The Wings headed into Nashville for a Saturday afternoon romp against the team with the best record in hockey having already had a successful road trip but looking for some gravy. By the end of 60, the Nashville Predators were no longer one of the teams to not have lost back-to-back games in regulation. I'm simultaneously annoyed by how often this gets brought up and tickled by the fact that we won that useless stat category. 4-3 Wings.
The reffing was atrocious in this game. Two guys saying mean things to each other got sent, but various cross-checks went uncalled and an obvious elbow got called a high-sticking. Detroit went 1-for-5 on the power play and Nashville 1-for-4. Detroit got outshot 40-25, which I hear is bad.
Jonas Gustavsson gave up three goals and was absolutely pants-shittingly terrifying hanging onto the lead late, but I love him because he got the job done. It's probably because every time he gave up a goal the Nashville crowd jeered Jimmy Howard. Pekka Rinne gave up four goals because he is not as good as Carey Price.
1st Period 07:22 - Detroit Goal: Brendan Smith (wrist shot) from Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller
Detroit finds the net first as Smith jumps up on a rush and snaps a roofer past Rinne. Smith fights off a forechecker to get control of a dump-in that he puts behind his own net to DeKeyser for a ring up the boards away from the main forechecking pressure. Ekholm holds at the blue line, but Weiss is able to jam it by him to center where Miller is behind him. Before Miller can get going, Craig Smith gets to him to put him into the boards. Miller responds by throwing a one-handed backhand pass forward where Andersson skates into it at the blue line with only Seth Jones back. Andersson gains the blue line and gets to the faceoff circle with Jones backing off having to respect Weiss pushing the center lane late with two Predators defenders on him. As Andersson pulls up and Weiss crosses over, Joker finds Smith trailing in from the right side of the center lane with a beautiful pass. Smith is able to walk into the slot and release a wrister that is deflected off a Nashville stick and into the top corner. I'm going to give Smith a plus for breaking the Nashville rush one way and then finishing Detroit's the other. I'm going to give Weiss, Miller, and Andersson all half-pluses on smart work to get this puck up ice and eventually onto Smith's stick.
2nd Period 02:03 - Detroit Goal: Drew Miller (wrist shot) from Tomas Jurco
Detroit makes it 2-0 on an odd-man rush that he sneaks inside the elbow of Pekka Rinne. On the 4-on-4, Seth Jones gets aggressive trying to turn the corner on Jonathan Ericsson and gets a backhand shot off from low in the circle that Gustavsson fights off before Riggy rides Jones off behind the net. Jurco is in perfect backchecking position in front of Filip Forsberg and is able to get to it first. Forsberg steps up, but Jurco plays it up off the boards to Drew Miller turning and heading up ice. Jurco has his momentum going the right way so he gets to step around Forsberg and join the rush up ice against Josi in a 2-on-1. Josi cheats pretty far over to Jurco as Miller crosses the blue line and is able to get to the inside of the dot before snapping a shot that trickles through Rinne. Jurco will get a plus for the great work in turning defensive responsibility into an odd-man rush.
2nd Period 02:33 - Nashville Goal: Matt Cullen (wrist shot) from Craig Smith and Roman Josi
Nashville gets one back 30 seconds later as Cullen picks a loose puck out of the crease and slams it in. Pavel Datsyuk loses a defensive zone faceoff that gets back to Josi at the point for a lob-wrister in on net that Craig Smith tips just as it gets to Gustavsson, preventing the goalie from catching it. This works out as Matt Cullen has inside position on Datsyuk at the front of the net. Cullen is able to find the loose puck in the crease and slam it in. I'm going to clear Smith, DeKeyser, Tatar, and Weiss. Datsyuk will get a half-minus for the lost faceoff and a full minus for the net-front coverage. This all happens pretty fast, but the defensive positioning by the guys even partially involved in the play is good enough to turn this into a 1-on-1 battle that Datsyuk simply loses.
