Made the playoffs. Don't care about the loss. Woo!
Shots were 37-24 for the Wings, but PIT went 2/4 on their power play and Detroit failed on their two chances.
Can we put to rest the last of the implications that Jonas Gustavsson should overtake Jimmy Howard on the depth chart? Two stinkers in a row for the Monster.
1st Period 10:41 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Jurco (wrist shot) from Daniel Alfredsson
The Wings force an offensive zone turnover and get a fortunate bounce from behind the net that Jurco puts home. Helm and Jurco chase a dump-in and are able to win a battle to keep it in the zone on the half-wall as Alfredsson comes in to help. Alfie is ridden off and Niskanen blocks off Jurco to allow Sutter to get to the puck heading around behind his own net, but Helm has already moved to that side of the ice and he jumps in to lay a hit on Sutter in the corner, forcing him to play it up the boards to Kunitz. The pass comes too quickly for Kunitz and ends up on DeKeyser's stick at the point to quickly be dumped back in to Helm now skating back up the boards. Jurco provides a little bit of space, allowing Helm to threaten a turn inside as he's watched by Sutter. Helm gets a few feet off the boards and throws the puck to the middle where Alfredsson skates into it with a step on his man. Alfie winds up for the one-timer, but pulls it back down and skates it to the dot where he fires a shot on net that Fleury fights off. The puck bounces off the goalie's shoulder and to the end-boards, where it then bounces back to the front of the net. Jurco beats Letang to the puck and jams it under Fleury for the opening goal. Good forechecking by Helm and Jurco will earn each of them a plus. Alfredsson will get a half-plus for his contributions to this play.
2nd Period 09:03 - Pittsburgh Goal (PP): James Neal (backhand) from Sidney Crosby and Paul Martin
Neal ties it on the power play with a quick zone entry and good feed from Sidney Crosby that gives him the space to deke the goalie and slide it in around him. Detroit gets an early clear, forcing the Pens to come back up through center, which they do with aplomb as Martin gives it to Crosby at the blue line and Crosby draws three of four defenders over to him as he gains the blue line. This leaves the spot open for Neal on the back side. Crosby finds him with the backhand pass and Neal has space to walk it in on Gustavsson, deking around him and putting it in on the backhand. Helm will get a minus for dropping the coverage on Neal, but Lashoff will pick up a half-minus here as well. Miller is draped on Crosby pretty well. Lashoff has a chance to step up here with a decent shot he's not going to get embarrassed. Instead, he backs off and is part of the problem.
2nd Period 14:22 - Detroit Goal: Jakub Kindl (slap shot) from Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist
Detroit regains the lead on a Kindl slapper through a mess of players in front after a good offensive zone shift by the Kid Line. Tatar and Sheahan start the forecheck which gives the defenders fits, eventually working it up top where Lashoff puts it off the side of the net. Nyquist comes in and takes it back from Orpik to keep the puck in the zone as Martin has lost his stick in front. Goose tries to feed it out front, but it gets through to Kindl, who plays catch with Tatar along the boards before receiving it back and taking it to the middle of the zone along the blue line. Sheahan takes up net-front position and is pushed into Fleury by Orpik. This helps things out as Fleury is too distracted to stop the puck he sees too late. This is good work by all three of the kids, who will earn pluses (Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan). Additionally, Sheahan will get a screener's assist.
2nd Period 16:42 - Pittsburgh Goal (PP): James Neal (wrist shot) from Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin
Pittsburgh ties it up on the power play as Neal bounces a shot in off a block attempt by DeKeyser. Glendening is lucky not to take a penalty on the faceoff for gloving the puck and the Penguins recover possession anyway, moving it to Martin at the far point away from the dot. Martin lets the umbrella set up, going to Neil atop the right circle, who goes to Niskanen at the top of the zone in the middle. Niskanen and Martin reset the formation before going back to Neal above the left circle. Crosby is standing off to the side of the net on that side, holding DeKeyser a bit low on the coverage. Neal takes advantage of this by walking it just above the dot and firing a half-slapper that DeKeyser goes down to block. Instead of getting all of it, DK has the puck hit him on the backside and beat Gustavsson to the far post. Glendening (lost faceoff on which he was lucky not to take a penalty) and DeKeyser (not effectively blocking the shot) will each earn minuses.
