Detroit came into Saturday looking to rebound from a bad loss on Thursday night to one division leader. Things weren't looking to get any easier as they faced another division-leader who was also coming off a loss they'd like to forget. By the end of the day, the Wings had found their shot suppression game again and were able to dominate the Isles on their way to a 4-1 victory.
The reffing standard of a call changed about halfway through this game, but it was decently consistent for both clubs. I thought both teams were victimized by soft calls. Both teams got four chances on the power play. New York scored on one while Detroit got two. Shots were 23-19 in favor of the Isles, who spent a good portion of the game playing from behind.
Petr Mrazek bounced back incredibly from an awful performance in his previous start, making 22 of 23 saves. There were fewer of the high-quality variety than he had been facing recently, but he also did a better job with directing rebounds and challenging shooters. Chad Johnson allowed four goals, but I can't really call any of them soft. Perhaps he'd want the Tatar goal back, but the Wings did a good job of making the most of limited chances.
1st Period 05:29 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Danny DeKeyser
Detroit gets the first of the game as Tatar finds the top corner on a good individual effort on the power play. Datsyuk loses the faceoff to start the PP, but Sheahan and Helm hustle to cut off the immediate clear and instead force Hamonic to play it to de Haan down low for an attempted clear up the boards. DeKeyser punches it down at the blue line to keep it in before feeding it around Nielson to Datsyuk at the half-wall. Pavel Feeds it high to the opposite point where Tatar picks it up and heads deeper in the zone with Grabner watching him. Grabner doesn't have the right angle and Tatar gets around him to get an off-balance shot off from just inside the dot. Johnson has no chance as the puck hits perfectly into the top corner. I'm going to give a plus to DeKeyser for the great keep in, which catches the PKers getting too aggressive up high. Sheahan and Helm will also each get a half-plus for the hustle to prevent an easy clear off the faceoff loss.
2nd Period 19:13 - Detroit Goal: Brendan Smith (slap shot) from Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan
Detroit doubles the lead as Jurco feeds one from behind the net out to Smith for a one-timed blast to the top corner. Detroit dumps the puck in as they complete a change from Datsyuk's line to Sheahan's. Boychuk ends up getting space to bring it from one corner in his zone to the other and tries to catch Detroit in this change with a high saucer pass across the ice to Matt Martin streaking down the left side. Marchenko has already gotten on and is watching the middle of the ice here; Marchenko is able to step into the path of this long outlet and knock it down before playing it up to Sheahan turning right back into the zone he just cleared. Sheahan takes it up the right wing against Leddy, protecting the puck and eventually powering through an attempt to squeeze him off at the boards. This frees Sheahan to make a pass to Jurco with space behind the Islanders' net (Clutterbuck is covering a centering pass lane and Boychuk is posted at the net-front). Jurco gets it and skates out to the side of the net as Clutterbuck chases down to hassle him. As Jurco reaches the icing line, he feeds the puck up through the circle where Smith has jumped off the bench right into the pass. Johnson has no chance as it's wired over the shoulder and in. I'm going to give pluses to both Marchenko and Sheahan here for the smart plays which create both the turnover and the space behind the net.
3rd Period 05:24 - New York Goal (PP): Lubomir Visnovsky (wrist shot) from Frans Nielsen and Brock Nelson
The Isles break the shutout on the power play as Visnovsky gets space in the slot and snaps it over Mrazek's blocker to make it 2-1. Sheahan loses the faceoff and the Isles get an immediate shot from the top-middle of the zone that Mrazek blocks off to the corner. Brock Nelson outraces Ericsson to get to it first along the boards and drags Ericsson a bit up-ice before feeding it back down off the boards to Frans Nielsen skating into the area just-vacated at the half-wall. Kronwall jumps over to watch Nielsen as Sheahan races to the net front in an attempt to prevent a pass to John Tavares at the back door. This leaves a lane to Visnovsky stepping from the point into the slot to receive the pass from Nielsen. Visnovsky delays briefly before snapping it in from a dangerous area. This is a complete team failure by the Wings and a good job by the Isles to take advantage. Sheahan will get a half-minus for the lost faceoff. He's stuck by the time Visnovsky gets it, so there's nothing wrong about his play on the shot that scored. Ericsson will get a minus for keeping up the race to Nelson despite it being clear he was going to lose that. He should have backed off and focused on keeping the puck to the outside there. Glendening will get a minus for also pinching in on Nelson and then not getting back to cover the pass tot he middle. Finally, Kronwall will get a minus for aggressively stepping up on Nielsen despite knowing that this play was essentially a low 3-on-2 rush. Kronwall backing off gives him and Sheahan the ability to force more passes before the Isles got a high-quality shot.
3rd Period 09:21 - Detroit Goal: Jonathan Ericsson (slap shot) unassisted
The Wings get their two goal lead back as Riggy gets a favorable bounce of the net-front traffic. Jurco and Glendening are forechecking low on a dump-in by Ericsson just as a power play is expiring. The Isles are able to get three people in to cover the two forecheckers as the puck is moved slowly from one corner to the other before Strome gets it with a half-second to think and instead tries a simple dump up the boards for a zone clear. Strome has the puck kind of flutter off the heel of his stick where it bounces off the boards straight to Ericsson at the point. While the traffic transitions to the front of the net, Riggy half-slaps it just as it gets there. Glendening and Hickey are crossing just in front of Johnson as he comes out to make the save and the puck hits off Hickey's skate to fool Johnson for the goal. First off, this is called an even-strength goal even though it's scored before de Haan can get back in the play. I'm going to clear the pluses for Jurco, Glendening, Miller, Ericsson, and Quincey by rule. Jurco and Glendening will each earn a half-plus on the forecheck while Ericsson will get a half-plus for the quick smart shot selection. Strome's mistake on the clear helps, but he was pressured into making it. I'm also going to give Glendening a half-screener's assist on this play. He doesn't directly Rob Johnson of his sight, but he drags Hickey into position to make it so Johnson can't make the save.
