I said before the game that tonight’s Red Wings – Blues matchup had all of the elements of a classic letdown and there were times when it looked like it would be.
I thought Detroit carried the play early and Paul Kariya’s opening goal deflated them a bit.
The goal itself wasn’t soft (especially compared to Jay McClement‘s goal in the third) but it was a bit of a breakdown. Kariya split Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski – a rare occurrence – and Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t catch up, then Jimmy Howard got beat five-hole. Three breakdowns on a single play and Kariya is too good not to take advantage of that.
Zetterberg put the team on his back in the second. He pretty much willed Detroit’s first goal in and the second went off his stick before hitting Todd Bertuzzi.
Credit shouldn’t be taken from his linemates, as Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Filppula were the only Red Wings forwards with points on the night. Brian Rafalski also picked up a pair of assists and Howard added one.
The Blues were never out of this game until Filppula scored into the empty net with 12 seconds left. When I was watching the game I felt like both teams were pretty evenly sloppy but the stats show that the Blues had significantly more chances, with St. Louis taking 32 shots to Detroit’s 23.
Aside from the outcome, I think the highlight of the night for Detroit was the second-period four-minute PK with Brad Stuart in the box. St. Louis got off only two shots against a PK unit missing one of its usual defensemen (Stuart) and one of its mainstay forwards (the injured Patrick Eaves). That was an incredibly solid effort by the Wings.
Two bits of bad news on the night…
#2 – LA forced overtime against Colorado, meaning a three-point game for two of the teams in front of Detroit. The Avs and Predators sit two points up on the Wings and the Kings three points up, with varying numbers of games played.