Washington at Detroit (3/16/11)

The Washington Capitals made a rare appearance at Joe Louis Arena to play the Red Wings tonight. The goalies were Jimmy Howard and Michal Neuvirth. Rafalski returned to the lineup tonight after recovering from back spasms. Eaves and Miller were healthy scratches. Salei was not available because his wife was about to deliver a baby, so Kindl got to stay in the lineup even with Rafalski coming back.

This was a great game between two top teams. The Capitals came into this game on hot streak having won their previous nine games. The Red Wings have been struggling at home lately so they had their work cut out for them.

The defense was pretty tight on both sides. There wasn’t much room in the neutral zone and both teams were doing a good job of not allowing the puck in their own end for any significant amount of time. The Wings seemed to be managing to get set up and cycle the puck more often than the Capitals, but it was tough at both ends. Zetterberg opened the scoring about halfway through the first period. It was a great passing play that went all over the ice from Cleary to Bertuzzi to Rafalski and finally to Zetterberg who slapped it home. Just a few seconds later, though, Carlson scored to tie it up for the Capitals. Howard was screened by Datsyuk and didn’t see the puck until it was too late. The Red Wings got the lead back again a few minutes later when they worked the puck down low and Filppula tipped it in from right in front of the net. The period ended with the Wings up two to one.

There was only one goal in the second period but it was incredible. Ovechkin entered the zone with speed but Stuart was right on him. Stuart appeared to have his stick in the way but Ovechkin still managed to release a blistering shot that I don’t think any goalie in the league would have stopped. From an impartial viewpoint it was a thing of beauty. It was a great display of Ovechkin’s abilities but unfortunately it cost the Red Wings a goal to witness it.

In the third period the Red Wings were on the power play and Zetterberg took the puck in deep. As he passed Neuvirth he let go a backhand shot that found the tiniest of holes over the goalie’s shoulder. Even in slow motion it was tough to see how that puck got into the net but it did, and the Wings had the lead again.

At the end of the game the Caps pulled the goalie and Zetterberg was on the ice hoping for a hat trick with the net empty but there was no more scoring.

Both teams played really well tonight. It was great to see the Wings step it up and play well at home against a tough team. Rafalski had assists on all three goals so clearly it’s nice to have him back in the lineup.

This 2-3 win brings us to:
92 points

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