The Wings were short a few skaters for their first game after the All-Star break, and it only got worse Tuesday night. Coach Mike Babcock had to make due without his two all-stars, captain Nicklas Lidstrom
and center Pavel Datsyuk
, who were both suspended for tonight’s game for not appearing at the NHL All-Star game last weekend. Defenseman Brad Stuart
wasn’t available either, out with a rib injury he suffered before the break. The Wings were only able to dress 17 players due to the injuries, because they are unable to call anyone up from Grand Rapids due to salary cap restrictions. That meant that Babcock was working with only 11 forwards, with the plan to cycle someone into the fourth line center spot between Kirk Maltby and Tomas Kopecky.
The line-up got even scarier for the Hockeytown faithful, however, when Henrik Zetterberg
left during the first period. Hank played 5:58 in the first period, and picked up an assist on the first Wings’ goal, but then headed to the Detroit dressing room after taking a few hard hits along the boards. After he failed to return to the ice, it was announced that the Wings’ assistant captain was suffering from back spasms.
Knocking off the rust after an extended break became even more difficult for a short-handed roster. Babcock was down to 16 usable skaters, which is only three lines and one extra skater. Hopefully Lidstrom and Datsyuk will be able to shake off their lingering injuries and return to the line-up for the Wings’ home game Thursday night.
Who picked up the slack?
Chris Chelios played a great game to help fill Lidstrom’s void on the blue line Tuesday night. The future hall-of-fame defenseman skated for 17:08, the most action he’s seen all year due to his recovery from a broken leg sustained during the preseason. He killed penalties, he played well even-strength, and he even did his part to get the Wings onto the power play. At the 8:12 mark of the first period, Chelios drew a holding call on Derek Dorsett behind the Detroit goal, and the Wings were able to capitalize on the power play, with Marian Hossa adding his 23rd goal of the season. Then, in the second period, he drew another penalty – a high-sticking call on Jared Boll. Along to help were Brian Rafalski, who led the defense in ice time with 27:43, and Johan Franzen
, who led the forwards with 23:22.What went wrong?
To make matters worse, the Wings ran into some bad bounces, which led to Columbus captain Rick Nash’s hat trick. Nash’s second goal hit Rafalski’s stick and managed to sneak into the short-side top shelf area right above goaltender Chris Osgood. Then, in overtime, an errant puck off of two or three players out front found its way to Nash’s stick, allowing him to put it into an empty net for the game-winner. It was an unfair ending for Osgood, who played well in goal for Detroit. He turned away 20 shots and got caught in bad situations with the bounces and a shorthanded breakway for Nash in the second period.