Photo Credit: Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports
There was a chance that the Anaheim Ducks weren’t even going to be able to show up for tonight’s game. With snowmageddon hitting Washington, DC yesterday evening, the team begged and pleaded with the NHL to move up the start time of the game so they’d have a fighting chance of skipping down before two feet of the cold powdery white stuff got in the way of their ride to Hockeytown. The league obliged, though the Wings probably wished that they didn’t, as the end result was a 4-3 loss for the home side.
This game started off on a high note that, in hindsight, was a little too good to be true. Just over a minute into the first, Darren Helm was the recipient of a brilliant stretch pass from Brendan Smith, which he turned into a breakaway and a dipsie-doodle past John Gibson to open the scoring. The lead didn’t last long, though; after Andrew Cogliano survived a hectic battle along the boards, Ryan Kesler snuck through Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader to pot an equalizer. To add insult to injury, Corey Perry took advantage of a play that started with a rare Pavel Datsyuk turnover and turned into a go-ahead goal.
In the second period, the Wings once again capitalized off a breakaway, though, in Thomas Jurco’s case, he wasn’t as in the clear as Helm. Gustav Nyqvist sent him a pass in the offensive zone that would have been too far to catch for most, but Jurco used his reach to retain it and begin a nice move that culminated in an equalizer. It was the only goal of the second period and was the closest the game got for the rest of the night.
As the game progressed, the Ducks started to flood the offensive zone; especially once Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green took a pair of penalties within minutes of each other. While they escaped those unscathed, it created a sense of moment for their opponents, and once again, both Perry and Kesler found themselves on the scoresheet early in the third period. Danny DeKeyser led Detroit’s last push with a minute and a half to go, wiring a slapshot from long distance past Gibson, but that was as close as they got before the buzzer sounded.
In the ends, this was a game that the Red Wings never really had control of. The opening goal was nice, but the Ducks were continuously in Detroit’s zone generating pressure and preventing the boys in red from making their own statement on the scoresheet. The first two Red Wings goals were incredibly opportunistic, leaving you to wonder how this game should have ended up. It’s one that they’ll have to clear out of their memories sooner than later, no doubt.
I’ll give a bit of credit to Brendan Smith tonight; with Niklas Kronwall out, the team is looking for the other defencemen to step up in a big way, and he was positively noticeable. The long pass to Helm that created the first goal was brilliant, he picked up a secondary assist on the Jurco tally, and was the team’s best possession defenceman on a night where the team largely struggled. He even blocked a pair of shots for good measure; that’s a relatively respectable night out if I’ve ever seen one.
This was Jimmy Howard’s first game in the lineup in nearly two weeks and at times, the rust showed. The final two goals were ones that I thought he should have had. Clear shots with ample enough distance for him to react, even if the second Kesler goal was made possible by Detroit’s skaters suddenly freezing up. I wouldn’t go as far as to put any blame on him for the final result, though; the team has to be better before they point those types of fingers.
See You Next Time
The Wings have one more game to go before the All-Star Break, and it’s coming quicker than you’d expect; Detroit has just one day off before facing the Islanders on Monday night. It’s a road game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre, so make sure to pull out your most obscure jersey! Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.