Detroit finally came home after their six-game road trip and, despite that historically being a setup for a letdown and the Predators being at the top of the league standings, they handed Nashville a 5-2 beatdown.
Five penalties is pretty low for a game nowadays, but I wasn't displeased with the number of power plays given out. The specific calls left a bit to be desired but who cares? Nashville went 1/3 on the power play and Detroit 2/2. Shots were 35-24 in favor of the team that was losing for almost all of this game.
Petr Mrazek had a very solid game and easily could have been named one of the three stars. He did see a lot of garbage shots, but he controlled rebounds well and he held off some very not-garbage shots as well, including a really good chance in the first period. Without a good performance, this game could have gone much different for the Wings. In the Nashville end, they had two goalies put up a combined sub-.800 performance so... Rinne for Hart?
1st Period 00:57 - Detroit Goal: Gustav Nyquist (one-timer) from Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar
A good backcheck creates a turnover high in the Detroit zone that then becomes a 2-on-1 in transition that Sheahan feeds to Nyquist for a beautiful one-timer goal. The Kid Line almost gets in trouble as Nyquist makes a drop pass to Sheahan that doesn't connect because James Neal takes him down. Quincey is able to knock away a puck that would have created a true 2-on-1, but the follow-up gets it by him for Neal and Fisher to head up ice against DeKeyser and a backchecking Tatar. Fisher tries to hit Seth Jones trailing behind the play only to have his pass picked off by Tatar. After taking a moment to collect it, Tatar hits Sheahan in stride on the right wing streaking into the zone with Nyquist in a 2-on-1 against Victor Bartley. The Nashville defender never takes a good lane and is forced to try and lay out as Sheahan makes a saucer pass over the laid out stick from the top of the circle to Nyquist entering the left side of the slot. Hutton has no chance as Nyquist one-times it right by him. First off, I'm going to give the pluses on this play that Smith and Ouellet got for stepping on during the pass that set up the goal back to Quincey and DeKeyser where they belong. Those two were actively involved in the play that made this happen. Next up, Tatar will get a plus for the great backchecking work to break up the Nashville rush. Finally, Sheahan will get a half-plus for how he receives the Tatar pass. It's a bit behind him, but instead of breaking stride, he wonderfully passes it up to himself without losing speed. I feel this is part of why Victor Bartley was unable to accurately judge the lane he needed to be in.
1st Period 11:22 - Detroit Goal: Kyle Quincey (slap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk
Detroit's second goal comes off a clean faceoff win in the offensive zone that Kyle Quincey is able to bounce through traffic and past Hutton. Detroit gets an offensive zone faceoff thanks to Seth Jones icing the puck. Datsyuk wins it cleanly back to Quincey, who steps straight into it for a slapper that bounces off Victor Bartley's Victor Buttley and into the net. Hey, it works. Datsyuk will get a half-plus for the clean faceoff win.
1st Period 12:32 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Gustav Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall
Before you know it, the score is 3-0 as Tatar takes a feed off the boards to snipe one from the dot. After a post-goal shift for the 4th line, the kids come back out, getting into the zone as Sheahan picks up a wounded duck pass from Mike Fisher that tries to catch the Wings in the change from the top of the defensive zone circles to the other blue line, but barely clear's Nashville's blue line. Before saying something mean about Fisher needing to do more pushups, Sheahan crosses into the Nashville zone and then pushes the puck to the corner while he steps around Fisher trying to rub him out along the boards. Anthony Bitetto is the first man on it, but Nyquist is there to help out. Those two cancel and Sheahan gets it heading behind the net. He tries leaving it for Nyquist to go the other way, but Nyquist is still heavily covered and shoves it back to Sheahan coming out from behind the icing line to Hutton's left before saucering a thigh-high pass to the middle that gets by everybody. Kronwall outraces James Neal to the half-wall and is able to slap the puck deeper into the zone on the keep in. Nyquist has Bitetto bearing down on him, but Tatar is circling back down from the top of the zone (where he went to cover for Kronwall's pinch). Nyquist finds Tatar at the top of the circle with a nifty backhand pass. Tats takes it as Mike Fisher freezes in front of him trying to block the shot and Sheahan takes up residence in Carter Hutton's eyeball space. Somehow, Tatar is able to fire it right through Fisher and into the net to chase Hutton. Sheahan will earn a screener's assist for the total eclipse of the Hutt going on there. Tatar will get a half-plus for turning good defensive positioning into offense. Nyquist and Sheahan will get a full plus each for their work forechecking while Kronwall will get a plus for the zero-hesitation step-up to keep the loose puck in the zone. Any waiting there and Neal gets it out.
