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 remain atop the Central Division after the eleventh week of play in the 2012-13 NHL season, but the Nashville Predators have moved into a tie with them, having played one more game. The Predators went 3-0 in a week that saw the Red Wings go 2-1, making up two points lost last week.
The Red Wings opened their week with a 3-2 win over the league-leading Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Todd Bertuzzi scored at 3:57 of the first to get Detroit out to an early lead and Henrik Zetterberg made it 2-0 just 32 seconds later. Darren Helm extended the lead to three goals at 1:03 of the second. Simon Gagne got the Kings on the board with 8:55 left in the middle frame and Anze Kopitar pulled LA to within one with 7:08 left in regulation but Jimmy Howard held on for the win, stopping 26 of 28 shots on the night and ten of 11 in the third.
The New York Islanders continued their run of wins over the Red Wings on Thursday, as Detroit dropped a 6-3 decision. Valtteri Filppula scored the only goal of the first period at 4:17 but the Islanders would score the next five goals. Frans Nielsen tied the game up at 2:15 of the second and Brad Boyes put the Islanders in front with 7:14 left in the period. Kyle Okposo’s power play goal 1:49 later made it 3-1. Josh Bailey made it 4-1 at 8:04 of the third period and Nielsen’s second of the night with 7:00 remaining chased Howard from the Detroit net. Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson scored 1:04 apart to make it 5-3 but Matt Moulson closed out the scoring with 2:38 remaining. Howard made 19 saves on 24 shots in his abbreviated night, with Jonas Gustavsson stopping two of three shots he faced.
The Red Wings appeared to be heading to another loss on Saturday but rallied for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Drew Miller opened the scoring with a power play goal with 50 seconds left in the first period. Derick Brassard scored at 8:52 and 9:01 of the second to put the Jackets in front and Cam Atkinson made it 3-1 with 6:48 remaining in the middle period. It looked like the Wings would be down a pair heading into the second intermission, but Jonathan Ericsson scored with 49 seconds remaining and again with 31 seconds left to tie things back up. Todd Bertuzzi’s power play goal at 3:15 of the third would be the difference-maker as the Wings went on to win. Howard made 23 saves on 26 shots in the effort.
After eleven weeks of play, Valtteri Filppula leads the Wings in scoring with 40 points, six back of the league-leading Kopitar. Howard’s 19 wins leave him tied for second in the NHL and his five shutouts are tied for first in the league.
The Red Wings hold the Central Division’s top spot by virtue of a game in hand on Nashville, who also has 40 points. The St. Louis Blues sit two points back with a game in hand on Detroit.
The coming week will see the Red Wings play three games on the road after the Christmas break. On Wednesday they’ll visit the Carolina Hurricanes before moving on to see the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.