Chicago at Detroit (1/17/10)

The Red Wings had an especially quick turnaround for this particular back-to-back. Having just played in Dallas yesterday they hosted the Blackhawks today in Joe Louis Arena not even 24 hours later.

I expected the Red Wings to have a little extra grit in their game today after the disappointing finish of the game yesterday. I still cannot understand how they were able to call that a goal. It boggles the mind.

Anyway, on to today’s game against the red hot Hawks. Antti Niemi was in net for the Blackhawks and Jimmy Howard was in for the Wings.

Both teams looked ready to go for this one. The fans were also really into the game right from the start. They knew how important every game is for the Red Wings. It wasn’t that important to beat Chicago since the Wings really have no chance of catching them. They just really needed the two points in their quest to catch the Kings.

In the first period Detroit had a great chance at a goal with a couple of whacks at it but Niemi somehow stopped them. Then it went the other way and Brouwer took it in and shot it. It went off the inside of Howard’s leg, out the back and into the net. The Blackhawks had the early lead one to nothing.

Then Chicago went on the power play after an accidental high stick from Eaves. About half a minute into it Kane got the puck from Campbell and took it from the boards to the slot. He ripped one with Brouwer in front and beat Jimmy Howard to make it two to nothing Chicago.

With just under a minute to go in the period the Wings took the puck away from Chicago and started up ice. Zetterberg passed it across to Bertuzzi who brought into the zone and then gave it back to Zetterberg. He saw that Datsyuk was trailing and he just tipped it back to him. Datsyuk saw Lidstrom joining the rush so he sent it across to him. Lidstrom snapped a beautiful wrister off the post and in to bring the Wings to within a goal. That was a highlight reel goal and a great team effort.

Before the period ended Eaves and Versteeg had a great fight. Right off the faceoff they dropped the gloves and removed their helmets. Eaves got nailed several times right off the bat and was cut badly under the eye. He didn’t let that stop him though and he landed a bunch of solid punches before it was done. It was a very spirited battle and it pumped up the energy level of both teams.

The Red Wings ended up pretty close to the Blackhawks in shots on goal even though there was a long stretch, over ten minutes in fact, where the Wings didn’t have a single shot.

In the second period the Red Wings had a string of power plays. Even when they weren’t scoring the power play looked amazing. Bertuzzi, Zetterberg and Datsyuk were out there for most of it and they were moving the puck so well that it was fun to watch even when their shots were being stopped by Niemi.

Then on the third or fourth consecutive power play Rafalski sent it up the neutral zone to Datsyuk who brought into the Chicago end. Datsyuk passed to Zetterberg who made a brilliant play to handle the puck. The pass was behind him and he caught it with his skate, gathered it in on the backhand and then released a forehand shot that beat Niemi through the legs to tie the game at two. It was a beautiful display of hands by Zetterberg.

A few minutes later Chicago had the puck and Ladd passed from the point to Patrick Sharp who had snuck in unchallenged to the side of the net. He redirected it in behind Howard to give lead back to Chicago.

After two periods the Red Wings had a one goal deficit but they had pulled ahead in shots on goal and were way ahead in hits. The game felt pretty even at that point.

In the third period the Red Wings tied it up. It was right after a commercial break and, ironically, the NBC coverage was showing highlights of how well Niemi had played throughout the game. Apparently the game was going on while they were showing it so they missed the live broadcast of the goal. Draper had won the face off in the Blackhawks’ end and got it back to Lidstrom. He passed it Eaves along the boards. Eaves took the long shot with Helm screening Niemi. The puck had eyes and made it through everyone and into the net for the tying goal.

The tied score held until the end of regulation so it was on to overtime again.

The overtime period was just insane. It was pure end to end excitement. Both teams were playing really well and it felt like a playoff game. Neither team scored although they both had a lot of chances along with a lot of good defensive plays and incredible saves. For the second day in a row the Red Wings were going to a shootout.

Datsyuk went first in the shootout. He stopped, held the puck and then popped it up and over Niemi into the net. It was one of the coolest goals I’ve ever seen. Toews went next and ripped one through Howard’s legs. Then Zetterberg went and hit a post. Kane came up next and he was stoned by Howard who stood his ground. Bertuzzi came up for the Wings. He swung wide, did a spin-o-rama in front of Niemi and backhanded it into the net. That was even better than Datsyuk’s goal; just amazing! Hossa was last up for the Hawks. He caught the top corner and got it into the net to tie it up again. Cleary went next. He came in fast and shot but Niemi stopped him. It was all up to Patrick Sharp for the Hawks. He stick handled a little and beat Howard up high to win the game for Chicago.

This was just an amazing game. Detroit had one stretch in the first period where they seemed to be out matched but for pretty much the entire rest of the game it was just a legendary battle. Jimmy Howard was mad at himself after giving up the final goal. He smashed his stick on the crossbar. Part of the frustration was probably that it was the second day in a row the Wings have lost in a shootout after playing a great game. At least this time it wasn’t decided by a bad call. The Wings have nothing to be ashamed of. They’re playing well and the points are coming, just not as quickly as they’d like. Too bad there are no points for entertainment value or sweet, highlight reel goals because the Red Wings had them in spades today.

This 4-3 overtime loss brings us to:
56 points

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