The Detroit Red Wings put on an exciting spectacle, but ultimately fall 3-2 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic.
The first period was largely uneventful as both sides acclimated themselves to the snowy conditions on the ice. There were no goals scored, though Detroit held much of the momentum through the period. Shots through twenty minutes ended up 13-5 in favor of the Wings.
The second period is where the offense finally sparked for both sides. At 13:14, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson came into the zone on a clear 2-on-1 opportunity. Instead of shooting, Zetterberg opted to feed a pass over to Alfredsson, who had the puck bounce off the heel of his skate and past Jonathan Bernier for the first goal of the game. Toronto managed to tie it up late on a power play, at 19:23, when Jimmy Howard made a quick save in close, the puck bounced back to a waiting James van Riemsdyk, who elevated it over Howard and in to tie it 1-1 after two periods. Detroit held a distinct advantage in shots 27-18.
The third period was very much like the second, seeing goals from both sides. Toronto struck first early in the period, at 4:41, when Dion Phaneuf let off a shot from the blue line that was deflected down in front of the goal by Tyler Bozak and in to make it a 2-1 game. Detroit would tie it up late, though, at 14:28, when Brendan Smith fed a quick pass from the boards in the corner behind Toronto’s net to a waiting Justin Abdelkader in front, who made a quick backhand to tip the puck past Bernier and make it a tied 2-2 game leaving the third. Shots through regulation were 41-24.
A lack of scoring from either side in overtime, and a badly timed horn in the middle of the frame just as Zetterberg was getting a clear break, led the game into a shootout for the first time since the 2008 Winter Classic. Daniel Alfredsson shot first, coming in wide on Bernier, but losing control of the puck and sending it wide of the net. Van Riemsdyk shot first for Toronto, trying the well-known Forsberg deke on Howard, but he kicked it aside with his toe. Pavel Datsyuk shot next, putting on a quick forehand-backhand move coming in on Bernier, and sending it top corner off his backhand and in for the first goal of the shootout. Joffrey Lupul shot next, making a very quick snap-shot from the middle of the slot that found its way in 5-hole on Howard. Tomas Tatar shot last for Detroit, putting on a few too many moves as he reached the bottom of the slot and lost control of the puck slightly. He tried to hammer it in 5-hole as a last-ditch effort but it was turned aside. It would be Bozak who sealed it for Toronto, going in quick on Howard and sending a quick wrist shot off the inside of the left goal post and in to seal the 3-2 victory. Shots through 65 minutes of play ended at 43-26 for Detroit.
This loss was no one’s fault. It was a steady, exciting game, and the shootout has been a weakness of the Red Wings dating back into last season. Toronto simply came out the better team today, and the Wings will have to learn from the loss, take the one point they earned, and move on to the next game. They’ll get 2 days off and be back at it on Saturday night in Dallas against the Stars. See you then, Nation!