Five-Goal Second Period Carries Red Wings over Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings rode five second-period goals to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon, bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit and holding off a third-period comeback by Chicago.

The Red Wings got goals from Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jason Williams and Valtteri Filppula in a 6:15 span and one more from Pavel Datsyuk in the final seconds of the middle frame.

Rafalski put Detroit on the board at 4:12 of the second, blasting a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Chicago netminder Cristobal Huet while the Wings skated with a four-on-three advantage.

Just 28 seconds later Lidstrom tied the game, rifling a shot right down the slot and past Huet, through a screen by Todd Bertuzzi.

Williams put the Red Wings out in front at 9:45 of the period. Henrik Zetterberg threw the puck to the front of the net from the bottom of the left circle and Williams – covered by two Blackhawks and falling to the ice – tipped it into the open side of the net.

Filppula extended the lead 42 seconds later beating Huet after getting the puck from Bertuzzi on a two-on-one.

Antti Niemi replaced Huet in the Chicago crease after Filppula’s goal and was beaten on a breakaway by Datsyuk with two seconds remaining in the period. Datsyuk stole the puck from Patrick Kane in the Detroit end of the ice with nine seconds left, broke in on Niemi, and beat him with a backhand shot.

The Blackhawks had opened the game’s scoring 4:24 into the opening period. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard directed the rebound of a Brent Seabrook shot straight to Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who fired a shot that deflected off of Rafalski’s leg and past Howard.

Andrew Ladd made it a 2-0 game with 8:23 left in the first, snapping a shot from the right faceoff dot past Howard off a giveaway by Filppula.

The Blackhawks thought they had made it 3-0 early in the second period but a power play goal was called back for goaltender interference, one of the game’s several contested plays around the creases.

Ladd resumed Chicago’s scoring 1:59 into the third period on a similar shot after the Red Wings failed to clear their own end.

To complete the hat trick and pull Chicago to within a goal, Ladd tipped a Keith shot from the blue line past Howard off of a faceoff win in the Detroit end with 7:54 remaining in the third.

Howard finished the afternoon with 28 saves on 32 shots to earn the win. Huet made 13 stops on 17 Detroit chances before getting pulled while Niemi stopped seven of eight shots but let in the eventual game-winner, giving him the loss.

Rafalski’s goal was the game’s only power play goal, scored on Detroit’s lone chance with the extra attacker. Chicago was scoreless on two power plays.

The Red Wings look to extend their winning streak to three games on Tuesday when they host the Calgary Flames.

Bertuzzi left the game in the second period with what the Red Wings called a lower body injury… Combined with Calgary’s win and Nashville’s loss, the Red Wings remain one point up on the Flames in the standings but climb to within a point of the Predators.

Red Wings Drop Fourth Straight with Shootout Loss to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings returned home from their five-game road trip Thursday night but the while the venue changed the results stayed the same as they dropped their fourth decision in a row, this one a shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Patrick Marleau scored the only goal of the tiebreaker, faking out Jimmy Howard to win the game for San Jose.

The Red Wings had opened the game’s scoring with 7:47 left in the first period when Johan Franzen snapped a shot from the right faceoff circle over the shoulder of Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov while on a power play.

Just 35 seconds later Joe Thornton tied the game, crashing the net and banging the puck in from the side of the crease after it bounced off the back boards on a shot by Niclas Wallin.

Dwight Helminen put the Sharks in front with 10 seconds left in the period, taking a centering pass after being left uncovered in the slot and snapping a shot into the open side of the net.

Jason Williams, the subject of many trade rumors with scouts from ten teams in the stands, tied the game with 7:05 left in regulation, skating around one San Jose defender before lifting a shot over Nabokov’s shoulder.

Nabokov stopped a career-high 50 shots on Detroit’s 52 chances in earning the win. Howard made 24 saves on 26 San Jose shots.

The Red Wings went 1-for-5 on the power play while the Sharks were scoreless in two tries with the extra skater.

Detroit plays their last game before the Olympic break on Saturday as they host the Ottawa Senators.

Red Wings – Penguins Postgame Notes

After thinking about this for most of the day, there are a few things from today’s loss that are sticking with me.

The Red Wings absolutely survived this one. It was in Pittsburgh’s hands all game and Detroit just held on enough to get the point. It was a much-needed point but the problem is two-points were much-needed as well.

