TGTW: Wings Drop Three Consecutive Games in Week Six

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.

Three consecutive losses dropped the Detroit Red Wings out of a tie for first place in the National Hockey League in the season’s sixth week but the team remains in a tie with the Los Angeles Kings atop the Western Conference.

The Red Wings dropped their first overtime game of the season on Tuesday when they hosted the Dallas Stars.  Dallas’ Vern Fiddler opened the game’s scoring at 9:27 of the first but Johan Franzen responded for the Wings with 49 seconds left in the period to even things up.  Pavel Datsyuk made it 2-1 in Detroit’s favor at 1:51 of the second, a score that would hold until Michael Ryder made it a 2-2 tie with 7:38 left in regulation.  At 1:34 of the overtime period, Eric Nystrom gave Dallas the win.

Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard allowed the three goals on just 19 shots while Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen made 19 saves on 21 shots.  The lone bright spot for the Red Wings was the return of Todd Bertuzzi to the lineup after missing two games with concussion-like symptoms.

The Wings’ skid continued on Thursday with a 5-3 loss to the visiting New Jersey Devils, fueled by three quick goals in the middle of the third period.  Datsyuk got the Red Wings out to a quick start, scoring just a minute into the game and adding another at 9:38 of the first on a power play.  Ilya Kovalchuk got the Devils on the board at 3:21 of the second and Dainius tied things up with a power play goal at 6:14 of the third.  Jordin Tootoo‘s first as a Red Wing put Detroit back out in front at 8:05 but Tim Sestito re-tied it 23 seconds later.  Adam Larsson gave the Devils their first lead with 9:32 remaining and Zubrus extended after only three seconds, chasing Howard from the crease in favor of Jonas Gustavsson.

Gustavsson stopped the three shots he saw in the final 9:29 of play after Howard made 24 saves on 29 shots.  New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced.

A six-round shootout loss in Minnesota closed out the week for the Red Wings.  Cal Clutterbuck got the Wild out to an early lead at 1:04 of the first before Darren Helm responded with his first of the season at 6:46.  Valtteri Filppula put the Red Wings out front at 6:58 of the second with a power play goal and Jakub Kindl extended the lead 53 seconds later.  With 8:35 left in the third, Jared Spurgeon cut Detroit’s lead to a goal.  Just eight seconds later, Kyle Brodziak tied things up.

Franzen and Brodziak scored to open the shootout.  Datsyuk was stopped and Devin Setoguchi scored in the second round but Henrik Zetteberg scored and Howard stopped Pierre-Marc Bouchard to keep the Wings alive.  Mikael Samuelsson, Matt Cullen, Bertuzzi, Steven Kampfer and Drew Miller would all fail to score before Ryan Suter beat Howard to give the Wild the win.

Howard finished the night with 24 saves on 27 shots.  Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves on 32 chances.

After six weeks of play, Filppula remains the team’s leading scorer with 26 points, five more than Datsyuk and good for second in the NHL, one behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.  Datsyuk sits fourth in the league in scoring.  Howard’s 2.09 GAA puts him at fifth in the league.

The next week will see the Wings host the Penguins and Blues before visiting the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Datsyuk, Lidstrom Each Score Twice as Red Wings Rout Coyotes in Game Seven

With their season on the line, Detroit’s top players came through as Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom each scored a pair of goals in leading the Red Wings to a 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Seven of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski each had three assists on the night while Brad Stuart and Todd Bertuzzi rounded out the scoring.

The Red Wings advance to face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Detroit outshot Phoenix 17-6 in the first period but couldn’t solve goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. It wasn’t until 2:01 of the second period that his countryman, Datsyuk, opened the game’s scoring.

With the Red Wings on the power play, Datsyuk took a bouncing feed from Lidstrom in the slot and snapped a shot through traffic in front of the net and past Bryzgalov.

Datsyuk scored his second just 1:41 later, taking a long stretch pass from Zetterberg and breaking in all alone on Bryzgalov. He faked to his backhand and cut back to his forehand, lifting a shot over Bryzgalov’s shoulder to make it 2-0.

Vernon Fiddler got Phoenix on the board at 8:23 of the second, taking advantage of a miscue by Datsyuk to snap a shot off the faceoff past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Lidstrom’s first of the night, another power play goal, restored Detroit’s two-goal lead with 6:08 left in the period. The rebound of a Zetterberg chance came into the high slot, where Lidstrom stepped in and blasted it past Bryzgalov.

The Coyotes had a chance to cut into the lead again in the period’s closing minutes with a 72-second five-on-three. Detroit limited Phoenix to only two shots, however, and turned the tables as the second penalty expired.

Lee Stempniak tried to throw a pass to former Red Wing Mathieu Schneider at the point but it was off target and left the Detroit zone. Just out of the penalty box, Brad Stuart picked up the loose puck and raced in to beat Bryzgalov with 4.6 seconds left in the period.

Bertuzzi banged home the rebound of a Valtteri Filppula chance 6:35 into the third period, virtually ending the series.