2nd Period 06:02 - Nashville Goal: Mike Fisher (snap shot) from Cody Franson and Matt Cullen
Nashville gets a bounce off the end boards that Fisher finishes. Ekholm carries it in along the boards until being run off and forced to dump it behind the net where Cullen rushes to forecheck. Sheahan blocks an attempt to poke it deeper behind the net and Smith comes into help, but the puck goes between his feet and Cullen is able to sweep it to the far side half-wall before Smith can recover. Franson picks it up at the point and waits for a bit while things rearrange low in the zone before firing it intentionally wide of the net. Smith is holding off Cullen at the side of the net as it bounces off the boards. Cullen shields Smith off and lets the puck go right by him knowing that it's headed for the front of the net. Fisher is just stepping around a bit of a pick right in the slot and is able to get to the puck first, slamming it in over Gustavsson. Abdelkader and DeKeyser will be cleared here as they're playing the positions they need to play this entire time. Sheahan gets a bit unlucky twice in that his good play against Cullen on the boards and the positioning he's in on the Franson shot gets him caught by Craig Smith and DeKeyser battling in the slot, but he'll keep his minus. Nyquist lets the sweep-away from Cullen get by him up to Franson as it goes right by his skate. Nyquist will keep his minus, but forcing a wide shot is the right play. Smith will earn a minus for his coverage here as losing the puck in his skates and then not blocking the rebound off the end boards are both on him.
2nd Period 16:08 - Nashvile Goal (PP): Shea Weber (slapshot) from Mike Ribiero and Roman Josi
Nashville gets the lead on a 4-on-3 power play as Weber blasts it from up high. Kronwall makes a good step-up on Ribiero as he enters the zone to free the puck for Glendening, but the Wings' PKers are defeated by a lucky bounce off a stanchion which allows Shea Weber to keep the puck in. From that point, it's a matter of the 4-on-3 PP moving around the edges of the PK triangle until they can get Weber set up for a one-timer. I'm not going to give Glendening a minus for a fluke bounce. No adjustment on this play.
3rd Period 03:56 - Detroit Goal: Alexey Marchenko (wrist shot) from Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall
Detroit ties it at 4-on-4 as Marchenko snipes one right by Rinne's ear on a jump-in. Ekholm takes a puck from Sheahan and starts out of the Preds' zone but gets chased down and lets the puck get away from him to Marchenko who plays a give-and-go with Kronwall before dropping it to Nyquist off the bench. Goose passes to Abdelkader on the right wing side to enter the zone and follow him to give a little bit of space. As Abdelkader is pressured by Ribiero, he bounces it behind him off the boards to Marchenko who finishes the setup with an immediate cross-ice pass to Kronwall on the left point. Kronwall feints a trip down the wall before backing up and sliding slightly to the interior to change the angle on James Neal coming his way. By now, Abdelkader is circling off the wall to the slot with space in front of his defender. Kronwall threads a pass to Abby facing away from the goal. Abby collects it just long enough to throw a backhand pass to the top of the circle where the puck meets Marchenko jumping down from the point. Marchy slides to the dot and zaps it into the net for the game-tying goal. This is a beautiful setup by this line to make and use the space they get responsibly. Kronwall, Abdelkader, and Marchenko will each get a half-plus for the tic-tac-toe nature of the play which keeps the defense at bay.
3rd Period 09:06 - Detroit Goal (PP): Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings take a lead as Tatar has a centering pass bounce into the net beautifully. Nashville gets a clear as Tatar dangles to the net-front and just loses it before getting a shot off. Kronwall gets to it at center ice and backs to his blue line while the team clears the zone. Datsyuk comes out and picks up the pass from Kronwall before circling back into the zone under Nystrom and in front of Weber and Josi while Gaustad rushes to change. Datsyuk has Abdelkader to his left and Tatar to his immediate right on this zone entry, which crosses in before Gaustad is at the Nashville bench, forcing the defense to stay back. This turns out to be deadly for the Preds' PK. Datsyuk reads that Weber is cheating a little bit to make sure that the lane to Abdelkader is closed. Abby is not moving with the same momentum as his teammates, so Weber slows his momentum too, allowing this 3-on-2 to turn into a 2-on-1 with Pavs & Tats against Josi. Datsyuk passes it to Tatar before Josi gets his stick forward into the lane, allowing Tatar to power around to the inside of the right faceoff dot while Datsyuk gets the inside lane on Weber to the back post. Tatar gets low to the side of the net and throws a backhand saucer pass to the front. Josi is reaching out with his stick and tips it in past Rinne as the goalie moves post-to-post. This is a big mistake by Nashville's PK to allow this zone entry and ends with Josi having to make a play he'd rather not have to try. If Gaustad were as burned as he was and absolutely had to change, Nystrom should not have been as high in the neutral zone as he was. Credit to Datsyuk and Tatar for taking advantage of these errors, but no adjustment.
