Although they started out somewhat slowly in the first period, the Wings did what they needed to do tonight, winning their third in a row by shutting out the Blue Jackets 4-0 in Columbus. The game showcased high quality goaltending at both ends and skillful penalty killing in the Detroit end.
Chris Osgood was one of the two best players for the Wings tonight, making 26 stops, a number of which were pretty tough. The Blue Jackets, especially in the first, had some good scoring chances and Ozzie stood on his head. What that means for the goaltending situation, I don't know. It's going to be hard for Babcock to pick a #1 goalie when each of them continue to come up with performances like that.
The other player who had a particularly good game was Nick Lidstrom. He finished with just one point but was very good with the puck, looking more like a forward than a defenseman at times. He notched a whopping 31 minutes of ice time and seems to be intent on taking the opportunity presented by Bryan McCabe's groin injury
, and the resulting re-focusing of that spotlight, to show the League why he's
the best defenseman it has.
At the other end of the ice, Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire put on a very good performance of his own, despite the final score. If it weren't for his stellar play, that score would be a lot more lop-sided than it already is. The Wings sometimes made it easy on him by shooting the puck high or wide but when they got it on the net, he made the stop 37 times out of 41. He's a good goalie.
Right out of the gate, both teams were skating hard up and down the ice while trading chances. It didn't take too long, however, for Columbus to take over a bit.
Osgood made a very good stop on Sergei Fedorov about six minutes in when Sergei came across the net and switched from the backhand to the forehand a couple feet from the crease. Good play by Fedorov but Osgood was up to the challenge.
The Wings got their first penalty at 7:51 when Osgood gave up a rather large rebound, forcing Lilja to hook and get called for it. The Jackets were slow getting fully set up but finally did get a glorious chance as the power play wound down. Nikolai Zherdev had a sure goal standing our front on the right side of the net but he shot it low and Osgood just barely got his left foot out to make the save.
Detroit was kind of sloppy with the puck in this period, especially out front of their own net. They didn't seem to be giving Osgood very much support and I was a little concerned about it until they assuaged my fears later in the game by tightening down.
After another Columbus power play, the Wings got a try of their own at 13:27. The power play started off very well, with good pressure right off the bat. Robert Lang had a chance out front and the puck ended up on Steve Yzerman's stick to Leclaire's left but he sent it off the side of the net due to the excessively sharp angle. After that initial burst, the puck was cleared and the Wings had a bit of a scattered remainder of the power play. The wrapped it up with some pressure that continued after the Columbus penalty expired but soon got another penalty of their own.
forty-three seconds later, they took another penalty, in their own zone, and handed the Jackets a 5-on-3 power play. They did a good job of killing it off, however, maintaining a very tight diamond formation. Babcock used Yzerman with Chelios and Lidstrom here, which I found a little surprising. The Captain doesn't get a lot of PK time, though the other two certainly do. He did well, though, and is getting back in the swing of things big time.
In the final couple minutes, the Wings made a decent push but Leclaire was strong and didn't allow a goal.
The Wings came out well again in the second but this time they sustained it. They went on the power play at 3:23 and set up a good power play but Leclaire made some very good saves. Tomas Holmstrom was absolutely in his face the entire time and he stopped a few pucks he couldn't possibly have seen but a stopped puck is a stopped puck and it was all due to his strong positioning regardless of the screen.
For all his efforts, Leclaire would allow a goal on the next Red Wings power play, which came less than a minute after the last expired.
The Wings set up, cycled the puck and got the shot they wanted. Pavel Datsyuk, from his usual spot along the right wing, sent the puck to Jason Williams, who had manned the right point the whole PP but had slidden over to the left when Lidstrom went down low. Williams, who may not have the most powerful shot nonetheless has a very quick release, ripped off a shot. Holmstrom was rewarded for his fine work in front of the net and got his stick on the shot, deflecting it down and past Leclaire, who had very little chance to stop it. 1-0 Wings at 7:06.