3rd Period 13:08 - Detroit Goal (PP): Gustav Nyquist (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings make it 4-1 on a power play as Nyquist gets a rebound on the 2nd layer and puts it home. Zetterberg gets it into the Isles' zone on the right side and is immediately set on by two PKers, having the puck knocked off his stick at the blue line. Nyquist steps over from the boards and is able to prevent a clear. This gets the Red Wings set up for an eventual Zetterberg backhand shot that's stopped and just barely cleared away before Weiss can score on the back door. Abdelkader races to pick it up at the half-wall as everybody gets back into their positions. Abby feeds to Weiss so he can get back to the net front while Weiss replaces him at the half-wall and passes to Kronwall up at the point. Kronner takes a few steps to the middle before feeding Zetterberg at the top of the right circle. This time, Z one-times it on net. As Johnson goes down to stop the shot, he watches helplessly as it hits off Nick Leddy's skate straight to the middle where Nyquist is posted. Goose picks it up skate-to-stick and pops it in to complete the scoring. Nyquist will get a half-plus for keeping the puck in the zone after the Isles pinch off the entry. Abdelkader will get a half-plus for his hustle on puck retrieval and net-front play. Weiss also makes a very subtle play on the scoring chance just before it gets fed back up to the top. When the puck is cleared to the corner, he keeps his path to the far post just long enough to keep Grabner from making a quick turn on it. This gives Abdelkader the space to get to it first. It's not quite adjustment-worthy, but it's a smart subtle play.
1st Period 05:17 - Mikhail Grabovski (goaltender interference): Grabo drives the outside trying to get to the front of the net on Mrazek, but has it knocked off his stick by Zetterberg and as he tries to recover, he slams into the goalie, sitting for this transgression. I'm going to give Zetterberg a half-plus for the defensive play that drives Grabovski into the goal without the puck.
1st Period 17:46 - Luke Glendening (goaltender interference): Glendening is playing net-front when Johnson comes out to the edge of his crease to run into him and fall backwards. This call is a bit soft, but Glendening was moving the wrong direction and he made contact with Johnson inside the crease. I'm going to give Glendening a half-minus. It doesn't excuse the flop from Johnson, but Glendening has to be more careful.
2nd Period 13:03 - Jonathan Ericssson (slashing) against John Tavares: The Wings go shorthanded again as Riggy is trying to play tough defense against an aggressively-forechecking Tavares in the corner of the Wings' zone. Ericsson chops Tavares in the glove and goes to the box. This will earn Ericsson a minus.
2nd Period 15:10 - Detroit Bench (too many men): The Wings are so excited about getting another skater out after killing off the Ericsson penalty that they put two out instead while he's still in the box. This is insanely stupid. I'd give Babcock a minus if those things mattered. No adjustment.
3rd Period 05:14 - Brendan Smith (interference) against Cal Clutterbuck: Smith backs into his own zone as Clutterbuck pretends that he's being interfered with. This isn't a good call. Smith is under no requirement to actually get out of a guy's way after having established his line of movement. No adjustment.
3rd Period 07:18 - Calvin de Haan (holding) against Tomas Tatar: The Wings get a power play as the refs decide it was their turn to get a chance. New york is buzzing in the Wings' end, but Tatar falls as he goes after a loose puck on the boards and de Haan gets a pretty weak penalty call. No adjustment. This isn't a drawn call.
3rd Period 10:01 - Gustav Nyquist (hooking) and Brock Nelson (diving): Nyquis puts his stick out on an Islanders' zone entry to slow his man down and Nelson goes down like he was shot. No adjustment.
3rd Period 11:21 - Travis Hamonic (hooking) against Henrik Zetterberg: The Wings get a break up ice on a 4-on-4 as Abdelkader chugs up the left wing with the puck. Zetterberg is behind him , but has a step on Hamonic getting back. Hamonic reaches out to slow Z down and takes a penalty. I'm going to give Zetterberg and Abdelkader each a half-plus for creating this.
3rd Period 18:22 - Matt Martin (roughing) against Brendan Smith: Martin is throwing a temper tantrum, which he completes by sucker-punching Smith in the face with a gloved fist. Smith refuses to retaliate and Martin sits. I'm going to give Smith a plus here for his patience. It's a hard lesson for a kid with too many stupid fights to his name this year.
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The possession numbers in this game are skewed by the score effects, as things were pretty even until two straight penalties by the Wings in the second half of the second period started goofing with things just before the Red Wings took that late 2nd period two-goal lead. It's weird to see how much the Datsyuk line was outpossessed by the Tavares line, as that doesn't match well with what I thought of the eye test. In the last game, I asked for more out of Zetterberg's line and they delivered. Sheahan's line essentially held their own and the fourth line was thoroughly outplayed at even strength by New York's fourth.
Well this helps partially mitigate Datsyuk's struggles against Tavares.
Despite a 4-1 score, this game was anybody's to win right up until Ericsson's 3-1 goal. I like the Wings getting back to their own style of play and thought they handled themselves tighter. Marchenko was quiet in a good way in this game and I thought the defense did a pretty good job. The key here was how well the Wings put on pressure in the neutral zone to prevent the Isles from getting cleaner zone entries.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca