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.
The Detroit Red Wings went 1-2 on a Christmas week road trip, dropping them out of first place in the Central Division heading into the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
Opening their trip in Raleigh on Wednesday, the Red Wings rallied late for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes got on the board with a Drayson Bowman goal at 6:30 of the second and made it 2-0 with 1:29 left in the period on a Jamie McBain tally. Pavel Datsyuk cut the lead in half at 3:10 of the third but Eric Staal made it 3-1 at 4:41. Johan Franzen put the Wings back within a goal while shorthanded at 7:27 and Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 8:21 left in the period. Jonathan Ericsson’s sixth goal of the year with 2:23 remaining gave Detroit their first lead of the game and they held on for the win. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in earning the win while Cam Ward stopped 30 of 34 shots for Carolina.
The next night in Pittsburgh would feature no such comeback for the Wings, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Penguins. Chris Kunitz opened the game’s scoring at 4:40 of the first and Tanner Glass made it 2-0 midway through the opening period. Sidney Crosby’s shorthanded goal at 3:16 of the second extended the lead to three and Kunitz added another with 6:19 left in the middle period. Carlo Colaiacovo finally got the Red Wings on the board with a power play goal with 3:03 remaining but Evgeni Malkin scored with 1:13 left to chase Howard from the Detroit crease. Jonas Gustavsson would face only six shots in the third, stopping them all for a 5-1 final. Howard finished the night with 12 saves on 17 shots in 38:47 of play while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots.
The Red Wings’ scoring troubles continued on Saturday in Ottawa, where they couldn’t score a goal in a 1-0 loss to the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson scored the game’s only goal at 5:13 of the first period and 28 saves by Robin Lehner made it stand up as the game-winner. Howard rebounded from his awful night in Pittsburgh with a 31-save performance.
With only two of a possible six points earned on the week, the Red Wings fell to third in the Central Division, four points back of both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators but with two games in hand on the Preds. The Blues are the hottest team in the league heading into the New Year, riding an eight-game winning streak.
The next week will see the Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium, then host the Nashville Predators in the last game before a five-game road trip.