Roberto Luongo may very well be the best netminder on the planet, but it was the Wings that had the better goalie tonight. Jimmy Howard played a fantastic game, his second in as many nights. He did all the things — WAIT FOR IT — a goalie is supposed to do: make the saves to give his team a chance to win.
You can’t say that the defense tightened up, because they allowed eleventy billion shots*, but – like I mentioned yesterday – they seem to be learning that Howard coughs up monstrous rebounds, and they’re clearing them better than they were in the first dozen games of the season.
Luongo played well in his first game back from a rib injury/the flu. It’d be hard to fault him for any of the Wings three goals: Homer doing what Homer does, an unbelievable backhand from Z, and an empty netter to seal the game, 3-1.
*Note: actual number closer to 32.
1. THAT’S HOW YOU HONOR THE CAPTAIN. Tonight was Steve Yzerman Night at the Joe, and the Wings did him proud – unlike the Hall of Fame game in Toronto on Saturday
2. Mikael Samuelsson is still finding a way to shaft the Red Wings. He was rather quiet, as far as the scoresheet goes, but in the second period he high-sticked his own man (raise your hand if you’re surprised by his lack of self-awareness), and Brad Stuart got called for a penalty.
3. Ryan Kesler and Henrik Zetterberg had an awesome joust for sixty minutes. Constantly grabbing and shoving one another, even to the point that they were violently jockeying for position before a faceoff. If this was a playoff series, those two guys would be dead tired by Game 4.
4. Speaking of Z, that backhand he threw over Luongo’s shoulder was menacing. Great breakout pass from Brad Stuart, great job by Z to shake some defenders, and a perfectly placed shot.
5. For the second night in a row, Brad May was involved in an ill-advised fight. The Wings weren’t winning 2-0 tonight, but they DID have possession of the puck in the offensive zone. Not exactly the best time for the gloves to come off. Oh, and if you’re keeping score at home, he lost again.
6. Lots of hate in the building tonight. These two teams don’t seem to care for one another – lots of extra-curricular activity between the whistles. On more than one occasion, Alex Burrows did everything he could to goad Todd Bertuzzi into attacking him from behi– I mean, fight like a man. Bertuzzi, by the way, was doing his best Mikael Samuelsson impression: once, on a breakaway, by firing the puck directly into the logo on Luongo’s chest. A little later, he shot the puck into the 16th row.
7. The penalty kill was good tonight. They were 4/5 – including killing some 5-on-3 time.
8. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure the stripes are on the Canuck payroll. Aside from that Samuelsson/Stuart conundrum, the Wings only had two power plays: they scored on the first, and kept possession for nearly the entire two minutes on the second.
9. For a while, the shots were vehemently one-sided for the Canucks. If memory serves me, it was 26-12 at one point.
10. Finally, the best moment of the night was Homer’s goal. It popped in and out so quickly, no one noticed and play kept going. So he scored again.
The Wings play the Ducks on Saturday. Another home game.