The offense and defense are still not communicating, leading to some awful turnovers on clearing attempts. Either that or the blueliners are just being stupid. Since the latter has never been a problem before, I lean towards the former being the issue.

Had the Wings been able to clear their own zone more efficiently the offense might have had a chance to get going but as it was there were probably only two or three memorable shifts in the Penguins’ zone. Thankfully one yielded a goal or we’d be talking about another game where the Wings didn’t even get a point.

Jimmy Howard continues to stand on his head… in the game itself. In the gimmick he’s a mess. I know it’s an unpopular opinion and I don’t think we have much better of an option but I have no faith in Howard once it comes to the shootout. He commits too early and gets burned on the deke. This isn’t a problem if Detroit wins in regulation but that’s been an issue of late.

I also question Mike Babcock‘s strategy in the shootout. Jason Williams as the second shooter? If you’re going to move Henrik Zetterberg out of that spot, Todd Bertuzzi has to go second. He’s earned that with his shootout performance this season, even if Williams was part of the shootout go-to group before he got hurt.

That there are things to take away from this loss at all make it better than the one to Minnesota a few nights ago.

Howard Stops 46 in Red Wings Win over Predators

Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced Friday night, leading the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

The Red Wings got goals from four players. Nicklas Lidstrom continued his hot streak with a goal and an assist and Jason Williams scored in his first game back from injury.

Williams opened the scoring with 1:33 left in the first period, tipping home a chance on a Detroit power play. Valtteri Filppula put the puck on net from the left wing, catching a piece of Drew Miller‘s stick on its way to Williams for the tap-in past Nashville goalie Dan Ellis.

The lead was short-lived as Francis Bouillon snapped a shot past Howard from the right circle just 1:09 later.

Lidstrom blasted a shot from the high slot past Ellis at 5:55 of the second, putting the Red Wings back in front on another power play goal.

Drew Miller extended the lead with a tip-in on a rebound chance from the front of the net 3:02 later, just after the expiration of another Nashville penalty.

A Shea Weber shot snuck past Howard at 5:57 of the third to pull the Predators back within a goal but Henrik Zetterberg banked a shot off of Ellis and into the net from an acute angle with 9:48 remaining to wrap up the scoring.

Detroit finished the night with two power play goals on four tries with the extra attacker. Nashville was scoreless in as many chances, including a six-on-four to and the game while Ellis was on the bench.

Ellis stopped 25 of 29 Detroit shots on the night.

The Red Wings will spend their next five games on the road, starting in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Abdelkader Sent to Grand Rapids as Williams Returns

Jason Williams will make his return from a fractured fibula tonight as the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators.

To make room in the lineup for Williams and to accommodate the expected return of Tomas Holmstrom on Sunday, Justin Abdelkader was sent down to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Abdelkader does not have to clear waivers on his way down so Detroit is in no danger of losing him.

The Red Wings will have to worry about a roster crunch again when Johan Franzen or Andreas Lilja return.

Kronwall to Return Tuesday, Lilja Inching Closer

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall will return to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday as the Phoenix Coyotes visit Joe Louis Arena.

The team announced on Monday that Kronwall, who has been out since November 21 after a knee-on-knee hit from Montreal’s Georges Laraque, will rejoin defense partner Brad Stuart on the second blueline pairing and will take his usual place on the point with the second power play unit.

Kronwall’s return comes along with the news that defenseman Andreas Lilja hasn’t experienced a headache in 13 days. Lilja, who hasn’t played in a year with post-concussion symptoms, needs to go 14 days without a headache to be cleared to begin full-contact practices. He is hopeful that he could return to the lineup soon.

Tomas Holmstrom, out with a broken foot since early this month, is targeting this week for a return. Jason Williams hopes to return from his fractured fibula in early Feburary.

Johan Franzen, originally expected to be out until March, could return on the same West Coast road trip as Williams.

Ericsson to Return Tonight

For the first time in quite awhile, the Red Wings will be facing a team with more players out to injury than Detroit has as they host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.

The Red Wings will get Jonathan Ericsson back into the lineup, with Doug Janik being sent back to Grand Rapids.

This gives Detroit only five injuries – Andreas Lilja, Johan Franzen, Jason Williams, Niklas Kronwall and Tomas Holmstrom.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have six regulars out of the lineup – Chad Larose, Scott Walker, Joe Corvo, Sergei Samsonov, Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for the Wings, likely going up against Carolina’s Cam Ward as former Red Wing Manny Legace is not expected to start.

