On a night that celebrated a big part of the Detroit Red Wings’ storied past, it was the present that gave fans more to worry about.
Nicklas Lidstrom received the honor he so rightfully deserved, having his number 5 hoisted to join the other Red Wings greats at Joe Louis Arena. For a time, it looked like the team would make the night complete with a victory over an old rival from Lidstrom’s time, the Colorado Avalanche.
But these young, speedy Avs are hard to put away. Colorado twice fought back from deficits and ended an eventful overtime period when defenseman Andre Benoit scored with just over 30 seconds left in the extra frame to send Detroit to a 3-2 defeat.
At least the Red Wings got one point out of this one, unlike the last minute loss to the Devils on Tuesday. Niklas Kronwall helped them on their way, scoring on a nifty backhand at the 12:33 mark of the first period to put the home team up 1-0. The Wings outshot the Avs 13-8 over the first 20 minutes and killed off a power play without allowing a shot on goal.
A fluky goal by Matt Duchesne off the skate of Johan Franzen evened things up halfway through the second, but the Red Wings power play managed to regain the lead. Late in a penalty to Nick Holden, Riley Sheahan made a determined play in the corner and found Tomas Jurco for his fith goal of the year. New acquisition David Legwand picked up his first point in Detroit with the secondary assist.
Patirck Roy’s players continued to look dangerous even while being out-shot, and they caught the Red Wings a bit flat-footed to knot the game 2-2 in the third. Duchesne was able to control the puck with one hand while skating behind the net, and PA Parenteau controlled the bouncing pass to fire home a backhand by Jimmy Howard with 14:11 remaining in regulation.
That meant overtime, something the Red Wings are all too familiar with this season. And it wasn’t boring, as penalties to Kronwall and Paul Stastny provided fans with 53 seconds of 3-on-3 action. Both were out of the box when dynamic rookie Nathan MacKinnon found himself strangely alone deep in the Detroit end, and his pass to a streaking Benoit left Howard defenseless for the game-winner.
MacKinnon broke a record set by a guy named Wayne Gretzky by running his consecutive point streak as a rookie to 13 games. Veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 35 of 37 shots in a winning effort, while Howard made 22 saves on 25 shots.
The night wasn’t a total disaster for the Red Wings, who at least managed a point while seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals — all teams they’d like to catch or stay ahead of in the playoff race — all go down to defeat. But two points would have been better, especially with the New Jersey Devils already in town, getting well rested for Friday night’s game.
And there won’t even be a jersey retirement to get the engines revved for that one.
The game was over when …
The Red Wings couldn’t put the game away in regulation, leaving their injury-depleted squad facing the speedy legs of the Avs with so much extra room to move in overtime. They survived one close call when a Franzen turnover almost led to a Duchesne breakaway, but Detroit was clearly playing with fire in the extra frame, and it wasn’t a huge shock when the visitors made the play to win it.
The unsung Red Wings hero was …
How about a shout for Joakim Andersson? Ideally, he wouldn’t be the Wings’ second line center, but these are far from ideal circumstances. He had a nice shorthanded chance during regulation, helped kill off the overtime penalty, and his line gave Giguere some trouble in the second period.