think DeKeyser makes the best overall impact on this play and will earn a bonus plus for the backcheck to clear the rebound and then the pass to Kronner to finally move the cycle up ice. Kronwall, Franzen, Legwand and Alfredsson will each earn a half-plus for their part in this play as well.
3rd Period 18:47 - Toronto Goal: James van Riemsdyk (tip in) from Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul
The Leafs make it a one-goal game with the goalie pulled late on a redirect of a floating wrister from up top. Sheahan loses a defensive zone draw and the Leafs are able to set up with the man advantage with a lot of passing at the top of the zone to keep the defenders just far enough away to keep them from being able to disrupt these lanes. After a blocked shot by Sheahan is recovered by the Leafs and a temporarily-bobbled pass to the corner comes closest to giving the defenders an opportunity to clear the puck, Toronto re-settles. Phaneuf mishandles a one-timer attempt and is forced to dump it behind the net by Tatar aggressively attacking him. Unfrotunately Kindl gets outmanned below the net and Lupul is able to recover the puck and hold off Sheahan to skate it to the corner before passing back up to Phaneuf at the top of the zone. Tatar stays near to challenge, but Phaneuf walks to the middle and gets a wrister off that meets van Riemsdyk at the front of the net for a tip past Howard. Lashoff will have his minus halved. He spends a great deal of time doing excellent net-front work to take away good passing looks for the Leafs. Nyquist gets himself caught temporarily and allows a chance that has to be stopped so he'll keep his minus. Kindl and Tatar will each earn an extra half-minus for temporary coverage mistakes which give the Leafs the opportunity to score here (Tatar takes his stick out of the shooting lane before Phaneuf's shot and Kindl looks away at the wrong time which allows JVR to get into the right position to tip this puck. Sheahan will get a half-minus for losing the faceoff cleanly and then losing the positioning battle to Lupul before the pass back to Phaneuf.
1st Period 03:40 - Joffrey Lupul (hooking): The Wings get the first power play of the game on a hooking call against the Leafs as Lupul lazily hooks Kronwall escaping from behind his own net with the puck. No adjustment on a lazy play by the Leafs forward.
1st Period 04:35 - Tomas Tatar (slashing): Tatar takes the Wings off a power play by giving an unnecessary retaliatory chop to Ranger after a hit along the boards. Tatar will get a minus. He can't get caught retaliating.
1st Period 16:48 - Mason Raymond (holding): Tatar gets a pass to Sheahan, who makes a great move to get around Raymond in the corner and draw a hold. Sheahan will get a plus.
2nd Period 03:05 - Tim Gleason (boarding): Smith and Ferraro do a good job forechecking in the Toronto zone and Gleason somehow gets away with tackling Smith before laying on top of him. Finally the big lug gets a call as he pastes Smith into the boards. This is a dumb play by Gleason, but good play by Smith and Ferraro helps lead to it. Half-plus for both Smith and Ferraro.
2nd Period 08:16 - James van Riemsdyk (holding): The Leafs are starting a dangerous scoring chance that's ended when JVR grabs Sheahan crashing the Detroit net to yank him out of the lane. No adjustment. This is a stupid penalty to take.
2nd Period 14:36 - Luke Glendening (hooking): Glendening gets caught flat-footed at his own blue line as the Leafs enter the zone, jabbing his stick into the player and taking a hooking call. Minus for Glendening, who had been having a good shift up until that point.
3rd Period 06:58 - Kyle Quincey (high sticking): Quincey goes to the box as the follow-through of a pass attempt comes high on Bozak in the corner. Minus for Quincey. He's got to be better with the stick here.
3rd Period 09:58 - Johan Franzen (tripping): Nazem Kadri spins away from an on-rushing Franzen in the defensive zone and Mule responds by sticking a leg out to make sure he gets Kadri, taking him down. Franzen will get a minus.
-0.5 to David Legwand: He made a good play on the goal and is partially saved by good plays elsewhere, but he had a couple of turnovers plus an intentional offsides play that will bring him down from an overall +1.5.
+0.5 to Todd Bertuzzi: I thought he forechecked/cycled effectively and was happy with both his two faceoff wins and three shots on goal.
+1 to Tomas Tatar: He got a little unlucky as far as the ratings adjustments went. This one gets him to an overall -1.5 to account for a handful of turnovers which hurt. He was given a 7-1 offensive to defensive start advantage and needs to do more with that.
+1 to Brian Lashoff, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, and Danny DeKeyser: I think the Wings' defense played well in this game and that all four of these guys deserved bonus adjustments to show that.
This is the kind of game I'd like to see more of from Kyle Quincey.
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