No one likes when fans of other teams whine about the refs, but even trying to take our site’s obvious bias out of the equation, it’s hard to say the Detroit Red Wings don’t have a legitimate gripe about the two decisive goals the Montreal Canadiens scored on Saturday night.
One goal was scored after Brian Gionta appeared to back his way into the Detroit zone before having control of the puck, which should have made him offsides. The other bounced off a player in the crease who appeared to interfere with goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Both were questionable, but both ended up standing, ruining a furious rally from three goals down to send the Red Wings to a 5-3 loss.
Not that coach Mike Babcock is likely to say his team deserved to win, because the first 40 minutes were marked with numerous defensive lapses and all-around sloppiness. The Habs got on the board first, with Michael Bournival taking advantage of a neutral zone turnover and a rebound from a Ryan White shot that gave him an open net 14:16 in.
The Red Wings responded by turning up the pressure on Carey Price, out-shooting the hosts 15-4 in the second period. But the Canadiens made the most of their chances, as Max Pacioretty powered by the defense to go in on Gustavsson alone for his 39th goal of the season, and Gionta found himself completely unmarked in front to knock in a puck that bounced off the back boards to make it 3-0 Montreal going into the second break.
Detroit’s power play got rolling to make it a game. Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall both scored with the man advantage (making up for an unsuccessful 5-on-3 earlier on), sandwiched around a historic even strength goal: the first NHL tally for Luke Glendening, ending 50-plus games of futility. Five minutes of hockey had changed the momentum of the game, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
The first controversy came at the 13:13 mark, when Gionta looked like he tried and failed to control the puck while skating backwards across the Detroit blue line. The linesman gave his okay, and his sharp angle shot from the boards was saved by Gustavsson but bounced off defenseman Brian Lashoff and into the net.
Detroit’s goalie had an even bigger beef just over two minutes later, when Alex Galchenyuk was credited with a goal that bounced off him while standing in the Red Wings’ crease. Replays showed that he made contact with Gustavsson, but goaltender interference is not reviewable, and the goal stood even after a check with the replay officials.
It was a sour end to a roller coaster night for Gustavsson, who made a number of highlight quality saves before and during the Detroit rally, but still ended up surrendering five goals on just 26 shots. Price stopped 34 of 37 shots, and Alexei Emelin made his presence felt all night with multiple thunderous hits. Tomas Jurco ended up having enough of the Habs defenseman in the closing minutes, engaging him in a brief scuffle that left both men in the penalty box.
A win would have left Detroit’s playoff positioning a lot more comfortable, but the truth is that the team didn’t play well enough for two points even before the calls started going the other way. With only four games left in the regular season, this was one the Wings will just have shake off.
The game was over when …
Obviously, the dicey Montreal goals didn’t help. But the second period is where Detroit missed the most opportunities, failing to take advantage of a huge differential in shots on goal and coming up empty on the 5-on-3 power play. Change those, change the outcome, maybe.
The unsung Red Wings hero was …
I usually like giving this honor to someone who doesn’t get in the box score in a meaningful way, but how can I not single out Glendening? Despite setting a franchise record for a forward for goalless games to start his NHL career, the guy simply keeps working hard. His goal came just 36 seconds after Datsyuk got the team going and helped make things interesting, to say the least.
Tags: Detroit Red Wings