After a very long road trip, it's almost expected that a team has a bit of a letdown in their first home game back. The Red Wings had an extremely successful swing through the Western Conference, beating Chicago, Dallas, San Jose and Nashville. For the first time in over 2 weeks, Detroit got to see their heroes in red face off against the Rangers, one of the top teams in the East.
What transpired was nothing short of a fantastic game. Both teams got phenomenal performances from their goaltenders, but it was the Wings who came out on top thanks to an OT goal from Marek Zidlicky, giving them 2 important points in their quest to keep pace in the Atlantic.
In the first period, the Wings scored on the Ericssonest goal ever. After pinching to keep a puck in at the blue line, he fanned on his shot, but it went right to Henrik Zetterberg. He fed a beautiful pass to Justin Abdelkader who may or may not have kicked it in the net, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead. However, the Rangers took over the period with rush after rush, and controlling the puck led to the Wings taking a pair of penalties. On the second one, a confluence of bounces led to Dan Girardi poking a loose puck past Jimmy Howard, tying the game at 1.
The second period didn't contain any scoring, but it did see the Rangers continue their onslaught on the Wings' net. Outshooting Detroit 16-7, the Rangers came in waves, seemingly spending more than half of the period in the Wings' zone. Marc Staal hit the crossbar and the Rangers just kept coming. Jimmy Howard was more than up to the task and kept things tied. The third was a more even affair, with the Wings controlling more of the play than in the first 40 minutes, but didn't have anything to show for it. They did get a power play early but didn't do anything, and the Rangers were given one later and didn't do anything. Jimmy Howard and Cam Talbot were both outstanding, stopping shot after shot in an outstanding goaltenders duel. Very late in the third, the teams went 4-on-4 when Abdelkader hooked Derick Brassard, who reacted by slashing Abby's stick out of his hands. Then Derek Stepan showed Gustav Nyquist how much he likes him by hugging him, and the Wings were back on the power play to end the third. Early in OT, a loose puck was shot by newcomer Marek Zidlicky, and somehow found its way across the goal line, and the Wings won the game and the trade deadline because no other deadline day acquisition scored an OT winner in his first game.
- Not for nothing, but Teemu Pulkkinen had a hat trick for Grand Rapids tonight.
- Eye test tells me that 1st and 2nd line were miles better than 3rd/4th line. The war-on-ice charts support that. The 4th line was particularly brutal, not registering a SHOT ATTEMPT until the third period. That's not acceptable against any team ever. To show what sort of domination the Rangers had for most of the game, only 4 players were not negative Corsi players tonight: Datsyuk, Tatar, Jurco and Zidlicky.
- On the Rangers side, the Nash/Zuccarello/Brassard line absolutely obliterated the Wings at evens. If Wings/Rangers ends up being a playoff series, Mike Babcock is going to have to do something to neutralize that line because they could easily have had 3-4 goals tonight.
- Marek Zidlicky took a penalty that should have been a dive, but overall played an ok game. There was definitely some feeling out with Brendan Smith, especially in their own zone when they were trying to play pitch and catch with the puck. Then he scored the game-winning goal in overtime and was declared the greatest deadline deal by Ken Holland ever.
- Same with Erik Cole, who was decent game but was definitely adjusting to being on a new team with new linemates. He was noticeable coming back defensively and he showed a willingness to go to the net at times. We would have liked to have seen him more on the power play, but that would have required the referees to call a good game. However, he gave a fantastic interview after the game was over on NBC, and I highly suggest you check it out on NHLN tomorrow at some point.
- I won't mention the refs only to say that once again, the standard was set early when they let a lot go for both teams, and then everything gets called at the end. I've said it once if I've said it a thousand times: just be consistent and then no one can be upset.
- If the Wings had a right-handed shooting defenseman play on the power play all season, they'd score eleventy billion goals.
- Finally, huge props to Jimmy Howard, who was the only reason the Wings were in the game at all. He was spectacular tonight, limiting rebounds, tracking the puck extremely well, and getting a little bit of help from the posts. After a lackluster road trip in which he was good but not great, this was a fantastic bounce-back game for him, making 39 saves and earning the first star.