There was something a little sweeter about this one. When Pavel Datsyuk showed off a little bit of his classic dangle dangle, and then went snipe snipe for good measure, and the crowd roared in approval of the Red Wings first victory in March…there was something a little magical about it. Join me after the jump and I’ll explain a little of the magic to you…
Red Wings 2 Oilers 1 (OT)
Tonight’s game was a special one for many reasons, but not the least of which was an event that saw hundreds of people from literally every corner of North America (plus one from Europe) come together for one reason: Red Wings hockey.
Okay…maybe two reasons. All told, this group of fans raised over $14,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and that is a number that every Wings fan should be proud of. In the hardest of economic times, this group found it in themselves to give, and give generously, and to a great cause no less.
This group of fans, which consists mainly of those in the Red Wings blogosphere and the people who read our sites, started out the evening with an excellent party at the Hockeytown Cafe.
I want to thank Chris Hollis, who in addition to being one of the key players in organizing H2H2, was also the first one to welcome me to the party. Thanks Chris, for making me feel welcome.
Thanks to Michael Petrella, Hollis’ partner in crime at The Production Line. Without these two guys, none of this would have happened.
I know I’ll be forgetting plenty of other people who played major roles in making this all possible, but I’d be doing her a great disservice not to mention Jennifer Macrostie as well. Thank you Jennifer for making H2H2 a success.
I got to meet some amazing people tonight, including a guy who came all the way from Norway. Anders (or better known as Andy from Fight Night at the Joe) really personifies the Red Wings motto, Hockeytown: No Limits.
George Malik had plenty to say about the difficulty of border crossing.
Tyler and Brent of The Triple Deke are as funny as advertised, and we discussed the benefits to living in Windsor, why I can get to games faster than they can as Michiganders, and apparently I now have an open invitation to come up and see a Plymouth Whalers game…Tyler I WILL hold you to that.
Thanks to everyone who made it a special night, and who helped to raise such an outstanding total for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. On to the game recap!
The Wings needed this win in the worst way possible. I don’t think there is any way you could overvalue what the Red Wings were able to accomplish in the final minute of regulation and in the overtime period. They needed those two points like nothing we’ve seen yet this season.
They were on a four game losing streak, including a heart-breaking overtime penalty shot loss to Anaheim, a late game collapse to lose a 3 goal lead to Phoenix and a game against the Los Angeles Kings where they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Jonathan Quick and could put nary a dent in his armor.
It’s a little dramatic to say that this was a must-win game, considering the Wings are safely in a playoff position with a few weeks to go in the season, but this was about as close as it will get to that level of desperation until the playoffs start.
With a good portion of the Red Wings fan base already in panic mode over the losing streak, and the worst team in the league coming into their building, a win was absolutely necessary.
If it weren’t for some late game heroics by the team’s leaders and an outstanding performance between the pipes by James Howard, the game could have easily slipped away.
The first period seemed to be a feeling out process by Detroit, as they seemed far more tentative than they should have been against a team they should beat 9 times out of 10.
Sloppy play in their own end led to a couple of breakaway chances early in the period that were turned away by Howard. The third such chance was one by Ryan Jones, just minutes after Howard had stoned him on a similar opportunity.
Jones didn’t get quite the shot off that he would have liked, but it seemed to catch Howard off guard as it trickled through his pads and across the goal line. All in all, not a good goal for Howard to give up. With the way things have been going, that could have been the straw breaking the camel’s back and the start of a long night at the Joe.
Instead, Howard used that goal against as motivation and turned aside the other 26 shots he faced in the game, including far too many huge saves on quality scoring chances. The Red Wings were extremely lax with the puck and Howard bailed them out constantly until they started to get it going towards the end of the second period.
It was a Holmstrom penalty late in the second period that turned the tide in the Wings’ favor, strangely enough. The Wings successfully killed off the penalty and in fact had quite a bit of puck possession time and some scoring chances.
Shortly after the penalty expired, the Wings seemed to have tied it up on a Nicklas Lidstrom point shot. The Joe, which had worked itself up to a feverish pitch, came crashing back down when the ominous words came over the speakers…”The play is under review…”
That was followed by mass confusion, as it didn’t appear to have been knocked in with a high stick, and there was certainly no goaltender interference or crease violations on the play. They then showed a replay, focusing on Todd Bertuzzi skating past the net, and my confusion subsided. Todd Bertuzzi had actually swatted the puck into the net with his hand, which is against the rules of course.
When the ruling came back as no-goal, there were a lot of unhappy campers, but for what it’s worth, they got the call right.
The no-goal sparked the Wings to a much better third period, as they completely took it to the Oilers in the third, outshooting them 17-7.
Major credit goes to the penalty kill unit, which was perfect on the night including a four minute double minor to Drew Miller for high-sticking.
It took until there was only 25 seconds left on the clock for Detroit to finally legally put a puck in the net, but boy did they make the wait worth it. Nicklas Lidstrom’s point shot deflected off of Andrew Cogliano this time and slipped past Devan Dubnyk and into the net.
This goal set the stage for Pavel Datsyuk’s game winning tally,and the celebration that ensued. It was vitally important, if only from a confidence standpoint, for the Wings to emerge victorious tonight. Look for them to carry their momentum into a divisional showdown with St. Louis tomorrow.
A couple quick observations from the game:
Devan Dubnyk is huge, absolutely huge. He stands all of 6’6″, and very nearly stole the game for the Oilers. The Wings tried some creative ways to avoid shooting into his massive frame, like elevating pucks from sharp angles down low, but to no avail. In the end, two pucks that eluded him (both Lidstrom point shots) came as a result of deflections. The Datsyuk goal was just a laser beam that no goalie is going to stop.
Ladislav Smid is a player whose game I never appreciated until getting to see him live tonight. The best word I can think of to describe him is abrasive. He was constantly getting under the skin of Red Wings players and trying to bait them into taking a penalty. He was really, really effective I thought.
Ryan Jones was the Oilers best forward. He had a bunch of scoring chances, netted their only goal, and threw his weight around.
I thought Jakub Kindl had a fantastic game, especially early on covering for his partner, Ruslan Salei, who had a tough night. Jonathan Ericsson was also guilty of a handful of bad, bad turnovers. I also thought Niklas Kronwall played a very sound game, which is something I don’t say about him often.
The refereeing tonight was…strange. Not bad, but strange. There were at least four penalties where the offending team had possession of the puck for several seconds without the whistle being blown, only to have the non-offending team recover the puck and create a scoring chance. The linesmen had a tough time getting the whistles up to their mouths quickly too, because there were a couple of icings and offsides where the whistle came in way late. I thought they got the majority of the calls right, but they were very slow in doing so. Very strange game by the men in stripes. Also, please don’t boo the officials when Toronto sends down a no-goal ruling against the Wings. They didn’t make the decision, the war room in Toronto did. Call them and complain if you must.
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Nicklas Lidstrom 1G – We thought he tied the game in the last minute of the second, but almost exactly 20 minutes later he did tie it up and send it to overtime.
2. Jimmy Howard 26 saves – Will he want the Oilers only goal back? Sure. Did he make plenty more saves to make up for that one? You bet.
1. Devan Dubnyk 42 saves - He may not have made as many highlight reel stops as Howard, but the sheer number of pucks he stopped is worthy of this position.