Why Detroit Won: The Wings were out of synch early, but they found their legs halfway through the first period, with Johan Frantzen crashing the net and knocking Jonas Hiller backwards into the cage after putting the puck by him on the power play. When Anaheim tried to respond by bashing the Wings around, they pushed back. Jonathan Ericsson fought Corey Perry in front of the Detroit net near the end of the period. On the night, the Wings outhit their rivals 36-24. They also crushed Anaheim on faceoffs, winning 71%, and bested them in shots, 37-24. Detroit was not as dominating as the numbers sound, but they got scoring on the power play and at regular strength, including two from blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom.
Why Anaheim Lost: The Duck minimized the potential damage of a five-minute major on Mike Brown for a high and late hit on Juri Hudler, giving up one goal on just four shots. After playing on the perimeter early, they found ways to go to the Detroit net in the second period, scoring on the power play. Teemu Selanne got one goal on the way to recording five shots. Hiller played another strong game, including dealing with Tomas Holmstrom an inch in front of the crease most of the night. But a moment of inattention by their backcheckers allowed Lidstrom to grab his own rebound high in the slot and put the puck past Jonas Hiller to win the game, 3-2 with 49.1 seconds remaining.
Key Moment: The Ducks appeared content to take the game to overtime tied at two after neither team scored for most of the third period despite a big edge to Detroit in shots. They were caught flatfooted when Daniel Cleary tossed a puck to Lidstrom high in the slot. The Detroit Captain shot, stepped around a motionless Perry as he pursued his own rebound, and scored. It was the second time in the period the Ducks had been caught looking. Early on, Holmstrom had come out of the penalty box and split the defense for a breakaway. Hiller put a pad on the puck, but nobody was there to knock the Detroit player away as he sought the rebound.
What’s Next: Detroit started the game shooting high, a supposed weak spot for Hiller. Later, most of their shots were along the ice, and Hiller stopped them with his pads. Detroit must either use their screen more or go back to the high blocker side if they plan to solve Hiller. The Ducks have to temper their disappointment at losing with confidence that they played as well as or better than Detroit for significant stretches of this game. Coach Carlyle will have to find a replacement for Brown should he be suspended for his hit on Hudler.
Look for Brian’s new book, Living the Hockey Life, out this fall. Check out www.growinguphockey.com for more.