The Detroit Red Wings took on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City for a matinee game on Sunday. The Wings rallied from a 2-0 deficit with five unanswered goals in the second period and then hung on to steal a 5-4 win on the road in front of a national audience on NBC. Before Sunday’s afternoon game, head coach Mike Babcock described the Blackhawks as the “best team in the NHL right now” in part because of their depth up front so it was a great road win for Detroit.
After allowing two goals by Chicago in the first period, the Wings responded in the middle frame with a five-goal surge. Defenseman Brian Rafalski carried his Olympic-scoring success into yesterday’s game, teeing off a blast from the left point to bring Detroit within one goal (2-1) less than five minutes into the second period. The power-play goal came during the Wings’ 4-on-3 man-advantage. Just 28 seconds later, the Wings evened it up at 2-2 when Valtteri Filppula sent the puck from the left corner to captain Nick Lidstrom at the mid-point. With Todd Bertuzzi screening Chicago netminder Cristobal Huet down low, Lidstrom’s shot beat Huet during 4-on-4 play.
Blackhawks’ head coach Joel Quenneville had to pull Huet after he allowed four goals on eight shots in the second period. The Red Wings grabbed their first lead of the afternoon when Henrik Zetterberg slid a perfect pass to Jason Williams, who was rushing up the slot drawing two Blackhawks defenders, for the quick goal. In a two-on-one rush, Bertuzzi made a nice heads-up play, getting the puck to Filppula who found himself all alone and made a nice deke to best Huet for a 4-2 Detroit advantage. With 2.7 seconds left in the middle frame, Datsyuk created a turnover along the Wings’ blue line and then rushed up the ice. He broke in alone on goalkeeper Antti Niemi, moving the puck from his forehand to backhand before sliding the puck through Niemi’s five-hole to put an exclamation point on Detroit’s five-goal second-period comeback.
Unfortunately, some bad news did come out of the second period for the Red Wings. MLive.com reported that Bertuzzi left the game “late in the second period with an apparent knee injury after a collision along the boards with Ben Eager and Jordan Hendry.” About five minutes into the third period, NBC announced that Bertuzzi would not return to the game due to a lower-body injury.
Early into the third stanza, Chicago got on the scoreboard once again when Andrew Ladd netted his second goal of the afternoon to make it a 5-3 game. Hats rained down on the United Center ice when Ladd recorded his first career hat trick at the 12:06 mark of the third period, but Detroit managed to hang on for the 5-4 win and grabbed two key points in the Western Conference standings. Wings’ netminder Jimmy Howard made 28 saves in the win.
Wings top Predators on Friday
- Not only did the Wings pick up a big 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday evening, but captain Nick Lidstrom notched his 800th career assist wearing the Winged Wheel. Lidstrom joins the likes of Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, and Alex Delvecchio in the exclusive Red Wings’ 800-plus assist club.
- Prior to Friday’s game, the Wings honored Lidstrom with the Carharrt Hardest Working Player of the Month award for his play in January and February.
- Forward Darren Helm ended his 19-game scoring drought in the Wings’ victory against the Preds, potting two goals including a shorthanded tally in the game.
- DRW.com noted the reaction of Helm, Lidstrom, and Babcock to Helm’s two-goal game on Friday.
- Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz attended Friday’s game alongside the Lions’ free-agent pick up, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. DRW.com spoke to Schwartz about the Wings and Vanden Bosch’s apprehension to wear the Winged Wheel after just returning from a vacation with Nashville’s captain Jason Arnott.
- The DRW bloggers recap the game and Lidstrom’s milestone achievement: Babcock’s Death Stare, Bingo Bango, Eight Legged Freaks, Fight Night at the Joe, Hockeytown Static, Hockeytown USA, On the Wings, Red Wings Blog, Snipe Snipe, Dangle Dangle, The Production Line, Unconnected Red Wings Blog, Winging It In Motown, Wings Win, Eh?, and Word on a Wing.
In Other News
- The gold-medal win by Team Canada has the media talking plenty about Wings’ management who played a role in the Canadian win, including Steve Yzerman and Ken Holland. The Detroit Free Press reports that the McGill University tie that coach Mike Babcock wore during the Olympics has boosted sales of the tie over the last week.
- George Malik at Snapshots rounds up some scuttlebutt on Sunday, including some news about the Wings’ NCAA prospects Brendan Smith (Wisconsin) and Gustav Nyquist (Maine). The blog also links to three different articles about some of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ players in their Griffiti publication.
- The Grand Rapids Press talked to the two new Griffins players after they were acquired by the Wings before the trade deadline.
- Chris McCosky of The Detroit News writes that he believes the biggest worry facing Babcock will be goaltending in the coming weeks.
- McCosky also notes that Brett Lebda will return to the third defensive pairing alongside Andreas Lilja. MLive.com reminds readers that Lilja was Lebda’s former defensive partner before Lilja had to sit out a year due to injury.
- The Red Wings hosted the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) at Thursday’s practice as Snapshots points out.
- The Ogemaw County Herald references an article you will be able to find in Red Wings Today, the Wings’ official gameday program, starting on March 13. For the Winter Olympics, Operation Homefront paired a wounded soldier with each of the 23 U.S. players. Wings’ defenseman Brian Rafalski was adopted by West Branch, Mich., native Sgt. Damon Suiter.