Lidstrom wrapped up the scoring with his second of the night, snapping a shot into the top corner of the net from the right faceoff dot. It was another power play goal, coming with 7:46 left in the game.

The Red Wings finished the night three-for-six on the power play. The Coyotes were scoreless on five tries with the extra attacker, including the 1:12 five-on-three.

Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots in earning the win. Bryzgalov made 44 saves on 50 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings are expected to open the second round on Thursday.


Phoenix captain Shane Doan sat out his fourth consecutive game after being injured in Game Three.

Holmstrom Sparks Red Wings to 4-1 Win over Coyotes in Game Five

Tomas Holmstrom broke a 1-1 tie with 8:51 remaining in the third period Friday night, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Five of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

The Red Wings now lead the series 3-2. It’s the first time they’ve led in these playoffs.

Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom set up Holmstrom’s goal. Datsyuk won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Lidstrom for a shot from the blue line. The shot slipped through Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov but was knocked down by Holmstrom and defender Adrian Aucoin, who were in behind the goalie. Holmstrom found the puck before Aucoin or Bryzgalov and swatted it into the open net to put the Red Wings up 2-1.

Datsyuk made it 3-1 just 70 seconds later. Holmstrom worked the puck from behind the net to Johan Franzen on the left wing boards before Franzen got it to Datsyuk all alone at the top of the crease. Datsyuk spun and lifted a backhander off the post and into the top corner of the net.

Henrik Zetterberg added an empty net goal in the game’s final minute to wrap up the scoring.

Drew Miller had opened the scoring for Detroit, scoring on a wraparound chance with 2:56 left in the first period. Bryzgalov stopped Miller’s initial chance but the rebound bounced off Coyote Vernon Fiddler‘s skate and back past Bryzgalov.

Ed Jovanovski tied the game up at 9:45 of the second, just 13 seconds after the expiration of a Phoenix power play, banging home the rebound of an Aucoin shot from the point while standing on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard‘s pad.

The Coyotes had a chance to take a 2-1 lead early in the third period, when Martin Hanzal jumped out of the penalty box to take a pass and break in on Howard. Howard knocked the initial shot aside and then dove back to grab the rebound chance, keeping the game knotted up.

Howard finished the night with 30 saves on 31 Phoenix chances. Bryzgalov stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced.

For the first time this series, neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings had six chances with the extra attacker while the Coyotes had five. Phoenix is now 0-for-19 on the power play since scoring on their first three tries in Game One.

Detroit will have a chance to win the series at home in Game Six on Sunday.


Phoenix was without captain Shane Doan for the second consecutive game. Doan has not played since leaving Game Three with a shoulder injury.

Howard Earns First Playoff Shutout as Red Wings Tie Series with Coyotes

Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 29 shots for his first career playoff shutout Tuesday night, leading the Red Wings to a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup is now tied at two games apiece. Game Five will be in Glendale on Friday.

Henrik Zetterberg opened the game’s scoring with 4:27 left to play in the second period.

Zetterberg deflected a Niklas Kronwall shot from the blue line past Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov on the power play. After video review, it was determined that the deflection did not come off of a high stick.

After the Coyotes failed to tie the game on a long power play in the third, Pavel Datsyuk extended Detroit’s lead.

With 4:07 left in regulation, Datsyuk one-timed a pass from Johan Franzen at the bottom of the right faceoff circle over Bryzgalov’s glove hand.

Zetterberg added his second of the night just 25 seconds later, sneaking an acute-angle shot past Bryzgalov after Todd Bertuzzi beat out an icing call.

Bryzgalov finished the night with 32 saves on 35 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings were one-for-three on the power play while holding the Coyotes without a goal on five chances with the extra attacker, including 13 seconds of a two-man advantage.


The Coyotes were without captain Shane Doan, who was injured when he crashed into the boards on a play on in Sunday’s Game Three… Vernon Fiddler returned to the Phoenix lineup after missing Game Three.

Game Four Pregame Notes

Not much to say about tonight’s oddly-timed Game Four.

The game is set to start at 6:30 and the Red Wings have to be there on time. This is as close to a must-win as it gets without actually facing elimination.

Brian Rafalski has skipped the last two practices for Detroit but is expected to play tonight. Shane Doan is out for Phoenix, with Vernon Fiddler back in the lineup to replace him.

The Red Wings have to take advantage of the Doan-less Coyotes. Phoenix was a noticeably less-energetic team with Doan out of the lineup on Sunday but Detroit was so slow and slow apathetic that it didn’t matter.

And I know that one reader who emailed me on Sunday will say that kind of thinking doesn’t give credit to the Coyotes. That’s because it’s not intended to. In Game One the Coyotes clearly outplayed Detroit. In Game Three they did not, it was just that the Wings were that bad.

Game Three Pregame Notes

Yeah, there’s no such thing as a “must-win” until you’re facing elimination but it’s pretty clear that we’re past the “feeling out” phase of this series.

The Red Wings did what they had to do in Glendale, they came back home with a split and turned the series into a five-game affair in which they have home ice advantage. “All” they have to do is hold serve at home and the series is theirs.

