Heading into Wednesday night, the Detroit Red Wings hadn’t played a game without both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg since the spring of 2006. Judging by what happened when the Philadelphia Flyers came to town, it’s a good thing it doesn’t happen very often.
Tomas Tatar picked up the offensive slack left by the two injured superstars with two goals, but the story of the night was an ugly third period that had fans leaving Joe Louis Arena before the clock hit zero. The Flyers exploded for four third period goals, earning a rare come from behind victory in Detroit and leaving the hosts in disarray after a 6-3 loss.
Thanks to Tatar and Johan Franzen, the Red Wings had a 3-2 lead and a short carry-over power play when they took the ice to start the third. It didn’t last long. With Stephen Weiss off for hooking, Claude Giroux shot through an excellent screen by Wayne Simmonds to beat Jimmy Howard high and knot things at 3-3 at the 5:15 mark.
Sean Couturier gave the Flyers a lead they would not relinquish just over three minutes later, part of his first ever four-point night. He simply went to the net and stayed there after a Matt Read shot missed, finding himself completely unattended to as he knocked in the follow-up shot.
Jakub Kindl went to the box immediately after that, allowing Scott Hartnell to drive a stake in the heart of the Wings with his turnaround shot on the power play (one on which Kyle Quincey was noticeably slow to rotate). Detroit pulled Howard with around two minutes left in regulation, but all that did was give an empty net to Couturier, who scored from center ice for his second of the game in the final minute.
The Flyers went a perfect 3-for-3 with the man advantage after failing to find the net on nine straight power plays coming into the game. In contrast, the Red Wings went 1-for-7, letting the visitors off the hook for several mindless penalties in the middle of the contest—including a completely unprovoked roughing by Hartnell on Gustav Nyquist and a scary looking hit from the back by Luke Schenn on Justin Abdelkader, one on which he was fortunate to get only two minutes in the box.
Injuries or not, the loss was just another depressing effort on home ice for the Red Wings, who can’t seem to play a full 60 minutes of winning hockey in Detroit. They’re now just 5-5-6 this season at the Joe, perhaps part of the reason that more emptty seats are starting to creep into the picture on TV.
Mike Babcock will have more sleepless nights trying to rectify that situation, and now he has to worry about what kind of team he has without Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the the lineup. If what we just saw is any indication, it’s not one that knows how to do what it takes to win.
The game was over when:
The PK unit failed to show up at the Joe. A couple of the Red Wings penalties were ill advised, but the Flyers had even more of that variety, and they managed just fine. Not having Pavel and Hank hurts the shorthanded unit too, of course, but even one kill could have changed the outcome of the game. On Wednesday, even that proved to be too difficult.
The unsung Red Wings hero was:
(This award has been suspended by the Octopus Thrower brass on account of the sorry effort in the third period. No trophies for anyone!)