Guessing the Odd-Men Out

Sooner or later the Red Wings will be healthy again. Given how much they miss their injured players right now, that’s a good thing. It is going to cause quite the roster crunch, though.

The Wings currently have one extra forward. Last night it was Ville Leino who sat in favor of Brad May. Bill at A2Y questioned why May would play when Detroit’s offense has been so anemic.

He admits that having Leino on the ice last night wouldn’t have made a difference but it got me thinking… How are the Red Wings going to put together their lineup when their four missing forwards come back?

There are thirteen healthy forwards right now, including Mattias Ritola who can be sent to Grand Rapids at any time so I assume he’s gone as soon as someone comes back.

Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg could be back tomorrow in Los Angeles. Jason Williams is looking at returning later this month. Johan Franzen is expected back after the Olympic break. That’s four of twelve forwards right there.

I don’t see Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm or Tomas Holmstrom losing their spots in the lineup. I also highly doubt that Kris Draper would be a casualty of the numbers. Justin Abdelkader could be sent to Grand Rapids but the Red Wings told him to find a house in the Detroit area so I’m assuming he sticks with the team.

We’re up to eleven of twelve roster spots.

Patrick Eaves, Ville Leino, Kirk Maltby, Brad May and Drew Miller. Only one stays. Who is it?

May, Leino and Maltby are my immediate choices to be left out. This leaves either Eaves or Miller. I think I’d keep Eaves due to his slightly better offensive potential.

The choice is not an easy one no matter how you look at it.

Zetterberg Joins Wings’ Walking Wounded

So Henrik Zetterberg is set to have an MRI on his injured shoulder. I’m not a doctor or anything but I can’t recall any time when someone was sent bad enough to have tests done only for them to turn around and say “All clear, he’ll be back tomorrow.”

In short, Zata’s gonna miss some time even if he’s just sore.

Let’s do this math. NHL teams dress twenty players for every game. Two of those are goalies, leaving eighteen skaters.

Andreas Lilja. Johan Franzen. Valtteri Filppula. Jason Williams. Niklas Kronwall. Dan Cleary. Darren Helm. Jonathan Ericsson. Henrik Zetterberg.

That’s nine skaters right there. Nine. Going into Saturday’s game in Dallas you can expect the Red Wings to be playing with a roster half made up of players who weren’t even supposed to be on this team.

Justin Abdelkader was supposed to spend the season in Grand Rapids. Kris Newbury and Doug Janik have spent most of the season there. Brad May wasn’t even signed to an NHL contract when the Red Wings opened the season in Stockholm. Drew Miller – who scored a beautiful goal Thursday night against Tampa Bay – was playing for the Lightning when the season kicked off.

And yet the Red Wings sit six points ouf of first place in the Western Conference with three games in hand.

How insane is that?

Red Wings Win Game, Lose Ericsson

The Detroit Red Wings downed the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Monday night but lost yet another key player to injury as defenseman Jonathan Ericsson left the game early.

Ericsson injured his knee in a collision with Phoenix’s Shane Doan late in the first period. The Coyotes scored their first goal of the game while Ericsson was down on the ice.

With Darren Helm already out, Ericsson became the eighth Red Wing missing from the Detroit lineup as the game continued.

Helm’s replacement, Kris Newbury, scored the game’s opening goal just 5:25 into the game. Newbury banged the puck past Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov off a centering feed.

Patrick Eaves added a shorthanded goal with 9:23 left in the period, snapping a shot from the left faceoff circle past Bryzgalov on a rush.

The Coyotes pulled pulled back to within a goal with 4:52 left in the first. After Ericsson fell to the ice from the hit by Doan, the Red Wings could not regain control of the puck in their own end of the ice, ending with Taylor Pyatt putting it past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on the open side of the net.

Derek Meech restored the two-goal lead for Detroit at 2:05 of the second, firing a shot from just inside the blue line that seemed to fool Bryzgalov, slipping through his glove.

Radim Verbata put the Coyotes back within a goal with 37 seconds remaining in the second period but the Wings held on through a scoreless third to preserve the lead and get the win.

Howard finished the night with 30 saves on 32 Phoenix shots. Bryzgalov stopped 29 of 32 Detroit chances.

Neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings had four tries with the extra attacker while the Coyotes had three.

Ericsson will be reevaluated on Tuesday. In addition to him, the Red Wings are missing Andreas Lilja, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams, Niklas Kronwall, Dan Cleary and Darren Helm.

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