1st Period 19:48 - Mike Ribeiro and Luke Glendening (roughing): The Wings get some great scoring chances in front that end when Rinne freezes a puck. The Preds goon it up in front of their goal and the refs take one player from each team to get people to calm down. No adjustment.
2nd Period 08:17 - Jakub Kindl (hooking) against Mike Santorelli: Nashville splits the defense to get Santorelli in for a chance. The ref calls a penalty because Santorelli doesn't score. Kindl didn't actually hook his man, so he won't get punished, but Gustav Nyquist is going to get a half-minus for losing the puck at the offensive blue line and creating the break.
2nd Period 11:28 - Roman Josi (interference) against Justin Abdelkader: Josi wrangles Abdelkader all over the ice and finally gets a call for it. Abdelkader will get a plus.
2nd Period 14:11 - Colin Wilson & Tomas Tatar (meanness): Two guys get chippy before a faceoff and the refs sends them both off. Whatever. No adjustment.
2nd Period 15:16 - Brendan Smith (holding) against Filip Forsberg: Smith loses a puck deep and then reaches out with a free hand to slow Forsberg down. Easy call to make. Minus for Smith.
3rd Period 02:02 - Brendan Smith (tripping) and Filip Forsberg (diving): Forsberg should have gotten the only penalty here. No adjustment.
3rd Period 08:07 - Mike Fisher (tripping) against Justin Abdelkader: Fisher does what he's been doing all day and takes Abdelkader's skate out from under him. This time he gets called for it. Abdelkader will get a half-plus for good body positioning.
3rd Period 09:42 - James Neal (high sticking) against Brendan Smith: Neal elbows Smith in the head and gets a high-sticking penalty for it. No adjustment. This is insanely dirty, but it's Neal being Neal. Not a drawn call.
3rd Period 13:57 - Brendan Smith (interference) against Mike Fisher: Smitty sticks his ass in the way of Fisher on the way to the front of the net and sits for it. Smith will get a minus.
3rd Period 17:17 - Riley Sheahan (tripping.) against Matt Cullen: Detroit takes a late penalty after failing to score on a 3-on-1 rush. Sheahan gets mugged and somehow takes the penalty for it. No adjustment. This is a bad call.
3rd Period 19:37 - James Neal (slashing) against Brendan Smith: Neal chops down on Smitty's stick and ruins the comeback. No adjustment but hahahahahha.
3rd Period 19:50 - Pekka Rinne (tripping) against Joakim Andersson: Rinne sticks a leg out at the blue line to keep Andersson from getting to a loose puck. Andersson will get a plus for drawing this.
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Believe it or not, the Wings won the even-strength Corsi battle (although they lost by Fenwick). Datsyuk's line weren't slowed much by Weber and Josi and they beat up on Gaustad, but were limited in secondary matchups against Neal and Ribiero. The rest of the line matchups didn't go so amazingly, but Weiss definitely met the eyeball test.
Both teams matched the lines to the zone starts in this one. It worked better for Detroit.
This game could have gone any of a dozen ways. I thought Jurco was better than his numbers and the line with him and Pulkkinen created absolute havoc. Weiss made some incredible passes and I thought the game-winning goal scorer was kind of bad with the puck at even strength. Gustav Nyquist could have gone goat or hero in this one as well if not for a few bounces. Defensively, I thought the blueliners handled themselves pretty well. Smith was all over the place and Kindl didn't look good on the power play, but at even strength, things were more good than bad.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca