This was the Wings most complete game of the tournament, and I'm sure that has something to do with the players comfort level and chemistry increasing as they spend more time together both on and off the ice. There wasn't much "open" space in the game, and it seemed that almost everywhere the puck went there were players form both teams scrambling all around it. The Wild did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and of often taking liberties with Wings players and "mugging" them (almost always uncalled) every chance they got. Two players had to be helped or carried off the ice and the uncertainty of both players condition was looming over many of us in attendance.
Thankfully, since the game ended, we've heard good news about Brandon Robinson (see 3rd period for more details) and he was at the rink the following morning.
|Tyler Bertuzzi||Andreas Athanasiou||Anthony Mantha|
|Martin Frk||Tomas Nosek||Colin Campbell|
|Marek Tvrdon||Zach Nastasiuk||Jerome Verrier|
|Darby Llewellyn||Dominic Turgeon||Brandon Robinson|
|Mattias Backman||Ryan Sproul|
|Richard Nedomlel||Joe Hicketts|
|Mitchell Wheaton||Ty Stanton|
How It Went Down
Jeff Blashill's line changes paid dividends a mere 10 seconds into the period when Tyler Bertuzzi let a wrister fly that beat Brandon Whitney and gave the Wings a 1-0 lead. That was the only goal in the period, but the Wings had 2 or 3 other chances that got the crowd excited thinking they were for sure going to be goals. Jared Coreau made several key stops to keep the Wild off the scoresheet while the Wings skaters were hemmed in their own zone and were… messy. Andreas Athanasiou had the only penalty in the period and the Wings penalty kill was efficient with the Wing being "encouraged" to get up ice and try to keep the puck in the Wild zone as much as possible. A combination of the Wings scrambling and the Wild putting pressure on in the last couple minutes of the period left me with the hope the boys would settle down, calm down, and re-group during the intermission. The penalties called were a little iffy, and Coach Blashill didn’t appreciate Athanasiou being the only one called when there were two others that should have been called almost simultaneously.
I hope whatever was done or said in the dressing room during the 1st intermission was documented and recorded for future use, because the team that came out in the 2nd was much calmer and methodical. The first 8 minutes of the period were spent mostly in the Wild zone and I saw the Tyler Bertuzzi I’ve been looking for all week. The rest of the period was more give and go with the teams exchanging puck possession and scoring chances. Just after the halfway mark of the period, tournament invitee Joe Hicketts (Game 1 OT winning goal scorer Joe Hicketts) put the Wings up 2-0 when he hammered home a nice cross-crease pass from Marek Tvrdon. Unfortunately less than two minutes later the Wild would cut that lead in half when the puck took an unlucky bounce for the Wings after Coreau made the initial save and the puck bounced up and over his pad. The Wild took the only two penalties in the period, but the Wings power play just couldn't get the job done. With just a few minutes left in the period Guillaume Gelinas went down on all fours on the ice. He had to be helped off the ice, and "standing" between two medical personnel he was woozy, completely out of it, and was very confused when doctors asked him to say the alphabet. I'm still not sure exactly how he got hurt, though I've watched the video numerous times. I see Brandon Robinson do a spin move to get past Gelinas with the puck, then Glinas drops the the ice, stunned.
The period got off to a very scary start when just a few minutes in, tournament invitee Brandon Robinson went awkwardly into the boards head first. He lay motionless on the ice for what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality about 8 minutes, while the Wings medic tended to him gingerly, focusing on his head and neck area. He was finally taken off the ice on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for tests and evaluation. The Wings scored three more goals in the 3rd and allowed the Wild to have no more. Just when it seemed like nothing good or exciting was going to happen, Ty Stanton gets the puck at the top of the left defensive zone circle and sends it up ice towards Andreas Athanasiou who's skating up the right side of the ice across the Wings' blue line. Athanasiou takes the pass on his stick, behind his back, taps it up between his legs nudges it forward with his right toe, keeps the puck on his stick with his right hand, carrying it in on his backhand, while using his left hand to ward off the Wild defender who's desperately jabbing at the puck with both hands on his stick, uses his seed to pull away, cuts to the middle while a second defender is coming at him, pulls the puck back and beat the goalie 5-hole from just outside the blue paint. Andreas Athanasiou can make magic out of this air. There can be nothing good or exciting happening in a game, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere he'll grab the puck streak up the ice, blow by forwards, split defenders, make goalies his beeotches, and burry that little rubber disk. Anything can happen when he's on the ice, and that's part of what makes him so exciting to watch and so difficult for the other team to contain. Six minutes later, Mitch Wheaton pinches at the left point and sends the puck towards the end boards, Athanasiou helps it along and it heads towards the side boards to the left of the Wild goalie. Anthony Mantha skates over and somehow reaches in between two Wild players and come away with the puck, winds up nice and big, and ripps the puck high glove side on the goalie whose only reaction at all was to drop to the ice. With 5 minutes let in the game, Colin Campbell went down and blocked a shot, as he was sliding along the ice and attempting to get back up, Tanner Faith decided to cross check him in the back. They exchanged heated shoves, and Campbell gave him a nice tap to the back of the leg and started to skate away. He didn't get very far when Curtis Gabriel said some not so nice things to Colin and the two dropped the gloves. Gabriel has 3 inches and 15 pounds on Campbell but it was a pretty even fight with Colin taking Gabriel to the ice. With 23 seconds left in the game, Tyler Bertuzzi was credited with an empty netter (though the Wild player actually shot the puck into his own net while trying to steal it from Bertuzzi) to ensure the 5-1 win.
The Wings final game against the Carolina Hurricanes to battle for 3rd and 4th place takes place at 6:30 this evening.