1st Period 18:38 - Nashville Goal: Mattias Ekholm (wrist shot) from Colin Wilson
Nashville gets on the board as a defensive zone turnover for the Wings gets out to Ekholm pinching into the high slot for the ol' patented fire-in-it-off-Quincey's-ass play. The play starts as a faceoff in the Wings' zone thanks to Petr Mrazek icing the puck. The draw gets scrambled, but eventually the puck is moved to the corner of the Wings' zone and Detroit is in position to move it out. Unfortunately, the right-shooting Luke Glendening is the worst guy to have doing this, as he tries to go diagonal to Andersson from inside the trapezoid up to the high corner and has that picked off by Colin Wilson at the bottom of the circle. With Quincey having gone behind the net to help with breakout planning, Drew Miller is covering the net-front, which leaves Ekholm wide open to receive a pass in the high slot. Wilson hits him with it and he rips the puck to the outside of Miller's attempt to block the shot. Ekholm gets a lucky bounce here as Quincey is posting up at the near post to keep Neal off the doorstep and has the puck go off his ass. Turnabout for Quincey is fair play, I guess. I hope Ekholm kept that stinky puck. I'm going to clear everybody except for Glendening and Quincey on this play, even Miller. DK does a good job playing body position to give Glendening the puck which he promptly turns over, so DK isn't t fault. Andersson is part of the scrambled faceoff that keeps it from getting back to Seth Jones at the point. Miller is covering the net-front via his positioning assignment, but the direct-on-net replay of the Ekholm shot shows that Miller's blocking position was exactly where it needed to be and that Ekholm's shot was going wide thanks to this. I'm not going to blame Miller for Quincey having it go off his ass. Quincey is partially responsible for making sure he doesn't fart goals into his own net, but he was doing his job here. I'm going to halve Quincey's minus. Glendening keeps his minus and earns a turnover minus for giving the puck away to Wilson.
2nd Period 02:14 - Detroit Goal (PP): Henrik Zetterberg (bank shot magic) from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings score on their first power play as Henrik Zetterberg decides that being behind the icing line is no excuse for not being able to put it into the net and he solves the tricky physics thanks to Marek Mazanec's noggin. Datsyuk beats Calle Jarnkrok clean on the faceoff and Zetterberg hands it back to Kronwall to set up the umbrella. Nashville plays this aggressively, so Kronner has to quickly go to Datsyuk at the half-wall and Datsyuk has to quickly go cross-ice to Zetterberg with plenty of room on the weak side lane thanks to the aggressive Nashville PK. Z walks to the top of the circle and fakes a slapper before continuing his path down through the dot to the side of the net. Hank crosses below the icing line with the puck as everybody else sets up for a cycle around or an attempt across the ice. Instead, Hank sees Maznec poking his pointy little head out from behind cover at the near post and no-scopes him from about two feet behind the goal line. It takes a bit for the refs to figure out that Hank had banked it off the goalie's brain-cage and in, but it counted. Datsyuk will get a plus for both the faceoff win and the quick feed to Hank. Kronwall will get a half-plus for the quick thinking against the aggressive Predators' OK.
