Todd Bertuzzi has been as hot as any one in the league lately, netting 6 goals in his last 4 games headed into this afternoon’s battle with the Minnesota Wild. While he was officially held off the scoreboard today, it was his shootout winner that decided the game in the Red Wings favor.
Red Wings 2 Wild 1 (SO)
There are going to be a lot of games like this for the rest of the season. With the West being so tight – only a few points separate 3rd from 10th – all of those teams will be fighting tooth and nail to get in. Detroit will have to bring their A game, like they did tonight, to fend off those desperate teams.
The Wild are one of those teams (at the time of this writing they are right in the middle of the pack, at 6th place in the West), and they relied on an opportunistic offense and stellar goaltending to hang with the far superior Wings team. Detroit outchanced the Wild all game long, but Niklas Backstrom made save after save to keep them in it, many of them in spectacular fashion.
He robbed Danny Cleary in close in OT. Ditto Pavel Datsyuk. Darren Helm was also stoned. In all, he made 38 saves in regulation and OT, but he was only able to make one out of 3 in the shootout, and the Red Wings came away victorious.
Pavel Datsyuk came in looking like he was gonna pull off this classic move:
Instead, he brought it back across his body and roofed it on the forehand.
After Jimmy Howard made consecutive glove stops on P-M Bouchard and Matt Cullen, and Jiri Hudler blasted a slap shot wide, it was up to Bertuzzi to decide the game.
He took his usual slow, looping approach, and waited..and waited..and waited before lifting the puck up and over Backstrom.
The game-winning goal was even more special because it was Todd Bertuzzi’s 1,000th career NHL game, with his family in attendance. The Red Wings had flown out Todd’s family just for the occasion, on the team plane. To make it even more sweet, Todd was booed from start to finish this afternoon – he was formerly a member of the Vancouver Canucks, a divisional rival of the Minnesota Wild.
Things like flying the family of a team member out for a milestone game like this only accentuates how great an organization the Red Wings are. The Wild made no mention of the feat during the game, which is unusual when such a feat happens in an opponents building. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, in a game in Detroit last week, Michigan native and Boston Bruins rookie Steven Kampfer was made a healthy scratch minutes before the game started, despite the fact that he had bought tickets for 50 friends and family members.
A couple of quick player reviews here before the game stars:
Valtteri Filppula is now on the third line as far as I’m concerned. I really don’t see how you could even think of breaking up the top two lines the way they’re playing now. It’s not a knock against Filppula in any way, he was playing great before the injury, but the top two are on fire.
Brad Stuart led the Wings in ice time tonight, in just his third game back from a broken jaw that sidelined him for 5 weeks. Any questions about this guys importance?
How good is Pavel Datsyuk? Man, oh man, the things he can do out there….
On the same note, Nicklas Lidstrom quietly had another great game. He had the Wings only goal in regulation and made some great defensive plays.
I’m blown away by the progress Jonathan Ericsson has made this year. Hats off to him.
Helm had his most ice time since we started getting players back from injury, clocking in at just over 17 minutes on ice. Good game by the speedster. Abby was the low man in ice time tonight (8:46) but I thought he made the most of his minutes.
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Jimmy Howard 25 Saves – He wasn’t as busy as the man at the opposite end of the sheet but he made some unreal saves, especially early in all three regulation periods, and the shootout.
2. Niklas Backstrom 38 Saves – If it weren’t for him, this game could have been a blow out.
1. Todd Bertuzzi SO Winner – Usually I hate when writers just give whoever scored the OT/SO winner the first star, but tonight I’m making an exception. 1,000th career game, being booed all night, bonus style marks for his SO goal, oh yeah and he had his 700th career point the other day and scored a goal for his kid on his birthday. First star, Todd Bertuzzi, and well earned.