Three Questions: Wings-Blue Jackets
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 39th game
Goaltender Ty Conklin saw a little competition Tuesday night in counterpart Steve Mason, one of the top rookies in the NHL, but the Wings’ netminder prevailed. Conklin, making his first start since the Wings’ win at the NHL Winter Classic, turned away 23 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season. Conklin has been enjoying tending to the pipes at Joe Louis Arena recently; he has back-to-back shutouts in the Wings’ last two home games. Conklin shut out the Chicago Blackhawks on December 30 before the big game at Wrigley Field.
Conklin, 14-5-1 on the season, weathered a third-period storm from the Blue Jackets, turning away 10 shots to complete the shutout. However, his best save came at the midway point of the first period. With the Red Wings on an early penalty-kill, Blue Jackets center Michael Peca took a pass on the right side of Conklin’s net. With a wide-open net to shoot at, Peca was looking at a sure goal, until Conklin dove across. Stretching out with his glove hand, Conklin was able to sprawl across his crease and get his arm on the shot, robbing Peca and landing himself on the highlight shows tomorrow morning.
What got the Red Wings the win?
When you have the NHL’s best power play, you do not get shut out very often. The Red Wings man-advantage unit, which was converting at 27.7 percent heading into Tuesday, couldn’t find the back of the net in the second period. But they came through in the third, with Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa both scoring power-play goals in the first six minutes of the final period. The Wings’ power-play unit has been on a tear of late, and it continued into Tuesday night. Detroit continues to be dominant on the man-advantage at home, converting 19 of 83, for a 23 percent conversion rate. However, they are even more impressive on the road, where they have converted 33.8 percent of their chances.
How did Pavel Datsyuk crack the scoreless tie?
After scoring the shoot-out winner last game (if you haven’t seen his goal, you should look it up), Datsyuk came through for the Wings once again Tuesday. Detroit was staring down a scoreless tie heading into the third period, and Datsyuk broke it open with an impressive performance on the power play three minutes in. The Wings’ leading scorer made a cross-ice pass to captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who fired a low shot towards the goal. Tomas Holmstrom got his stick on the shot, redirecting it so that goaltender Steve Mason couldn’t control the rebound. Datsyuk, always moving towards the right spot, cut to the front of the net just in time to find the rebound land on his stick. He made no mistake, firing the puck into a wide-open net for his 17th goal of the season.
Datsyuk, who also assisted on Hossa’s goal as well, made yet another highlight reel play in the closing moments. Ater losing his stick at the blue line in front of his own bench, Datsyuk actually kicked the puck up to Henrik Zetterberg, who buried the empty-net goal. It was Datsyuk’s third point of the night, and he got mobbed by his teammates right after making the play.