2nd Period 19:21 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Tatar (infield single) from Riley Sheahan and Stephen Weiss
The Wings score on their second power play too. This time it's a cross-crease saucer pass that was probably meant for Teemu Pulkkinen on the back door except that Tomas Tatar has insane hand-eye coordination and he bats it perfectly out of mid-air into the net. The Wings' second unit starts off the power play and, after an early clear, gets set back up in the zone with some speedy puck movement and good puck retrieval. After a few good scoring chances, three keep-ins by DeKeyser, and a Holy Slapper, Weiss ends up with it on the right side half-wall. Looking off Fisher to keep his psace, Weiss gives it to Sheahan below the icing line at the side of the net. This catches all four PKers on one side of the ice as Sheahan turns to face back up ice. Weber and Josi converge on Sheahan down here and Jarnkrok is a bit slow to cover Tatar heading to the net-front as Sheahan saucers a puck to the net-front. If Tatar doesn't bat this out of mid-air, it's a fantastic opportunity for Pulkkinen's first goal, but I don't care. It's beautiful. I'm going to give DeKeyser a plus on this sequence for doing a great job of keeping the puck in the Nashville zone.
3rd Period 00:49 - Nashville Goal (PP): Mike Fisher (backhand) from Roman Josi and Shea Weber
Mike Fisher ruins the almost-shutout by picking up a rebound off Mrazek's pad and waiting for him to lunge at an immediate second chance that doesn't come, lifting it over the sprawling goaltender instead. Nashville takes a very long time getting into the zone, finally doing it on a neutral zone reset as Fisher comes in on the right wing and drops it to Weber. The Predators' captain goes cross-ice to Josi with plenty of space to shoot it The shot is low and bounces through traffice perfectly to Mike Fisher cutting across that area. Mrazek can't recover in time and Fisher has himself a meaningless goal. This one was a pretty fortunate bounce that took advantage of a natural setup of the Wings' PK zone entry defense. No adjustment.
2nd Period 02:04 - Paul Gaustad (holding) against Joakim Andersson: Detroit's 4th line draws a penalty as the refs finally see enough Paul Gaustad holding to actually call him for it. This one is reated by a speedy Glendening rush which gives the Wings a decent scoring opportunity and on Andersson holding his position well as Gaustad falls backward, taking Andersson down. Glendening and Andersson will each get a plus.
2nd Period 14:09 - Riley Sheahan (holding) against Mattias Ekholm: Sheahan sits in the sin bin for loving too much. This happens because Ekholm gainst the zone with speed and turns Quincey outside-inside to threaten a great scoring chance. Sheahan reaches out to slow him down. I'm going to give both Sheahan and Quincey a minus for causing this.
2nd Period 18:17 - Taylor Beck (hooking) against Danny DeKeyser: Beck decides to odelay his stick into the middle of DeKeyser's midsection and sits for it. What a loser, baby. This isn't a drawn penalty. DK is doing his job exactly as he should be and Beck has two turntables and a microphone for brains on this play. No adjustment.
2nd Period 19:55 - Henrik Zetterberg (interference) against James Neal: Despite knowing the guy is a diver, the refs fall for a real doozy on this play and send Zetterberg to the box for James Neal taking a fall. Neal not only skates directly at Zetterberg's back foot and dives, but a few seconds earlier he had cross-checked Zetterberg to the ice behind the play with no call. This is the dangerous kind of narrative reffing. No adjustment.
3rd Period 08:34 - Justin Abdelkader (interference) against Seth Jones: Abby and Jones are skating up ice to get position. Jones takes a step to make sure he gets into Abdelkader's path and Abby falls over the interference. This takes Jones down and gets Abby sent to the box. The only reason this isn't matching penalties is because of the score here. I'm not going to make an adjustment.
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The line matchups were strength against strength in this game, so Datsyuk faced Ribeiro, Sheahan got Fisher, Helm faced Jarnkrok, and Glendening saw Gaustad. Defensively, Riggy and Kronwall spent a big chunk behind the Datsyuk line while the other two pairings split time fairly evenly between the 2nd and 3rd.
Babcock was more about making sure he got line matchups here than zone matches, so as Laviolette sent his top line out there for offensive zone starts, Babcock obliged by handing them to Datsyuk for coverage.
The Corsi numbers aren't terribly important to this one since only about ten minutes' worth of play was considered meaningfully close and the Preds were playing something of a sloppy catch-up game by throwing a lot of garbage to the front that Detroit's defense cleared out pretty well. I don't think anybody had a bad game.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca