Trying to build off an emotional overtime victory over the Penguins on Thursday, the Wings flew to Minnesota for a Saturday afternoon game to start off a home-and-home against the Wild. After 60 minutes of back-and-forth hockey, the Wings got the job done with a 3-2 victory.
The refs called off a goal for the Wings that would have made the last few minutes ever slightly more relaxing and generally called things oddly. The Wings went 2/2 on the power play and the Wild 1/3. Shots were even at 30-30.
Jimmy Howard played another good game to earn a victory for his team. He bit pretty hard on a penalty shot deke, but other than that, he played a very strong game helping to control the play, limit rebounds, and bail out his defenders when need-be. I was particularly impressed with a play in the Wild's last power play as the puck was set to go behind his net and he outwaited it at the near post. Howard was paid off for his patience when the pass came back out front and he was in position at that post to make the save.
1st Period 05:38 - Minnesota Goal (PP): Mikko Koivu (wrist shot) from Ryan Suter and Matt Moulson
Minny scores first on the power play as Suter finds Koivu at the dot for a quick snapper over the glove. After a couple tries where the Wild set up on the left boards and pass to the middle for a shot attempt, Darren Helm gets the puck out of the zone, but not all the way down. Before they get a change completed, Pominville passes to Moulson along the same left boards at the blue line for a zone entry. Moulson lets everybody get into the zone before dropping it to Suter coming in behind him. Suter carries a lot of momentum and is able to get past Miller as the forward turns to face the point. As Suter gets below the half-wall, he finds Koivu backing into the shooting lane in a soft spot. Miller is too far to the inside after having missed Suter and Lashoff has to respect the lane to the net. Howard is still adjusting to the pass when Koivu snaps it past him. Although he's not on the ice when it happens, I'm going to give Helm a half-minus for not getting the puck all the way down the ice when he had a chance to. Miller will get a minus for losing the coverage on Suter and then not adjusting to the Koivu coverage.
1st Period 10:34 - Detroit Goal (PP): Brendan Smith (backhand) from David Legwand and Jakub Kindl
The Wings tie it up with Suter in the box as Smith gets a back door rebound into the net. After Legwand is chased from the circle, Sheahan wins the faceoff as Tatar comes in to help get it to Kindl, who moves to set up the umbrella. Kindl drops it to Legwand on the left side at the top of the circle as Tatar is in the middle, Sheahan is net-front, and Smith is opposite side circle. With a bit of room to shoot, Legwand tries snapping it short side, but hits the post. The puck bounces off Kuemper's back and to the bottom of the right circle where Smith is sneaking in. Without hesitation, Smith sweeps a backhander into the net and ties it up. Sheahan will get a plus for winning the faceoff as the 2nd man into the circle. That's not easy to do and he was able to accomplish this.
2nd Period 17:24 - Detroit Goal (PP): David Legwand (wrist shot) from Riley Sheahan and Jakub Kindl
Detroit earns a 2-1 lead on the power play as good movement opens up the defense for an easy back door pass and finish. The Wings win the initial faceoff (Sheahan) and pass the puck very sharply around the perimeters to keep the defense guessing, recovering loose pucks before they can get on them. Eventually, the puck comes back to the point where DeKeyser passes to Tatar as they switch over and Kindl sets up on the half-wall. Tatar passes off to Kindl, who immediately throws it low to Sheahan parked in front. Sheahan protects the puck out to the side of the net while the defense starts to move on him. This opens up Legwand on the back door to receive the pass for the goal. This is a very good power play setup and Sheahan will get a plus for both the early faceoff win and also a couple plays to protect the puck well. Both DeKeyser and Tatar will also earn half-pluses on this play, as they have a minor battle in the corner on a lost possession which results in a failed clear which helps lead to this goal.
3rd Period 00:15 - Minnesota Goal (penalty shot): Charlie Coyle (forehand)
Coyle ties it going backhand-forehand getting Howard to bite hard and sliding it behind him. No adjustment.
3rd Period 05:19 - Detroit Goal: Gustav Nyquist (wrist shot) from Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith
Detroit re-takes the lead on a great bit of transition during which two passes moves them 60 feet and gives Nyquist room to get into a shooting position for a pretty snipe past Kuemper. Suter gathers a puck behind his own net and tries to drive the breakout with a quick pass while Tatar pressures and Sheahan/Nyquist watch farther up the zone. Suter's pass misses and goes to Kronwall in the neutral zone. Kronner hands over to Smith while they both glide back behind their own blue line to reset the play. Smith passes up to Sheahan in the middle as they all turn and Sheahan waits a half-second before saucering a pass to Nyquist coming up the right side. This backs the defense off enough for Nyquist to get the zone with a bit of room to cut across the blue line while Tatar drives to the front from the left wing side. Nyquist drags Suter across the slot before releasing a snipe from just inside and just above the dot. Kuemper can only watch as he catches the inside of the far post and it heads in. Tatar, Smith, Sheahan, and Nyquist will each earn a half-plus. The defensive setup to create the turnover and then the quick transition makes this play happen.
1st Period 05:07 - Kyle Quincey (interference): Minny gets three good scoring chances on Howard and Quincey goes to the box for pushing Parise over in front of the net without the puck there. Minus for Quincey. Easy call to make.
1st Period 06:43 - Tomas Tatar (high sticking) and Nate Prosser (roughing): Prosser takes Tatar into the boards after a whistle and Tatar swings around, catching Prosser in the face with the stick. Both guys go the box. No adjustment.
1st Period 10:26 - Ryan Suter (slashing): Darren Helm rushes into the Minnesota end and gets a chop for his trouble which breaks Suter's stick. Helm will get a plus for drawing this one. Good speed and puck pursuit leads to the slash.
2nd Period 04:57 - Tomas Tatar (tripping): Tatar goes to the box as Coyle holds his stick and falls down. Tatar will get a minus here. Tatar has no business having his stick here in the first place.
2nd Period 16:38 - Clayton Stoner (high sticking): Tatar gets in on Stoner in the Minny zone and catches a stick high when he surprises his man with how quickly he gets on him. Stoner needs to control his stick, but Tatar will get a half-plus for doing good work on the forecheck.
3rd Period 00:15 - Johan Franzen (tripping on a breakaway): Coyle gets a break with his speed through center, earning a penalty shot when Franzen tries a diving sweep-check that takes out the legs. Minus for Franzen.
3rd Period 16:33 - Niklas Kronwall (holding): The Wild put on pressure in the Wings' zone and Kronwall temporarily loses body position behind the net, taking down Koivu and going to the box. Kronwall will get a minus.
+1 to Brendan Smith: Simply put, Smith was perhaps the best Red Wings' defenseman in this game. He moved the puck incredibly well and didn't get bitten by the forecheck. I was very impressed.
+2 to Kyle Quincey: This adjustment will bring him to an overall +1. I liked Quincey in this game as the stay-at-home guy. He ended up blocking six shots and had no turnovers. He did get the one penalty for being a bit too aggressive on net-front, but that didn't soften his resolve to keep people away from Jimmy Howard.
+1 to Johan Franzen: Outside of the tripping call, Franzen played a physical game and drove the middle well. Bringing him back up to even.
+2 to Luke Glendening and Drew Miller, +1 to Todd Bertuzzi: Another good job by this line eliminating scoring opportunities against tough competition. They created good chances for themselves as well, but c'mon.. it's these guys. They're not scoring.
Kronwall played mostly solid, but he also had a few mistakes in the third period that eliminated an overall plus rating. DeKeyser played well in heavy minutes, but I counted two pretty bad defensive zone turnovers that kept him from being better than an adjusted +0.5.
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