Thursday, December 18, 2003

Wings 3, Sharks 2 (OT)

The Wings got away with one last night, getting a win in overtime over the Sharks in a game where they were pretty much shut down all night. The Sharks kept the Wings relatively under control the whole game and were very good at keeping it boring. Things got more exciting near the end when the Wings decided a win wouldn't come easily and they put forth enough effort to overcome the stifling San Jose defense. Curtis Joseph played for the fifth straight game and looked very good. He had no chance on either of the Sharks' goals and both were preceded by some great saves by him. The first was no one's fault since it was on a 5-on-3 which the Wings' skaters defended well. The second was a result of a minor defensive miscue where the two Wings defensemen collided, leaving Scott Thornton wide open for a slam dunk goal. Joseph has been very steady since coming back to the team and it just goes to show what he can do when well worked. I think Dominik Hasek would have played just as well, however, had he not been hampered by this groin injury. The fact is, both of them need to play consistently to play well. They cannot both get that here so the Wings have got to find a way to get Joseph to another team. He deserves it and the Wings owe it to him. Henrik Zetterberg made his return last night rather than on Friday as expected and was amazing. He scored the Wings' first goal and then went on to assist on their next two, including a brilliant assist on the game winner in overtime. He looked strong on his skates and did not seem to have missed a beat, even though he missed 21 games with a broken leg. It was great to see him out there again and even though the Wings' offense has been good without him, he reminded us all how much we missed him. He played 27 shifts over 19 minutes, 21 seconds, getting time in even-strength, power-play and penalty-killing situations and looked good doing it. The best news is he played the whole game and did not have to leave because of his leg bothering him. That should mean he's fully healed and that the Wings will have his services for the rest of the season, barring other injuries. Dave Lewis did not waste any time putting him back on a line with Datsyuk and Hull since they were together on the first power play unit, though not at even-strength for the most part. Pavel Datsyuk was relatively quiet all night until he scored the game tying goal with 19 seconds left. The Sharks defense was obviously keying on him and did not give him much room to do anything all night. That's something Pavel's going to have to deal with from now on but I think he's good enough that it shouldn't be a problem. He actually played a fairly physical game last night, knocking at least one player down and taking a beating from the Sharks. He is now tied for the NHL scoring lead with Robert Lang with 40 points. Brendan Shanahan scored the Wings' game winner off a pass from Zetterberg. He is having a quietly strong season lately after starting out slowly. He drew the penalty that lead to the Wings' game tying goal near the end of the third period and had a good game overall. Niklas Kronwell continues to impress me with his physical play and decent offensive ability. He earned his second NHL point on Henrik Zetterberg's goal and played a strong game. He does not look like a rookie at all. He's supposedly "Nick the Second" and, though that may be a bit of a stretch, he's looking like he may be a top NHL defenseman in a few years. The Wings earned their third win in a row, improving to 9-1-1 in their last 12 games and 14-3-2-1 in their past 20. They still have nine regulars out because of various injuries yet the breakout play of players such as Datsyuk, Hull, Schneider and Woolley has kept them on a winning pace. They are now tied for first place overall and lead the St. Louis Blues by three points (44 to 41). The Blues still have six games in hand on Detroit, however, and will not have played the same number of games as the Wings until some time in March. The Wings are now 20-10-3-1. Next up: vs. Chicago, tomorrow, 7:30 EST Freep | News | ESPN | Box Score Lines- Dandenault-Williams-Maltby Draper-Datsyuk-Hull Zetterberg-Mowers-Shanahan Devereaux-Datsyuk-Hull Dandenault-Draper-Maltby Devereaux-Hudler-Bootland Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Fischer-Schneider Lidstrom-Woolley Kronwall-Rivers Fischer-Rivers Kronwall-Lidstrom Schneider-Woolley 4 on 4- Shanahan-Zetteberg Datsyuk-Hull Fischer-Schneider Lidstrom-Woolley Kronwall-Rivers PP- Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Mowers-Draper Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Draper Shanahan-Datsyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Woolley Kronwall-Schneider Lidstrom-Schneider PK- Draper-Maltby Shanahan-Zetterberg Datsyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Rivers Schneider-Dandenault 5 on 3PK- Maltby-Draper Lidstrom 6 on 5 Cujo Pulled- Zetterberg-Shanahan-Dastyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider 6 on 4 PP- Zetterberg-Shanahan-Dastyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider OT- Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Zetterberg Draper-Maltby Williams-Dandenault Lidstrom-Woolley Fischer-Schneider Kronwall-Lidstrom Net- Curtis Joseph


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