OT Magic By The Magic Man: Datsyuk Helps Red Wings Down Blues 3-2


About halfway through Thursday night’s visit to the St. Louis Blues, people were on social media betting on whether the Detroit Red Wings were even going to get eight shots on goal … for the game.

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Then it looked like the Red Wings were going to walk away with two points. Then it appeared they were headed to another shootout. Then Pavel Datsuk happened.

It’s not correct to say that Detroit’s 3-2 overtime victory had a little bit of everything, but it is correct to say the last 35 minutes did.

So let’s fast-forward through the first half of the game, which mostly featured Petr Mrazek making saves to keep things scoreless. He had just done more of that, stopping David Backes on a rush and Jaden Schwartz on the rebound, when Joakim Andersson, of all people, got the Wings on the board. He finished off a great shift by the entire fourth line by jamming a puck in through (not literally) Brian Elliott‘s left leg for his first goal of the season at the 18:04 mark of the second period.

Someone who scores slightly more often, Tomas Tatar, was spotted in front of the net a minute later, doing some nice stickhandling in a tight space and roofing the puck for his team-leading 18th tally. The Wings, who had been outshot badly over the first 30 minutes, suddenly found themselves up 2-0 at the second intermission.

Yet two points were hardly in the bag. The Blues kept testing Mrazek, and their hottest player found a way to beat him. Backes deflected a point shot on the power play through Mrazek’s legs for his seventh goal in the last five games, drawing his team to within a goal.

It remained that way even after Gustav Nyquist appeared to score a power play goal of his own, only to see it waved off for goalie interference by Justin Abdelkader. Ken Hitchcock pulled Elliott with around 1:20 to play, and Alexander Steen capitalized on a poor Detroit line change to knot things at 2-2 with only 48 seconds left in regulation.

The goalies exchanged nice saves in the overtime period, and it looked like the game would head to a shootout. But looks can be deceiving when the Magic Man is on the ice, and Datsyuk managed to squeeze a shot through on the short side that found the twine with 2.2 seconds showing on the clock.

I don’t have a screen capture of Hitchock’s face, but suffice it to say, it looked similar to this …

Oct 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock watches his team during the third period against the Calgary Flames at Scottrade Center. The Blues defeated the Flames 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

… only with more disbelief.

In any case, it was one heck of a finish to a six-game road trip that improbably saw the Red Wings go 4-2 despite losing Jimmy Howard to injury along the way. They now head back home for three straight, beginning with another former division rival, the Nashville Predators, on Saturday night.

The game was over when …

The referees conferred and I guess checked things out to make sure Datsyuk’s goal was okay. I’m not sure what they were investigating. Maybe they couldn’t believe it either and just had to make sure. It counted, and that’s all that matters.

The unsung Red Wings hero was …

Since some players who usually quietly have good games actually made the score sheet — Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey, I’m looking at you — we’ll go with Darren Helm. As always when he’s feeling right, his speed made things uncomfortable for the Blues on several occasions. He also drew two penalties, had the best faceoff percentage on the team and helped kill power plays. That’s a good night.

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