In Game One the Red Wings failed to play the kind of game they will need to play to win this series. In Game Two they got there but it wasn’t a consistent sixty-minute effort. If the Wings continue to play the way they played the third period of Game Two, they will win this series.

They have to be strong on the puck. They have to drive to the net. They have to get shots through to Ilya Bryzgalov. They have to not back down from Phoenix’s physical play.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, seem to be in a bit of disarray. They know they can win when they make the Red Wings play Phoenix’s game but can they win one where the pace is dictated by Detroit? They’re also battling injuries, with Vernon Fiddler and former Red Wing Robert Lang not yet confirmed to be in the lineup this afternoon.

We already know how I feel about afternoon games and games on national broadcasters. This one’s a 3:00 start on NBC.

Red Wings Ride Zetterberg’s Hat Trick to Game Two Win over Coyotes

Henrik Zetterberg scored three goals, including two in the third period, as the Detroit Red Wings posted a 7-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Friday night, evening their Western Conference Semifinal matchup at one game apiece.

Zetterberg opened the scoring for Detroit at 6:27 of the second period, taking a feed from Valtteri Filppula to snap a shot past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from the slot. It was the first of two power play goals for the Red Wings and tied the game at one.

Phoenix responded just 38 seconds later, when a miscommunication between netminder Jimmy Howard and defenseman Niklas Kronwall left the puck available for Wojtek Wolski to bang past Howard.

The Red Wings tied things back up at 8:20 of the period. Johan Franzen threw the puck to the net, then, at the top of the crease, Pavel Datsyuk reached through the legs of defenseman Adrian Aucoin to get his stick on the puck and deflect it over Bryzgalov’s shoulder.

The Coyotes responded quickly again, with Matthew Lombardi racing the length of the ice, splitting the defense, and beating Howard five-hole 49 seconds after Datsyuk’s goal.

Valtteri Filppula made it five goals in a 3:58 span when he outraced Zbynek Michalek to the puck in the Phoenix end and beat Bryzgalov with a backhander to tie the game at four.

Justin Abdelkader, inserted into the lineup in place of Jason Williams to give Detroit a more physical presence, gave the Red Wings their first lead of the game at 2:32 of the third period. He stole the puck from Wolski as Wolski tried to carry it out of the Phoenix end, then raced in on Bryzgalov and snapped a shot past him.

Shane Doan would tie the game back up at 9:24 of the period, beating Howard on a feed from Vernon Fiddler on a two-on-one after Brian Rafalski pinched in at the Phoenix blue line.

Zetterberg scored his second of the night for the eventual game-winner, banging the rebound of a Todd Bertuzzi shot past Bryzgalov with 6:06 remaining.

Filppula added his second on a Detroit power play with 2:06 left in the third, snapping a shot from the right faceoff circle into the top corner of the net.

Zetterberg completed the hat trick with an empty net goal in the game’s final minute to round out the scoring.

Keith Yandle had opened the game’s scoring midway through the first period when he backhanded the rebound of a Martin Hanzal shot over Howard.

The Red Wings reversed their special teams fortunes from Game One, where they scored on only one of six power plays and allowed three goals on four penalty kills. In Game Two they scored on two of three power plays and held the Coyotes off the board on Phoenix’s four tries with the extra attacker.

Howard stopped 27 of 31 shots against for his first career playoff win. Bryzgalov made 32 saves on 38 shots.

Game Three will be Sunday afternoon in Detroit.

Red Wings Defeat Predators in Central Division Matchup

In the first completed game between the top two teams in the Central Division, the Detroit Red Wings earned a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators. Detroit took a six point lead in the standings with the victory.

The Red Wings scored twice in the third period to secure the win.

Just 2:00 into the period, Jason Williams gave the Red Wings the lead when he was left all alone in front of the net on a broken play. Mikael Samuelsson got the puck to him and he lifted it over Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun on a backhand shot.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored his second goal of the night with 6:53 left in the game. With Detroit on the power play, Steve Yzerman sent a cross-ice pass to Lidstrom at the top of the right circle. The goal was originally credited to Brendan Shanahan, who was screening the Nashville goalie in front of the crease and could have tipped the shot.

Nashville had opened the game’s scoring on a power play with 6:05 left in the first.

After a shot from the blue line was knocked aside, Vernon Fiddler picked up the rebound, got control of the puck, and put it past Detroit netminder Manny Legace.

The Red Wings tied the game with 2:44 left in the second period on Lidstrom’s first power play goal, a blast down the slot from the blue line.

Legace finished the game with 29 saves on 30 shots in his second game in as many nights after returning from injury. Vokoun made 33 saves on 36 shots.

Detroit went two-for-seven on the power play and held Nashville to one goal on four chances with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Sunday when they host the Dallas Stars.


Johan Franzen did not play after suffering a mild injury Thursday night against St. Louis. Mark Mowers took his place… Yzerman’s assist tied him with Gordie Howe for seventh all-time in NHL assists.