3rd Period 09:17 - Pittsburgh Goal: Jussi Jokinen (wrist shot) from Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen
Gustavsson gives up a stinker and the Penguins take the lead. Woof. Crosby makes a very good play to get through center ice and create a zone entry which nearly earns Neal his hat trick were it not for his hotdogging ass going for a slapper that gives Gustavsson time to square. The Wings are able to chip the puck out off the rebound as Letang grabs it and gets backed across his own blue line by Legwand. Letang gives Legwand a shake and moves up through center, catching the four remaining Wings all behind their own blue line on a change. Letang speeds up the right wing side, forced wide by Glendening, before firing a wrister from the bottom of the circle. Gustavsson lets the puck bounce off his chest thinking he'll cradle the puck for a whistle, but he doesn't do that. Instead, the Monster shits the puck behind him into the crease and fails to account for the fact that he doesn't have control. The dastardly ref sees the loose puck and refuses to blow the play dead. In the confusion, everybody stands around while Jokinen skates all the way through the middle and to the post with nobody touching him before finding the loose puck behind Gustavsson and putting it in. First, this is a bad goal, and so all the minuses will be cleared for Smith, Legwand, Miller, Glendening, and Kronwall. However, I'm not happy with the gaggle of people who are responsible for making sure Jokinen can't get to this rebound. I'm going to give minuses back to Kronwall, Smith, and Legwand. Each of those three had either a chance to realize what was happening or a responsibility to prevent it regardless. Miller is up above the crease watching the net-front and is not at fault here while Glendening continues his coverage on Letang around behind the net, leaving him unable to stop it. Those two remain the only victims on this play.
3rd Period 18:45 - Detroit Goal: Riley Sheahan (slap shot) from Niklas Kronwall
Detroit gets the game-tying goal late in the third as the Kids push the Wings into the playoffs. Sheahan wins the offensive zone faceoff with 1:44 remaining and the 30 seconds of zone dominance begins for the Kid Line. They almost score quickly as Neal tries to get fancy with a puck along the boards after a Brendan Smith shot. Instead of chipping it out of the zone, Neal turns back to his own corner and tries to reverse it. Tatar picks it off and gets the puck to the front of the net where they almost score. After a bit of a Scramble, Tatar gets the puck over in the left side corner and waits before throwing a rink-wide pass to a pinching Smith. Here, Smith makes a move around Kunitz, but has his centering feed from behind the net blocked by Letang, who throws it off the boards behind his own net up to Kronwall at the point. Kroner goes to the opposite point where Sheahan is covering for Smith, who is just getting back up top. Sheahan one-times the pass at the traffic in front of Fleury. As Martin ties up with Jurco a few feet above the crease, the puck deflects off the defenseman's stick and rainbows over the shoulder of Fleury, hitting the crossbar and bouncing into the net for the game-tying playoff-clinching goal. Sheahan, Jurco, and Smith will each get a plus for their work on this goal. Tatar makes much of this happen and will earn a plus and a half. Kronwall's only additions to this play are passively making Neal think twice about the play up the boards (with good positioning), and the quick, accurate pass to Sheahan. These are underrated veteran moves by Kronwall and will earn him a half-plus.
1st Period 02:11 - Brian Gibbons (high sticking): Gibbons ss forechecking in the Wings' zone and tries a stick-lift which misses and catches Kindl in the face. No adjustment.
1st Period 11:45 - Jussi Jokinen (holding the stick): The Wings threaten to get to the front of the net on a won faceoff and Jokinen grabs Helm's stick. Helm does a good job of making sure the ref sees him trying to get his stick free. This will earn Helm a plus. Not only does he win the faceoff, but he wins the race to the front of the net as well.
1st Period 19:40 - Kyle Quincey (holding): Quincey takes a bad angle on Bennett through the neutral zone and uses a free hand to slow him down. Bennett sells it, but he doesn't have to. This is an easy call to make. Minus for Quincey.
2nd Period 08:39 - Luke Glendening (interference): Glendening is trying to help Kronwall out chasing a puck into his own zone and steps into Tanner Glass' way to slow him down, earning a penalty for being too obvious with it. Minus for Glendening.
2nd Period 16:26 - David Legwand (high sticking): Gibbons takes a stick up high on a nothing dump-in by the Pens. This is a dumb play by Legwand, who will get a minus.
3rd Period 15:46 - Brian Lashoff (holding): Lashoff loses a footrace with Gibbons and hauls him down to prevent a breakaway chance. Minus for Lashoff.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, and Jakub Kindl: Yes, every single defenseman deserves a positive adjustment in this game. The result was a shootout loss, but the process showed the Wings playing dominant hockey. Lashoff will remain the player with the worst rating at +0.5, but Smith & Kronner played over 26 minutes each. Quincey/DeKeyser ate big minutes against Crosby while winning the possession battle, Kindl went 17-2 in CF/A. The blueliners were good in this game.
-1 to Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen: I thought Datsyuk's linemates limited his effectiveness in this one. At this point, I'm actually mad at Franzen for how hard he worked in overtime because that wasn't present at all in the first 60 minutes. Abdelkader, bless his heart, well... he wasn't good.
+1 to Darren Helm and Drew Miller: PK work and even-strength forechecking by these two really helped move the needle for the Wings. I wish they had gotten more chances.
23 straight playoffs. Woo!
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