Thursday, January 22, 2004

Wings 2, Ducks 2

In the first of back-to-back games taking the Wings from Anaheim to LA, the Wings, after holding a 2-0 lead for nearly two periods, fell asleep in the third period and allowed to Ducks to tie the game up at two apiece. Overtime was pretty open, with chances either way, but the game concluded with a 2-2 tie. The decision was pretty disappointing, considering Sergei Fedorov did not play due to the flu, a gametime decision after Fedorov took the pregame skate, and Manny Legace goofed on the first goal by getting caught out of the net. It was a pretty silly game for the Wings to let fall out of their hands. In the first period, the Wings opened the game strong. Manny Legace made a few key glove saves, and the Wings got a lot of shots on Martin Gerber. On the powerplay, Pavel Datsyuk scored at 12:22 on a great wrist shot from between the circles, assisted by Brett Hull and Steve Thomas, who returned tonight after the month layoff with his knee injury. Initially, the red light did not go on and play continued for a good minute before a stoppage in play allowed the officials to review the play. The shot just snuck in under the crossbar, and bounced out of the net quickly, giving the illusion that it hit the crossbar. I wonder if the refs thought they heard a "ting," because I certainly didn't (all net). 1-0 Wings. Shots in the period were 11-10 in the Wings' favor. In the second period, the Wings continued to play strong. Mathieu Schneider scored at 10:40 on a blast from the point, assisted by Jiri Fischer. The goal came just as the Wings powerplay expired, so it was essentially a powerplay goal. If second assists were given out for effort, Tomas Holmstrom would've definitely gotten it on the goal. After drawing the initial penalty to give the Wings the man-advantage, Tomas was belted by a couple hits near the blue line. He got up, and crashed towards the net just as Fischer was feeding Schneider. Sure enough, Homer's butt was all Gerber saw on the play. A great effort by Holmstrom. 2-0 Wings. But with 13 seconds left in the period, the Wings fell asleep a bit. Thomas was tired after a long shift and failed to clear the puck to kill the clock, so the Ducks took it into our zone and dumped it in. Manny, being a little too aggressive, went to the back of the net to pursue the puck, and the Wings players left him out to dry by not covering Samuel Pahlsson, who stole the puck from Manny and got it to Petr Sykora to make it 2-1 Wings. Shots in the period were 9-6 in favor of the Ducks. In the third period, it was a very choppy style of play. The first ten minutes involved about 2 decent shots, the rest being garbage dumps or failed passes. It was literally poke-your-eyes-out boredom. I found myself unconsciously switching the channel to the end of Jay Leno, with Clay Aiken. Pretty pathetic. The Wings really lost their stride during the third, and the Ducks used it to their advantage by sticking in the game and continuing to get good scoring chances. With Gerber pulled and a minute left, the Ducks got a tying goal from Vaclav Prospal, making it 2-2 and sending it to Overtime. Shots in the period were 9-5 in favor of the Ducks. In Overtime, the Wings seemed to have been shocked into playing better. They came out with a couple good chances on Gerber, and Yzerman made a good defensive play to stop a breaking Duck at center ice, a clear breakaway if he hadn't got his stick on the puck. Shots in overtime were 2-2, and, for the game, 30-24 in the Ducks favor. This shot differential reflects a bad end of the second period and entire third period. To put Hull's goal drought (now 20 games--since Dec. 8) into perspective, Thomas assisted Brett's second to last goal (15th of his season 16 goals) versus Toronto on December 6. That's a long time ago. So I'm sure Brett was happy with Thomas returning tonight. It would've been the first time for the Wings to play Sergei Fedorov in his new home, but he bugged out (literally) with the flu. Or maybe he just got butterflies about the whole situation, as he did participate in the pregame skate and was not ill until gametime. It was definitely a disappointing game. The Wings now have 1 win in their past 6 games. And they have struggled away, so this trip is going to either be complete torture to Wings fans' sleep and our standing in the league, or have the Wings rise to the occasion and put some wins in the win column. They'll have the chance tomorrow night when they face the LA Kings and former Wings enforcer Sean Avery, a 10:30 PM EST start.


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