The Detroit Red Wings (44-24-4) ended their four-game road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion on Saturday night. With the loss, they received a charity point and ended the road trip with an 0-3-1 record.
Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Red Wings while Jimmy Howard made 32 saves. Howard kept the Red Wings in it, including making some key saves in the second period.
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks a jump-start as he scored 48 seconds into the game and Martin Havlat extended the lead late in the first period to make it 2-0. The Sharks’ fans didn’t have much time to celebrate when Pavel Datsyuk scored a sharp-angled goal from outside the left face-off circle through traffic 23 seconds later to make it 2-1.
Let it be known that the “Shark Tank” didn’t cue the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song when Datsyuk scored his 17th goal of the season. Having #13 back is a more than welcomed return to the Red Wings’ lineup after missing the previous 11 games recovering from knee surgery. The Red Wings were 3-7-1 without him during that span.
Filppula tied the game at 2-2 at almost the midway point of the third period by blasting a shot from the left circle past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. With the goal, Filppula extended his career-high 23rd goal of the season. It remained tied the rest of the third period and both teams entered the overtime session.
With 1:37 left in the extra period, Howard made a save on Justin Braun, but was pinned down by Braun and another Justin (Red Wings’ Abdelkader). Meanwhile, Havlat picked up the rebound and flipped the puck into the open net to score his second of the game, winning it for the Sharks.
To sum up the Red Wings’ four-game road venture, they went on a lousy road trip and all they got was a lousy point. In all seriousness, this is alarming. Even though they have key players missing (more on that shortly), they have fallen down on hard times. Not that long ago, they were on top of the NHL standings, but as of late, they have dropped faster than a one-hit wonder. Out of the previous four games on this trip, this was the team’s best effort. Hopefully this will turn into positive results going forward.
With the Nashville Predators falling to the Los Angeles Kings 4-2, the Red Wings are still holding on for dear life as they rank fourth in the Western Conference standings with 92 points and are two points ahead of the Predators, who are currently in fifth place. The Wings shouldn’t concentrate on trying to catch St. Louis, who is running away with first place in the Central Division with 100 points. They should just focus on maintaining home ice advantage for at least the first round by trying to stay in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Brendan Smith had a strong game for the Red Wings as he and teammate Doug Janik led the team with a +1 rating.
In past few days, Jimmy Howard, Todd Bertuzzi and Pavel Datsyuk have returned to the Red Wings’ lineup, but are still missing key components to their roster. Nicklas Lidstrom is still out with a deep bruise on his right ankle, while Johan Franzen and backup goalie Joey MacDonald both missed the game in San Jose with back spasms. Two other defenseman, Jakub Kindl (upper body) and Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), also sat out.
Now add Darren Helm to the list of the walking wounded. Helm left the game as he collided with the Sharks’ Dominic Moore late in the third period, but got the worst end of it by suffering an injured left leg. He will be evaluated on Monday and will likely miss the game against the Capitals later that night. Not a good sign at all as the injuries keep piling on, but it’s a part of the territory.
It’s more than a great sign that Datsyuk is back in the lineup. He’s arguably the best all-around player in the world and having a player with that kind of special talent is a major boost in any lineup.
In Lidstrom’s case, he missed his ninth straight game which is a career high for him. He is shut down until Monday and will be further evaluated. What I have to say is the truth: Lidstrom has been sorely missed in the Red Wings’ lineup, but this is a small sample size of what will happen down the road where there will be a Red Wing team that won’t have Lidstrom in the lineup permanently. The torch eventually will have to be passed, but to whom? Will it be to someone within the organization or will it be via free agency (i.e. Shea Weber or Ryan Suter)? We’ll find out in the following months.
The Red Wings look to get back on the winning track on Monday night as they host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Joe Louis Arena.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.