Despite a frantic end to the game that saw the Red Wings swarming the Canucks net, Roberto Luongo was able to slam the door shut on all but one Wings shot. The NHL’s leading scorer Daniel Sedin added two goals to bring his season total to 40, in a battle of the Western Conference’s top two teams.
Red Wings 1 Canucks 2
This game started a lot like the Penguins game on Monday. Great energy from the Red Wings, led by their role players. Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm were especially effective tonight, particularly early on.
With Datsyuk, Franzen and Bertuzzi out, Abdelkader saw some time on the Wings de-facto top line with Danny Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg.
He was all over the ice, creating scoring chances and getting under the skin of the Canucks players.
Darren Helm drew a penalty on Daniel Sedin while shorthanded, after he won a loose puck battle and used his turbo gear to roar in on Luongo.
He also had a crucial defensive play late in the third, lifting the stick of an attacking Canucks player to thwart a scoring chance.
Jimmy Howard, who was widely criticized for his effort against the Penguins, was much better tonight, turning aside 31 Canucks shots. The first Canucks goal was a centering pass that banked in off of Nick Lidstrom’s skate. The second was with him in full on scramble mode, as the Canucks were on the power play with the Red Wings penalty killers running ragged. Kris Draper had the puck on his stick with all the time in the world to clear it, but instead chipped a weak backhander up the boards that was held in. Brad Stuart was then slewfooted by Ryan Kesler, preventing him from playing the puck. It eventually made it’s way to an uncovered Daniel Sedin, who slammed it off of Howard and in.
Jiri Hudler, playing for the first time after missing three games with the flu and neck and shoulder injuries, scored the Wings only goal by hammering home a Danny Cleary rebound.
With an entire line of forwards out for this game, the injury bug may have struck the defense corps tonight. Brian Rafalski went to the bench late in the third period with an apparent upper body injury, so we’ll keep an eye on that to see if he is going to miss any time. He finished the game, but that doesn’t always mean the player is healthy.
The Wings are now off until a Saturday night matchup vs the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Original 6 battles always make for good hockey, so don’t miss it!
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Justin Abelkader E +/-, 7 SOG, 17:07 TOI
2. Roberto Luongo 39 saves
1. Daniel Sedin 2G, GWG