February 23, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) makes a save on a shot by Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher (12) as Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk (13) defends in the second period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Red Wings: 4 - Nashville Predators: 0; Detroit Turns the Predators into Prey

Finally, some success.

The Red Wings snapped a 5-game losing streak against the Nashville Predators Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena with a convincing 4-0 win. Detroit dominated in all zones and received a Vezina-calibre performance from Jimmy Howard, as well as -gasp- production from the checking lines! I’ve missed watching these Red Wings; I like them a lot better than the team I watched for the five games before this.

Detroit opened the scoring in the first period when Drew Miller knocked in a rebound off of a point shot from Niklas Kronwall. Seeing bottom six production from this team is always a good thing, as players like Datsyuk and Zetterberg can’t carry the offense on their own. Tomas Tatar added to the stat sheet for checking line forwards with a beautiful goal in close on Pekka Rinne in the second period. Calling him a bottom six forward seems kind of wrong, though…he has more points than Abdelkader and Cleary put together, and yet doesn’t get a promotion to the second line? Tatar and Datsyuk could really do some damage together if Babcock gave them a chance. Jordin Tootoo almost made it 3-0 against his former team later in the period, but his shot barely scraped Rinne’s glove and bounced off the crossbar. Thankfully Kronwall made up for that unfortunate bounce with a lucky almost-miss on a one-timer that slipped past Rinne on the glove side to increase Detroit’s lead to 3.

February 23, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Drew Miller (20) receives congratulations from teammates at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The score remained 3-0 until the third period, when Cleary showed a quick flash of his -potential- to be a second line forward next to Pavel Datsyuk by means of a beautiful redirect of a Niklas Kronwall shot. The goal was only Cleary’s second of the season and his fourth point, but is hopefully a sign of him turning his game around and playing like he did in 2010-2011. With Bertuzzi and Franzen still out, Cleary remains an integral part of Detroit’s offense, and needs to perform as such.

Jimmy Howard came up big all game, as his team was heavily outshot through the first half of the game despite controlling the pace for most of it. Especially impressive were a pair of pad stops on Matt Halischuk and Colin Wilson in the first period. His numbers may be down, but this game was part of a long-standing series of proof that this is more the fault of the defense corps in front of him than his own.

My three stars of the game:

1) Jimmy Howard: 32 saves, shutout

2) Niklas Kronwall: Goal, 2 Assists

3) Pavel Datsyuk: 2 Assists

A few random notes:

– C’mon, Cleary. Play like this every game. This is the first time I’ve seen you play like you care in an extraordinarily long time. Still though, nothing’s gonna be enough to get you a contract next year.

– Tomas Tatar deserves top six minutes. Even when Franzen and Bertuzzi come back. His hands in small spaces are ridiculous.

– I haven’t seen Howard play a bad game all season. His numbers might be off, but he has a really porous (and broken) defense corps in front of him.

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter: @dzkefalas



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Tags: Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard Nashville Predators Niklas Kronwall Pekka Rinne Tomas Tatar

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