DETROIT – In hindsight, Jordin Tootoo’s disallowed goal in the first period might have made a difference Wednesday night.
But in the end, the Red Wings just didn’t play good enough to defeat the streaking Minnesota Wild, who claimed their fourth straight win – and sixth in their last seven games – by beating the Red Wings, 4-2, at Joe Louis Arena.
“To me, that had nothing to do with the outcome of tonight’s game,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, of the waved off goal that would have tied the score at 1-1. “We take full credit for what happened here tonight and the bottom line is we have to be better than we were.”
Despite outshooting the Wild, 38-19, and creating several good scoring chances, the Red Wings struggled to get second chances in front of Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, especially on their five power-play chances. Detroit had 11 shots on the power play, but only managed to beat Backstrom once with a man-advantage when Drew Miller scored with 24-seconds left in regulation.
“We’re not really happy with a lot of things that went on today,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We had some energy in the first period and did some good things after the first five minutes. We got back to playing hockey. We have to score on our power play. It’s as simple as that. They won the specialty teams battle today and that’s what cost us the game.
“The bounces come when you work hard and that’s something you have to earn. If we would have stuck with it … I don’t think we did that tonight.”
Trailing 1-0 late in the first period, Tootoo appeared to score from the right side of the net. But the controversial goal was immediately waved off by referee Dave Jackson, who signaled that Miller knocked the puck out of the air with a high-stick. However, a replay appeared to show the puck making contact with Dany Heatley’s left hand, not Miller’s stick.
Because Tootoo touched the puck after Miller’s apparent high-stick, Jackson whistled the play dead. The referees did not go to video review, as only scoring plays resulting from suspected high sticks are reviewable. According to the NHL’s official rulebook, Section 10, Rule 80.1, “When a puck is struck with a high stick and subsequently comes into the possession and control of a player from the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official, there shall be a whistle.”
The play started with Tootoo bursting into the offensive zone on the left wing, where he ripped the puck away from defenseman Jared Spurgeon along the half wall before lofting a back-hand pass to the front of the net. Miller and Heatley met the puck in front of Backstrom where the Wild’s veteran forward swatted the puck to the right of the net. While it was easy to understand how Jackson – who was positioned behind the Minnesota net – mistakenly thought Miller’s stick struck the puck, the quick whistle was disappointing.
At the time, a goal by the Red Wings could have changed the complexity of the game, especially since they had out-shot the Wild, 17-5, through the first 20-minutes of Wednesday’s game.
“The guys said that it hit (Heatley’s) glove,” Miller said. “I was going through with two guys on each side of me, so I wasn’t sure if it was one of them that hit my stick or hit my body. So I wasn’t sure if I hit it or not. … The ref made the call on the ice, and that’s the way it stood. It’s a tough one.”
With just 18 games remaining in the lockout compressed schedule, the Red Wings begin another tough stretch with six of the next eight games on the road. They will play the next two against the Ducks at Anaheim’s Honda Center on Friday and Sunday
“You have to take advantage of the games you’re playing and get your points,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you don’t the train is leaving.”
THREE STARS: 3, Niklas Backstrom, MIN (36 saves, W); 2, Gustav Nyquist, DET (1 goal); 1, Devin Setoguchi, MIN (2 goals).
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