I didn’t take notes on the game, so I can only offer a few thoughts, not a comprehensive summary.
… Big story of the night: Johan Franzen left the game in the second period, not long after Pavel Datsyuk scored to make it 1-1, and did not return. According to Helene St. James, he didn’t practice yesterday due to the same injury (contradicting Babcock’s “Mule’s fine” comment) but apparently he felt good to go before the game.
Hopefully Franzen’s not going to be out for long because he was a big loss against the Kings. His tendency to shoot first, ask questions later, would have come in handy at some points later in the game.
Also, you may have noticed Danny Markov was missing from the lineup. According to St. James, he’s not hurt, he was just being given the night off, in favor of Andreas Lilja, who was in need of some playing time.
… The Wings came out flat and paid for it as the Kings took a one-goal lead in the first period. A bad turnover by Niklas Kronwall led directly to the goal, and it was too early in his return to expect Dominik Hasek to be 100% sharp on the play, especially after Kronwall failed to clear the net. Not Nik’s best game by a long shot.
The team as a whole looked out of sync for much of the first half of the game, whereas the Kings were battling hard and earning their lead.
… One positive thing was that there were few penalties called, so the flow of the game wasn’t disrupted so much. Only two penalties in the first two periods combined, followed by three in the third. Of course, the final call was an unfortunate one as it put the Wings on a 4-on-3 penalty kill to start overtime.
… Sean Burke was steady the whole game, though to be honest, he didn’t have to shine all that often. The Wings put 54 shots on net but the majority of them were low percentage perimeter shots or C-grade offensive chances. Not to take anything away from Burke, he had a great game. But the Wings did not put on their best performance offensively. The Kings, to their credit, put up a pretty good stand on the defensive side, though, which contributed to the Wings’ offensive hiccups.
… I noticed Matt Ellis a lot tonight. The man was obviously pumped from becoming a father, as he was everywhere when on the ice. He finished with only 8:22 in ice-time, but came close to scoring his first NHL goal a number of times.
… Good to see Brett Lebda channel Bobby Orr and/or Paul Coffey on his (literally) coast-to-coast goal in the third. Brett’s got the best wheels on the team, I think, and showed he’s got some great hands to go with them with that impressive finish. One of the top highlight reel goals of the season for both the Wings and the League, I’d say.
… Late in the third, the Wings had a power play but got far too cute in their attempts at scoring. They had Burke beat down low multiple times but made two or three too many passes and blew their chances.
… Nice penalty by Robert Lang at the end of regulation. I was a bit surprised when Mike Babcock put Andreas “Relative Pylon” Lilja out there with Chris Chelios and Kris Draper for the 4-on-3 penalty kill in OT. Fortunately, Lilja played it well and my fears were unnecessary.
… Nice give and go by Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk for the game winner. Poor Aaron Miller had no chance to defend the play, having committed to Datsyuk just as Pavel dished it right back to Samuelsson for the slam dunk.
Of course, I look foolish for saying in my preview Samuelsson probably wouldn’t figure much into the game. I admit it. I was surprised. He looked good in his return, though he looks real good for having scored a goal handed to him on a silver platter by Datsyuk. Hopefully it was just the first in a series of goals for Sammy.
… The win put the Wings one point behind Nashville in the Central Division title race. They have one more game in hand, Sunday’s matchup with Boston, before the big mid-March home-and-home showdown.
… Also, Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond said not to expect Henrik Zetterberg or Todd Bertuzzi back until after the team’s trip to Vancouver and Calgary later this month, saying that the Wings would probably rather not have the two make the six hour flight out there with their backs having just healed. If they’re right, that would mean a March 22nd return, at the earliest.