Friday night at Joe Louis Arena the Blues faced a slightly different Detroit team than the one they ambushed 6-0 in the first game of the season. The Wings had Todd Bertuzzi back in the lineup and, more importantly for them, Henrik Zetterberg was healthy and made his presence felt in a big way. The Detroit captain scored three goals, the last an unorthodox empty-netter to seal the victory for the Red Wings.
The Wings scored early in the five-minute power play to go ahead 4-3, and the Blues never had much of a chance to regroup after that. I’m not going to go on and on about the call, you can read about that elsewhere. I’ve cooled off enough to be realistic about the whole situation. Fact is, Detroit beat the Blues at their own game very early on, and St. Louis shouldn’t have put themselves in the position to allow horrible officiating to effect the outcome.
The refs were calling anything and everything from the get-go Friday night. The Wings took an early 1-0 lead on Zetterberg’s first goal, a power-play score. He struck again on a breakaway to make it 2-0 Wings. The Blues looked shaky but managed to calm things down, thanks in part to the plethora of penalties being called. St. Louis got a power-play goal of their own from Kevin Shattenkirk, his first goal of the season, and tied it up on a beautiful stretch pass by Vladimir Tarasenko to a streaking Matt D’Agostini who scored his first goal of the season to tie it 2-2. Dags has 6 goals and 2assists in his lat thirteen games v. Detroit.
Jaroslav Halak left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the 1st period. Brian Elliot took over and worked hard to keep the game tied as the Blues killed off another penalty in the last 2 minutes. The Blues were outshot 14-13, the first time this season they’ve been out-shot to start a game.
The 2nd period was a very tight checking affair as both teams settled into a sort of rhythm. The Blues finally took the lead on a power-play goal by Patrik Berglund off a Backes rebound. St. Louis played their game in the 2nd, back-checking well, playing solid team defense, and neither club managed any dangerous, odd-man rushes. Elliot was helped by the crossbar and the Blues continued stout penalty killing. A dazzling play by David Perron (becoming more and more common) nearly led to a shorthanded goal by Vladimir Sobotka and Jimmy Howard had to stand on his head to keep the game 3-2.
The Blues couldn’t carry the momentum into the 3rd period and the Wings tied it up early, taking advantage of a delayed penalty with an extra attacker, on a soft goal through Elliot. Jaden Schwartz and the fourth line looked strong in the 3rd, cycling the puck well in the Detroit zone, but failed to get any decent scoring chances on Howard. I thought Ells looked a bit shaky as the period wore on, like he wasn’t quite seeing the puck as well as he often does, but neither team managed to solve the other and take control of the game. Then came the Backes “penalty.” The Wings scored to make it 4-3 and with time winding down the Blues pulled Elliot. Zetterberg scored his third, sealing the deal and dealing St. Louis its 2nd loss.
The NHL has since rescinded the call against Backes, essentially rendering it a non-call and striking it from his record. Glad to know he wont be further punished for something he clearly didn’t do, but it won’t give the Blues much comfort after the loss. Prior to any NHL action Sunday they sit 4 points behind Chicago for the Western conference lead. St. Louis has the weekend off and play again Tuesday at home versus Nashville, another divisional opponent. Here’s hoping the boys have short memories, don’t party too much Sunday, and get back to playing four line for sixty minutes.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!