The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.
After finshing their first four-game Western Canadian road trip since the return of the Winnipeg Jets with a 3-1 record, the Detroit Red Wings returned home this week for rematches with the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames and a visit from the Minnesota Wild.
On Tuesday, Jordan Eberle scored twice to lead the Oilers past the Wings to sweep their home-and-home series. Eberle opened the game’s scoring at 4:25 of the first. Kyle Quincey‘s third goal of the season tied things back up on the power play at 2:36 of the second, but Eberle put the Oilers back out in front with 24 seconds left in the middle frame. Also in the second period, Edmonton defensemen Jeff Petry left the game after taking an elbow to the face from Johan Franzen, for which Franzen was ejected.
The Red Wings rebounded on Friday with a 4-1 win over the Flames, in a game in which all goal-scorers played for Detroit last season. Jiri Hudler scored the game’s opening goal just 1:48 into the first period. Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 5:26 left in the period and the Red Wings never looked back. Pavel Datsyuk put Detroit in front at 8:43 of the second and Valtteri Filppula extended his team scoring lead with 4:55 left in that period. Ian White added his first goal of the season with ten seconds remaining in regulation on the power play to finish off the win.
Howard made 21 saves on 22 shots while Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21 of 25 chances. Todd Bertuzzi left the game with concussion-like symptoms after being boarded by Lee Stempniak late in the third.
With Bertuzzi injured, Cory Emmerton made his first appearance of the season the next night against the Wild, a 4-0 win for Detroit. Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring with 5:31 left in the first period and Mikael Samuelsson made it 2-0 at 9:08 of the third. Samuelsson and Filppula added goals in the final minute to round out the scoring.
Minnesota free agent signings Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, who both spurned contract offers from Detroit over the summer, finished the night -2. Howard made 20 saves in his third shutout of the season. Niklas Backstrom of the Wild made 26 saves on 30 shots.
After five weeks, the Red Wings sit tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals atop the NHL standings. Filppula leads all NHL scorers with 23 points, two more than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. Howard is tied for the league lead in shutouts (three) and wins (10) and second in goals-against average (1.72).
Next week the Red Wings host the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils, then visit the Wild.