Just a couple minutes later, Jason Williams connected with Pavel Datsyuk at the Columbus blueline and Pavel took the puck in, almost one step ahead of the Jacket defense. Adam Foote hooked Datsyuk and got a penalty but saved his goalie's rear end by doing so.
The resulting power play was another good one, with Datsyuk making good plays but also with Leclaire making saves. Mikael Samuelsson made a nice moved around the Columbus defense and got off a shot at close range but was stopped. The FSN crew raved about Sammy after that, with Mickey Redmond saying that while he still surprises us, he's starting to less and less "because we're getting so used to seeing it." I have to agree.
The Wings were on a roll, taking good shift after good shift. I'm serious when I say Leclaire was the only reason Columbus was still in it.
Rick Nash laid a dangerous hit from behind on Johan Franzen and got called for boarding at 15:24. The Wings didn't score on the power play but did soon after, at 18:09.
Nick Lidstrom made a great play at the blueline along the boards on Sergei Fedorov and then sent the puck at the net. Mark Mowers somehow deflected it into the net and the Wings went up two on what looked like a harmless shot.
Columbus came right back, and I mean right back
, with a very good scoring chance. Jason Chimera beat Andreas Lilja and broke in on Osgood all alone, letting loose a shot from 13 feet out. Osgood, deep in his own net, somehow made the save and though the Jackets got a couple more shots off immediately after that, that was the closest they came to scoring for the rest of the night.
The third period began with the Wings on the penalty kill, a carryover from the previous period. Columbus generated some good pressure but Osgood was strong and the Wings killed it off.
Four minutes in, the Jackets went on the penalty kill themselves. The Wings set up and got a goal within 39 seconds. Pavel Datsyuk got the puck in the left corner and headed to directly behind the net. But before he got there, he sent a quick pass out front and connected with Holmstrom, who was on the doorstep. Homer one-timed it past Leclaire, who had no chance on that play: it happened too fast. 3-0 Wings at 4:52.
Datsyuk went to the box less than a minute later. After Columbus set up, Kris Draper intercepted a pass at the blueline and got a clear breakaway. And, in vintage Draper style, he sent it about three feet wide on the backhand. Seriously, one of the guys most likely to get a breakaway can't score on them to save his life. I almost died of shock when he did it last season. I guess he's back to being the Kris Draper we know and love (and are immensely frustrated with at times like that!).
Draper wasn't the only one missing the net. Not long after his penalty expired, Datsyuk had a nice chance but sent it high and wide. But it wasn't on a breakaway, Kris.
Nick Lidstrom had a nice shift as the game neared its final ten minutes. He had the puck at the blueline and faced some pressure but he held on to it, skating around with it like he was the only one out there and out-muscling David Vyborny until the latter was forced to take a penalty. Fortunately for him, the Wings didn't score on it but there wasn't much else he could do, with Lidstrom set on keeping the puck like that.
After a couple minutes of four-on-four play (due to coincidental minors), the Wings started to slow the game down a bit for the final few minutes.
They didn't slow it down so much that they didn't try to score, though, and at 18:13, Mathieu Schneider put a cap on the scoring after taking a pass from Samuelsson. His shot from the blueline was slowed down by Leclaire but it trickled through nonetheless. 4-0 Wings on their 41st shot.
The Wings went right back on the penalty kill after that but obviously nothing came of it and the game ended with them on the right end of a 4-0 win. It was Osgood's first shutout this season and his 42nd of his career.
Henrik Zetterberg did not play, as previously reported. Hopefully his hip problem is not a recurrence of the hip flexor injury he had during training camp. ... There were no icings in this game until 2:59 left in the third period, when the Wings iced the puck. ... Tickets for the post-poned November 21st Predators game will be honored at the re-scheduled game on Monday, the 23rd. If you have any questions, call the Wings at (313) 616-7575. ... The Wings killed off all penalties penalties tonight and scored on two of seven power plays. ... Mark Mowers made much of his 4:24 of ice time, with two shots, two hits, and a goal.
*compiled by Brian