The Red Wings outlast a 3rd period barrage and hand the Avalanche their 12th straight road loss, beating them 3-2.
The Red Wings came out in the first and looked a complete 180 than what they did yesterday afternoon. They kept the pressure up all period and made very very few defensive mistakes, keeping the Avalanche off the board the entire period. Justin Abdelkader opened the scoring in the game at 15:57 of the period, batting in an airborne puck off of a shot from Johan Franzen. Niklas Kronwall also assisted on Abdelkader’s 7th of the season. The hits were flying from both sides through the entire period. Colorado thought they could take physical advantage of a banged-up Wings team coming off an embarrassing loss, but they responded in kind and didn’t let up.
The Wings continued the great play into the second, and had their power play convert once again. Daniel Cleary tipped in his 8th of the season at 6:28, off of a centered pass from Franzen behind the net. Pavel Datsyuk also assisted on the goal. It’s also noteworthy to state that half of Cleary’s goals this season have come on the power play. Their next goal was a remarkable one, in more than one way. Damien Brunner broke his 16-game goal drought, off of a spectacular pass from Gustav Nyquist, who fought to get the pass off the whole way, after being dogpiled on by an Avs player. Brunner’s 11th of the season came at 9:56 of the period. The Avalanche then pulled Semyon Varlamov and put Sean-Sebastien Giguere to finish off the period.
Colorado found a little life heading into the 3rd. They dictated much of the tempo for the first few minutes and caused Detroit to take a soft penalty to Jakub Kindl for slashing. They would convert on the penalty, in a somewhat questionable power play goal. With an Avs player knocking down one of the Wings’ players into Jimmy Howard, he was unable to get to his feet to get to the other side of the net, and Jamie McGinn was able to wrist home the Avalanche’s first goal of the game at 5:52. With only minutes left in the game, the Avalanche pulled Giguere to make it 6-on-5, and would capitalize on a bad clearing attempt by the Wings at 18:42, as Matt Duchene cut the Red Wings’ lead to just one goal, 3-2. With only 7 seconds left in the game, Jimmy Howard came up with the save of the game, to keep it 3-2, and let the Red Wings take the game.
The third period was close all the way down to the wire, and Damien Brunner would come up with the game-winning goal, fitting for his first goal in so long.
The Good: The penalty kill, while giving up one questionable goal, still looks good regardless of the recent power play struggles. This comes from great puck recovery in front of the net, and, of course, great play by Jimmy Howard himself.
The Bad: They’re still giving up timely turnovers in their own end and the neutral zone which turn into sudden scoring chances for the opposition. Puck control has to be at a premium in these tightly-contested games where every point matters.
The Remarkable: Even without Zetterberg, Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Helm, Quincey, and Lashoff, the team is still able to manage the type of play they did tonight. Who knows, maybe the Red Wings could be another low-seeded juggernaut in the playoffs like the Kings were last year.
They’ll see two days off before heading back into the desert to face the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, and will then play this same Avalanche team again on Friday.