After a rough stretch for the Detroit Red Wings, dropping six of their last eight before today, they pulled off an overtime win over the Central Division leaders, the St. Louis Blues. In a game highlighted by physicality and penalties, it is no surprise that Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader lead the game with an assist and an overtime goal. With today’s goal, Abdelkader moves to 20 on the season, the best of his career, doubling his totals from each of the last two seasons.
The Red Wings’ success stems from their ability to move the puck in their own zone. Dangerously passing the puck across the front of their goal in traffic has become a characteristic move for them this season. Occasionally it has lead to disaster, giving opponents a quick look on the goal, but it has generally been a solid means for the Wings to quickly move the puck out of their own end, and maintain possession throughout the neutral zone. Today was no exception as they executed the dangerous passes successfully several times.
Third Period Penalties
Both teams were in each other’s faces all game. The Red Wings average about three and half penalties a game on each side — seven penalties total. Today’s game saw nearly that many, six, in one fell swoop. At 10:38 in the third, the two clubs racked up a combined six penalties, two for each of Chris Butler and Tomas Tatar, and one penalty for each Abdelkader and David Backes. Across the rest of the period, there were nine more penalties including a pair of majors for fighting (Petteri Lindbohm and Drew Miller) for an astonishingly high total of 15 in just 20 minutes of play.
Late Trade Dividends Continue
Just before the trade deadline the Wings picked up two senior players, forward Erik Cole and defenseman Marek Zidlicky, aged 36 and 38 years respectively. They have already proved their worth with high levels of production so far, a trend that they continued this afternoon.
After giving up a power play goal in the second to Alexander Steen on a Luke Glendening high sticking call, Cole came up with a rebound from an Abdelkader shot to tie the game at one a piece. Through the penalty filled third period (at one point six skaters were in the penalty boxes, enough to start their own rudimentary game made of hockey outlaws), the Wings and Blues remained even with scoring chances for both sides.
Just under 30 seconds into overtime at four on four — not a new situation for the skaters this game — Zidlicky put the puck on net and Abdelkader strong armed it in the net, breaking his stick in the process.
The Red Wings showed that they aren’t slowing down going into the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season, even with Pavel Datsyuk out for the third straight game due to injury. The Wings dropped the first two without Datsyuk, scoring just one goal in each against the Florida Panthers and the Atlantic Division rivals, Tampa Bay.