The Red Wings flew into Montreal to finish a back-to-back after squeaking out a win against Buffalo to stay in the playoff race. The Wings are in a point of the season where there are no moral victories and they very much need to beat the hapless Habs in the Bell Centre. Let's see how that goes.
The game started off tight, but with the Wings generally dictating the play up to the first commercial break. The Sheahan line had two pretty good shifts and the fourth line did pretty well for themselves. I thought the top two lines were mostly neutralized at the start. Unfortunately, the Habs got on the boards first as the Habs put pressure on through more than one shift (starting with the Datsyuk line and then going through a line change after a zone clear that got the Glendening line on) and Pacioretty gets a tip-in off a Joel Hanley shot that he's not even looking at. It's a little flukey, but the Wings didn't get back into position through the change.
Following the goal, the Wings responded by allowing the Habs to tilt the ice towards their net. This turned out to be a real bad idea, as it let the Habs go up 2-0 on a rebound picked up by Paul Byron and pitchforked into the net from the mid-slot at 11:25. This goal gets Mrazek the hook, as Howard comes on real quick. Not sure about this call.
Detroit follows this up with Kronwall taking a dumb interference penalty checking a guy about two seconds after having the puck dumped around him. The most-dangerous chance on this PP comes shorthanded as Sheahan gets stoned by Condon after Quincey sets up a breakaway, but the WIngs go right back to being shorthanded on the continuation in their zone as DeKeyser to the box for... interference? I don't know. Abdelkader runs a guy into Howard and then there's a scrum, but I have no clue what DeKeyser did. At any rate, the Wings killed this one too and then started the line blender.
The new lines got into their third shift before Mantha took a hooking call with just under two minutes left to go. Fortunately, the Habs' power play isn't very good and the period ends for the Wings to head into the room and figure shit out.
Score: 2-0 Habs
Standout Players: Marchenko
Tough Period: Ericsson, Datsyuk, Helm, Richards, Quincey, Mrazek, Blashill
The Wings managed to kill off the seven seconds of leftover power play, but not without allowing a scoring chance. Then they clawed over the next five minutes trying to get on the scoreboard; Marchenko pinged the goalpost, but the Habs continued to lead in the shots advantage they built early on. At 8:44, Dylan Larkin got crushed into the boards via Emelin interfering with a player who hadn't touched the puck. Abdelkader drops the gloves and instigates a fight with Emelin in retaliation for the hit. Abby gets an instigator, but Emelin gets a major, so they went 4-on-4 before the Wings' got a PP.
The 4-on-4 doesn't do anything, but the Wings ended up tying it on the PP with two goals. The first came from Nyquist with a snipe from the slot after some real good passing and then Mantha ended a net-front scrum created by a real pretty Datsyuk kick to skate. The Habs couldn't get the puck frozen and big Tony came up big.
After the penalty to Emelin ended, the Wings continued to get chances and then went right back on the PP as Mike Brown decided to cross-check Kronwall about a dozen times until the refs had to call a penalty. They rewarded him by giving him two. During the second of those penalties, the Wings take the lead as Datsyuk & Tatar pass around the top of the zone to set up Mike Green for a snapper past Condon to make it 3-2.
The rest of the period played out more to the Habs' favor, but Detroit took the lead going into the room.
Score: 3-2 Wings
Shots: 19-17 Wings
Standout Players: Datsyuk, Mantha, Green, Nyquist, Sheahan
Tough Period: Abdelkader
The third period started out with a single Wings chance before the Habs score three minutes in on a puck that goes off Ericsson's skate to the middle and ends up with a rebound kicking out to Emelin who scores past the scrum with Mike Brown in the crease. Detroit challenges the goal and the refs overturn it on the interference. Larkin gets a chance off the next shift and then Kronwall tries to give the lead back with a turnover to Mitchell that Howard saves with 16:09 left to go.
At 6:23, the Habs got a power play on a nothing dump-into their zone that Luke Glendening spins and accidentally dumps over the glass. The Habs PP wins the second faceoff of the PP cleanly and Plekanec throws a low pass from the half-wall that Andrighetto tips over Howard to tie it.
The Wings come out creating chances for a bit, but Montreal regains momentum and then at 11:18, they get the Wings chasing around in their own zone and Pacioretty makes them pay at the side of the net with a back door snipe on a feed from Galchenyuk. Detroit responded by pushing and Abdelkader got a golden chance stopped by Condon right in front. Datsyuk created the next chance and Helm got cross-checked. Byron almost salted it from a beautiful feed from Pacioretty, but Howard came up big at 14:25 of the period.
Blashill pulls Howard for the extra skater with 2:15 left and we go to crunch time. The Wings buzz for a bit before Markov and Abdelkader take offsetting penalties with 40 seconds left to take a faceoff to center. Detroit gets the 5-on-4 set and get one great chance, but can't score to tie it and blow a winnable game.
Final Score: 4-3 Canadiens
Shots: 42-27 Red Wings
Standout Players: Mike Brown
Tough Period: Ericsson, Kronwall, Fuck it
- Justin Abdelkader fought and then the Wings turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Whether we want to attribute one to the other, I just want to say I'd rather not have a situation where that's a necessary thing to make the Wings realize they shouldn't play like shit against teams out of the playoffs.
- I guess he should have fought again in the third.
- The Bruins dropping a winnable game against New Jersey let the Wings off the hook to a degree, but the games against the Bruins and Flyers don't feel like they're wins without the team figuring out how to pull in the same direction at the same time.
- Luke Glendening took a needless and unforced penalty with the Red Wings in the lead. Jonathan Ericsson was as bad as he usually is. Kronwall looked partially effective, but I'd rather have had Smith in. Brad Richards has one foot in the hockey grave right now. The sad part is that Athanasiou didn't look that good in this game with the chances he got either.
- I don't want to put this all on the usual suspects because that unfairly lets guys like Quincey, Dekeyser, Tatar, Zetterberg, Helm, and just about everybody else off the hook for a bunch of play that is making the wrong decision at the wrong time, being too slow on decision-making, letting passes bounce off of sticks, soft-tossing passes that make it easier to pick off, and generally not being harder to keep out of the hard areas of the ice.
- I don't know how Jeff Blashill pulls Petr Mrazek out of what he put him into by yanking him after the Habs' second goal, but I'm officially placing this on the coach's hands if it blows up in the Wings' faces. They have to get good goaltending and figure out all the rest of their shit, but I thought the real quick hook was a questionable move and I'm real curious to see if the diggers ask enough questions about this in the two days off coming ahead (hint: they won't).
Player of the Game: Pavel Datsyuk
Next Up: Wings vs. the Wild in Detroit on Friday night.