The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/14/13 at 09:27 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings headed back to the Motor City to unpack and then re-pack for their trip to Calgary and Vancouver after...Actually earning a 1-0 lead instead of giving up the game's first goal (despite a lackluster first period), actually holding onto said lead, and actually winning a game in regulation, taking a 3-0 decision from the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
At some times--hell, many times--in a rather ridiculously-called rope-and-grab game, the Wings played downright ugly hockey, playing with absolutely no confidence and, if I translated Darren Eliot's 1st period hockey jargon correctly: the Wings had no flow in the offensive zone whatsoever.
Regardless, Jimmy Howard was excellent all game long, stopping 13 shots in the 1st period, a shorthanded breakaway, penalty shot in the 2nd and far too many excellent opportunities generated by an injury-ridden but still dangerous Predators team, and while the Wings did very little with their power plays and did indeed give up a shorthanded breakaway...
Slowly, sometimes painfully slowly, but surely, the Wings found their footing, they started to skate the puck up ice with some speed, sustain offensive pressure, get some "grind time," and, thanks to a gorgeous, Lidstrom-like wide shot by Danny DeKeyser, score the game's first goal when Henrik Zetterberg backhanded what was initially a great grind-and-go by Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Jakub Kindl into the back of the Predators' net, 6:23 into the 2nd.
Not much changed in the 2nd period save the shot clock--the Wings fired 16 shots on Rinne and surrendered 4--and in the 3rd, the game was on the line when Jakub Kindl got called for the penalty whoever the hell it was that hooked Zetterberg on his breakaway didn't, and Bobby Butler received a penalty shot 6:26 in. Thankfully, Butler lost control of the puck on the predictably sloppy Nashville ice, and the Wings dodged one bullet (the others involved Howard shaking off getting kneed accidentally and getting bowled over--sans penalty--by Rich Clune, all while Rinne grabbed Wings players and received a handy assist from a defenseman who grabbed the puck off the top of the net with his hand and held it in the 1st period))...
Before putting two more in the Predators' net. The Wings did sag in the 3rd period--looking like a team that was indeed playing its 3rd game in 4 nights--and the Predators were grinding the puck out down low on more shifts than not, but while the Wings' sporadic play in terms of "getting on the inside" of Predators players or "penetrating the slot" were frustrating to watch, the Wings kept blocking Predators shots and passes in the 3rd period, holding Nashvile to only 5 shots...
And with 2:59 left, a surprisingly spry and speedy Valtteri Filppula used a slick reverse play to get the puck toward Johan Franzen, who stole a giveaway-and-a-half deflection and absolutely roofed the puck over Rinne's shoulder (two points in two games for Franzen and a slick assist for Filppula, who'd'a thunk it?).
The Wings continued to grind things down, and after Rinne'd been pulled, Justin Abdelkader scored his 9th goal in a means similar to his 1st--putting it in an empty net.
Did the Wings lay a beat-down on a contending team? Hell no, they very barely beat a Nashville Predators team that's as banged-up now as the Wings were in February. But they slowly but surely shrugged the sucky play from their performances against San Jose and Chicago out of their games, and they got back into the playoff mix.
The Wings' 47 points are tied with Minnesota and two ahead of Dallas, though the Stars have 1 game in hand and 1 more regulation win...
And now the Wings will take a good day off tomorrow, skate at the Joe on Tuesday, and fly to Calgary for another must-win game, take another day off and fly to Vancouver for another must-win game, and then close their season with a 4-games-in-6-nights slate against Phoenix, LA, the same Predators and then Dallas.
Tonight's win allows the Wings to inch toward the 53-to-55-points = you're in without "help" range, and it allows Wings fans like you and me to breathe easy for the first time in a long time...
If only momentarily.
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here's Howard speaking to the NHL Network. Best FSD quote after the game? "I know a lot of people would like us to miss the playoffs."
Update #2: Here's a slate of highlights narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Shots 32-22 overall. Detroit was out-shot 13-9 in the 1st but out-shot Nashville 16-4 in the 2nd and 7-5 in the 3rd.
Both teams went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time. The refs let a ridiculous amount of penalties go on both sides.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 of 22 shots; Rinne stopped 29 of 31, and the Wings' 32nd shot hit an empty net.
The "Nashville Media" picked the 3 stars, and they were Pekka Rinne, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings' goals: Zetterberg (9) from DeKeyser (1) and Datsyuk (27);
Franzen (9) from Filppula (8) and Cleary (4);
Abdelkader (9) from Zetterberg (29) and Datsyuk (28).
Faceoffs 27-26 (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 22-11 Nashville;
Missed shots 16-8 Detroit (total attempts 70-41 Detroit, with Detroit firing 32 on the net and 40 wide or into Predators players);
Hits 24-16 Nashville;
Giveaways 13-8 Nashville;
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-10 (50%); Filppula went 9-and-7 (56%); Andersson went 5-and-3 (63%); Emmerton went 3-and-4 (43%); Nyquist and Zetterberg lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 7 shots; Franzen had 5; Nyquist had 4; Abdelkader had 3; Kindl, Datsyuk and Colaiacovo had 2; Miller, Tootoo, Brunner and Filppula had 1.
Blocked attempts: Colaiacovo fired 5 shots into Predators players; Kindl, Abdelkader, Nyquist, Brunner and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Cleary, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ericsson, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Brunner missed the net 3 times; Kindl missed the net 2 times; Smith, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Tootoo, Emmerton, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall, Andersson and DeKeyser missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Colaiacovo led the team with 4 hits; Emmerton had 3; Kronwall had 2; Smith, Abdelkader, Cleary, Tootoo, Brunner, Ericsson and DeKeyser had 1.
Giveaways: Cleary and Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Smith, Kindl, Filppula and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl, Cleary, Nyquist, Brunner, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson, Andersson, DeKeyser and Franzen had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 3 Predators shots; Franzen blocked 2; Kindl, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Emmerton, Colaiacovo and DeKeyser had 1.
Penalties taken: Colaiacovo and Franzen took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +15. Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ericsson and Kronwall finished at +2; Kindl, Cleary, Filppula, DeKeyser and Franzen finished at +1.
Points: Datsyuk had 2 assists; Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Abdelkader and Franzen scored goals; Cleary, Filppula and DeKeyser had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:00 played; Ericsson played 22:18; Datsyuk played 19:58;
Kindl played 19:12; Zetterberg played 18:56; DeKeyser played 18:44;
Colaiacovo played 17:42; Franzen played 17:01; Abdelkader played 16:43;
Filppula played 16:42; Cleary played 15:54; Smith played 15:42;
Miller played 14:30; Nyquist played 13:02; Andersson played 12:58;
Brunner played 11:33; Emmerton played 10:52; Tootoo played 9:29.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.