The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/25/13 at 09:18 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators began with the team frustrating the hell out of its mostly-full rink's worth of playoff-ready fans at Joe Louis Arena and ended properly, with a standing ovation in the home finale...
And somewhere in between, despite the fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets could force the Wings to beat Dallas outright to earn a playoff spot, the Wings slowly but surely found their form, found themselves and just absolutely dismantled the Nashville Predators.
Early on, it was ugly. Jakub Kindl lost his stick thanks to a referee, Kyle Quincey lost his brain and Mike Fisher scored an early goal 1:49 in, and after Valtteri Filppula tied it (playing like a man who knows his days are numbered)...
the Predators got a kind of chintzy goal thanks to Craig Smith out-battling a very strange penalty-killing tandem in Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser and Jimmy Howard kicking out a rebound he shouldn't have...
But after that, the Wings seemed to remember that they had to play the Predators just as hard as they did the defending Stanley Cup champs on Wednesday, and the Wings got their asses in gear in the second period.
1:01 into the 2nd, Johan Franzen continued reminding us that we must find a way to convince him that it is ALWAYS April, rifling a give-and-go-and-go from Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner past Mason to tie it...
And two minutes later, Patrick Eaves was the beneficiary of a remarkable dangle-and-skate-and-pass play from Jordin Tootoo of all people, scoring the gamer 3:41 into the 2nd.
After that, the Wings had some scary moments, in no small part because Gustav Nyquist took back-to-back penalties (Gus had a rough night), but Jimmy Howard was strong, his penalty-killers, defensemen and forwards began to skate better and provide puck support for each other by skating harder and playing smarter, and when the Wings finally got a power play late in the 2nd, Pavel Datsyuk did this:
Worth watching twice:
Power play. 19:13 of the 2nd. The Wings knew they weren't going to blow this one...
And while the Predators continued to threaten the Wings in the 3rd, and never really gave up--and credit to Nashville for never giving up or bowing out from minutes 1-60 of this game and the Wings-Predators Central Division rivalry--but the Wings started coming in waves in the 3rd, with the Cleary-Filppula-Franzen line, the late-coming but superb Nyquist-Andersson-Brunner line and even the Eaves-Emmerton-Tootoo line playing solid behind Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Abdelkader, Smith and Quincey steadying themselves, Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser looking rock-solid and Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall playing like stalwarts.
As the game wound down, Justin Abdelkader punctuated the Wings' win with a gorgeous Pavel Datsyuk-powered play, depositing the rebound of Henrik Zetterberg's shot past Mason...
And now the Wings have held serve.
There's no reason to put faith and hope in Saturday's opponent, so in realistic terms, the Wings need to win in Dallas on Saturday, and they need to not hope that Nashville can spoil the Blue Jackets' season when Nashville closes its season out in Columbus Saturday, but it looks like this Wings team won't be denied--cue the wonderful Jimmy Howard blocker save...
And that's a good thing for the present and a good thing for the future. The standing ovation the crowd gave the Joe in the closing minute of play was earned, and that's all you can ask for.
Shots 38-22 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Nashville 12-9 in the 1st, 13-6 in the 2nd and 13-7 in the 3rd.
Detroit went 1-for-4 in 5:23 of PP time; Nashville went 1-for-5 in 7:58 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 20 of 22 shots; Chris Mason stopped 33 of 38.
The 3 stars were picked by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, and he picked Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula, in ascending order.
The Wings' goals: Filppula (9) from Franzen (17) and Cleary (6);
Franzen (14) from Brunner (14) and Datsyuk (30);
Eaves (2) from Tootoo (5);
Datsyuk (15) from Zetterberg (35) and Kronwall (24), PPG;
Abdelkader (10) from Zetterberg (36) and Datsyuk (31).
Faceoffs 32-25 Detroit (Detroit won 56%);
Blocked shots 13-4 Nashville;
Missed shots 14-8 Detroit (total attempts 65-34 Detroit, with the Wings firing 38 shots on Mason and 27 wide or into Predators players);
Hits 26-17 Nashville;
Giveaways 15-5 Detroit;
Takeaways 5-4 Detroit.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Filppula went 13-and-8 (81%); Datsyuk went 10-and-10 (50%); Andersson went 5-and-5 (50%); Emmerton went 2-and-5 (39%); Brunner and Zetterberg won their only faceoffs; Nyquist and Franzen lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Zetterberg led the Wings with 5 shots; Eaves, Brunner, Filppula and Franzen had 4; Cleary had 3; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Emmerton Quincey and Ericsson had 2; Kindl and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Brunner hit Predators players 3 times; Kindl and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Nyquist, Eaves, Quincey, Ericsson and Andersson had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Zetterberg and Franzen missed the net 3 times; Filppula missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Nyquist, Eaves, Tootoo, Emmerton and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Ericsson led the team with 6 hits; Smith, Tootoo,Kronwall and DeKeyser had 2; Datsyuk, Emmerton and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 3 giveaways; Smith, Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk and DeKeyser had 2; Tootoo and Andersson had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk, Brunner, Emmerton, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Emmerton and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Nyquist took 3 minors; Abdelkader and Cleary took 1.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +15. Nyquist and Andersson finished at -1; Abdelkader, Cleary, Eaves,Tootoo, Emmerton, Filppula and Kronwall finished at +1; Kindl, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, DeKeyser and Franzen finished at +2.
Points: Datsyuk had a goal and 2 assists for 3 points; Zetterberg had 2 assists; Franzen had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Abdelkader, Eaves and Filppula scored goals; Cleary, Tootoo, Brunner and Kronwall had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 24:06 played; Ericsson played 21:19; Smith played 19:25;
Datsyuk played 18:31; Zetterberg played 18:15; Quincey played 18:11;
DeKeyser played 17:43; Franzen played 17:30; Andersson played 15:55;
Kindl played 15:50; Emmerton played 15:14; Abdelkader played 14:06;
Nyquist played 13:52; Filppula played 13:46; Cleary played 13:28;
Brunner played 12:20; Eaves played 11:20; Tootoo played 9:53.
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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.