Why the Ducks Won: They kept to their preferred matchups, stifling the Wings’ offense to win 2-1. Marchant, Miller, and Rob Niedermayer were on the ice every time Datsyuk, Holmstrom, and Hossa were. As a result, the Wings’ strategy of putting a body in front of the net and banging away at rebounds never got on track. They took shots from the point, but these were routinely swallowed up by the Ducks’ defense.
Anaheim’s transition game was especially quick in all parts of the ice. They intercepted passes and charged into the Wings’ end before Detroit could get reset. Their scoring ultimately came on an individual effort by Teemu Selanne and a power play tally by Scott Niedermayer.
Why the Red Wings Lost: They allowed the Ducks to draw them off their game, responding to Anaheim’s roughhouse tactics after plays had ceased. The game ended with Getzlaf and Zetterberg tussling. Detroit outshot the Ducks 46-23, but most of their attempts were seen by Hiller. Rebounds were few.
Aside from their one power play goal, which came just seconds after the drop of the puck to start the man advantage, the Wings never got their power play set up. They had two power play chances late in the game. On one, three successive slapshots by Samuelsson, one blocked and the other two swallowed by Hiller, had the Swede shaking his head and kicking away snow with his stick as he headed back to the Detroit bench. On the night, twelve of their shots came with the extra man.
The Key Moment: The Ducks lost two defensemen on one play in the second period. Scott Niedermayer was gone for two minutes on a hooking penalty. James Wisniewski was taken off on a stretcher after taking a puck to the chest. He did not return. On the power play which ensued, the Wings scored. They also put a puck behind Hiller late in the third period, but the play was blown dead just before the puck crossed the line. Detroit coach Babcock cut his post-game press conference short, saying among other things that the teams should still be out on the ice playing.
What’s Next: The Wings came into this game hoping that Ryan Getzlaf would start to tire, given his monster minutes in the prior two contests. He played over twenty-two minutes and asssisted on the winning goal. The Ducks survived their nemesis—penalty trouble—but how long they can continue to court disaster in this area remains to be seen.
Brian’s book Living the Hockey Life comes out in the fall.