Kronwall Escapes Injury as Red Wings Fall to Blues

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 2-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night, but avoided further loss when defenseman Niklas Kronwall was able to finish the game after taking a hit from behind by Chris Stewart.

Kronwall left the game in the first period after Stewart sent him dangerously into the boards with 8:46 remaining. He would return to start the second period, however.

Stewart was ejected for the hit and given a five-minute penalty for checking from behind.

The Red Wings, leading at the time of the hit, seemingly lost focus during the long power play. They failed to score on it and managed only four shots in seven total minutes of time with the extra attacker in the opening period.

The Blues scored on their first power play shot of the game with 2:41 remaining in the period, as Matt D’Agostini snapped a shot from the slot over a sprawling Jimmy Howard.

Alexander Steen gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead just past the midway point of the second period. Johan Franzen‘s no-look backhand clearing attempt landed on Steen’s stick at the blue line and he carried the puck up to the top of the left faceoff circle to fling the puck past Howard.

Justin Abdelkader had opened the game’s scoring at 6:07 of the first, throwing the puck to the front of the net from the side of the goal. It bounced around and slipped through the pads of Blues’ netminder Brian Elliot to give the Red Wings the early lead.

Elliot finished the night with 21 saves on 22 Detroit shots. Howard stopped 35 of 37 shots against.

The Blues went one-for-four on the power play, including a late five-on-three to end the game. The Wings were scoreless on six power play tries, among them the five-minute major to Stewart.

The Red Wings will continue their road trip on Thursday in San Jose.

Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith served the final game of his five-game suspension. He is expected to remain with the Red Wings for the remainder of their road trip rather than return to the Grand Rapids Griffins… Forward Todd Bertuzzi remained out of the lineup with a sinus infection… Fabian Brunnstrom was the team’s healthy scratch.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Blues – 11/15

That was the last Wings game I’ll see until the Calgary game and I’ve gotta say, that’s not what I want sticking with me for the next week.

Credit the Blues’ defense for pressuring the Wings every chance they got. Detroit had a horrible time gaining the St. Louis zone because they had no space to work. It wasn’t just the offense not clicking, they hit a defense that shut them down.

That said, I don’t think the Blues ever really got anything going in the offensive end. It never felt like they were really threatening. Their best chances came off of one-off miscues by the Wings (of which there were far too many). I can believe the Wings only got 22 shots off but I’m surprised that St. Louis took 37.

The game overall felt a lot like Detroit’s wins over Edmonton on Friday and Dallas on Saturday (especially through two periods of the latter). It was a close game, not very smooth, not a lot of offense for either team. The Red Wings were able to break the game open against Dallas and get a key late goal against Edmonton but tonight they didn’t play with the urgency needed to do that.

And I’ve said before that I hate that. I can’t stand watching a game where the Red Wings don’t act like they care. It’s offensive to the fans when star players coast. Tonight the third and fourth lines put forth more effort than the first and second, and the Wings aren’t built to win games like that. The best players on this team have to at least look like they’re trying.

One thing not entirely related to the game that I feel deserves recognition is the end of Brendan Smith‘s suspension. He deserved the five games he got but it’s amazing the loopholes that exist to allow him to serve the entirety of that suspension without missing a single NHL or AHL game he wouldn’t have already missed.

The AHL suspended him for a set time period rather than a set number of games to start the season, so he stayed up in Detroit burning three games off his NHL suspension when he couldn’t play in the NHL. Then he went down and started playing with the Griffins as soon as he could, not missing an AHL game once his suspension in that league was over. His fourth and fifth games served of the NHL suspension were on nights the Griffins weren’t playing and he wasn’t actually needed (not that he could have played) by the Wings. His five-game NHL suspension effectively became a three-game AHL one.

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