Filppula Nets Pair as Red Wings Down Blues

Valtteri Filppula scored twice and his line was responsible for two more goals as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night.

Both of Filppula’s goals came late in the third period, putting the Red Wings in front and clinching the win after the Blues had tied the game earlier in the period.

St. Louis opened the game’s scoring 5:39 into the game when Paul Kariya split Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, breaking in before Henrik Zetterberg could get to him and beating Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard five-hole.

Zetterberg evened things up just 26 seconds into the second period. He picked up the puck at center ice and gained the St. Louis zone, sweeping into the right faceoff circle around defenseman Barret Jackman before cutting to the net and shoveling a backhand shot between the pads of goalie Ty Conklin.

Detroit took the lead 4:09 later with a goal credited to Todd Bertuzzi. Filppula took a shot from the right edge of the slot with Bertuzzi crowding the net. Conklin made the stop but Zetterberg swatted at the rebound, bouncing the puck off of Bertuzzi’s leg and across the goal line.

Jay McClement tied the game 2:05 into the third period, wristing a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle over Howard’s glove.

Filppula put Detroit back in front with his first of the night with 6:49 left in regulation. Rafalski floated a shot in on Conklin from center ice and Filppula raced in to jump on the rebound, backhanding a shot past the sprawling goalie.

With 12 seconds to play Filppula added an empty-net goal, wrapping up the game.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. St. Louis had three tries – including a four-minute power play in the second period – while Detroit had two.

Howard made 30 saves on 32 St. Louis shots for his 30th win of the season. Conklin stopped 20 of 23 chances by his former club.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they host the Minnesota Wild.

Tomas Holmstrom left the game midway through the third period after taking a hit from T.J. Oshie… The win, combined with Colorado’s shootout win over the Kings, keeps Detroit in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. The Wings are four points up on the Calgary Flames, two back of the Avalanche and the Nashville Predators, and three back of Los Angeles. Detroit has a game in hand on Nashville while the Kings have one on the Wings.

Red Wings – Blues Postgame Notes

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…

#1 – Tomas Holmstrom left the game after taking a hit from T.J. Oshie midway through the third period.

#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.

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