The Red Wings downed Los Angeles 3-1 on Monday night despite getting outshot 43-21. The true key to this victory was the play in net of Jimmy Howard, but there’s not really one save or even a sequence of saves in the 42 he stopped that really qualifies for a breakdown. Howard was positionally solid throughout an entire game in which the Kings were able to get good scoring chances on him. Obviously, some of that is the Kings missing a chance with poor shot selection/placement, but I feel you’d be taking away from a good goaltending performance making such excuses.
With that said, the pay we’ll be breaking down is the first of the game, a Dennis Cholowski snipe:
The play starts behind the Wings’ net as Trevor Daley beats Brendan Leipsic to a dumped-in puck and protects himself along the boards before sweeping the puck to the corner for Cholowski to recover while being chased by Michael Amadio. C-Lo immediately recognizes he has Jacob de la Rose supporting and passes to him rather than risk getting chased into the boards. The Wings break out of the zone as Christoffer Ehn receives the next pass up the right wing side picking up steam and catching Austin Wagner pinching just a little too deep:
The still is from Ehn receiving the pass. You can see Wagner reaching too late to block that lane and he’s caught.
Ehn has Gustav Nyquist up ice having just come on to replace Martin Frk and he has Cholowski joining him thanks to his momentum carrying him up ice while de la Rose is in position to hang back. With only two defenders back, Ehn takes up the center lane drive to take advantage of the 3-on-2 rush created when Wagner gets caught.
As Ehn crosses the LA blue line, Dion Phaneuf and Oscar Fantenberg don’t communicate their coverage well. Phaneuf waits until Ehn’s momentum takes away the immediate threat of Nyquist getting to the net-front before challenging to keep Ehn from a clear drive, but Fantenberg doesn’t slide to adjust to the fact that Cholowski keeps up his speed and paces with Ehn as they enter the zone. By the time he realizes his mistake, Ehn’s pass is on Cholowski’s stick and the rookie D-man is headed toward the net with Jonathan Quick already down and moving; a quick lift to the top corner seals the deal and the Wings take a 1-0 lead.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Jimmy Howard - I just want to say again he had a great game and was the #1 reason Detroit won.
Martin Frk - He was off the ice by the time this goal happened, but his shift leading up to the play was good. He was part of the backchecking pressure which forced the Kings to dump the puck in that Daley retrieved to start this finishing sequence.
Trevor Daley - The way he slowed up before reaching the dumped-in puck to give himself a cushion and make the play to move the puck cleanly to Cholowski is one of those simple good veteran plays.
Jacob de la Rose - Positioned exactly where he was, his clean receipt of the Cholowski pass and quick, crisp pass to Ehn to start the rush shouldn’t be overlooked on this sequence.
Gustav Nyquist - Plays an excellent decoy on this play and is part of the reason Ehn has so much room through center to pick his lane and build speed.
Christoffer Ehn - I really liked the patience he showcased in this rush. Had he made the pass too quickly, he risks either an offsides play or gives the defense more than enough room to angle Cholowski off. Ehn waits until the very last second when the defenders have made their final coverage mistake and then feathers it beautifully to Cholowski.
Dennis Cholowski - The decision on the pass that got he rush started and then confidently joining the play with speed is such a pretty play by the youngster. More of this, please.