Friday, January 23, 2004

Wings 5, Kings 4

After a bad performance the night before, versus the Ducks, the Wings had a solid effort tonight versus the Kings in a 5-4 win. They did the little things right, and held on at the end, as the Kings surged and eerily came close to completing a 2 goal comeback that we've seen before from them, in the first round of the 2001 playoffs. In the first period, Steve Thomas scored at 6:01, assisted by Jason Woolley and Jamie Rivers. 1-0 Wings. Thomas has really got hot again after his layoff with the knee injury. He's going to be a great guy to have in the playoffs. But the Kings stormed back, with goals from Trent Klatt and Alexander Frolov to make it 2-1 Kings going into the second period. This is when the Wings fell asleep a bit. Shots in the period were 8-5 in LA's favor. In the second period, Brett Hull ended the longest scoring drought of his career with his first goal in 21 games (since Dec. 8 versus the Kings) with a powerplay goal, tipping a point shot from Nicklas Lidstrom, Ray Whitney getting the second assist. 2-2 tie. A Mathieu Schneider wrist shot from the right circle, with Cechmanek being screened by Derek Armstrong, triggered the red light at 5:18, assisted by Mathieu Dandenault and Tomas Holmstrom. 3-2 Wings. Shots in the period were 17-10 in Detroit's favor. In the third period, Jamie Rivers scored by stealing a sloppy Norstrom pass, and blasting a shot to get his first goal of the season and as a Red Wing. Rivers certainly made the most of his game time, also assisting on Thomas' goal. 4-2 Wings. Robitaille notched his 10th goal of the season on a powerplay goal to pull the Kings within one of the Wings, on the powerplay just after Chelios was called for boarding by a ref 100 feet away. It definitely wasn't boarding! 4-3 Wings. Schneider scored his second goal of the night on a two-on-one with Zetterberg, a great shot to the far side of the net. For a guy who wasn't chosen to be on the All Star team, Schneider really showed the league the travesty of his absence from All Star Weekend. It proved to be the game winner, his first as a Wing -- appropriately against his former club. 5-3 Wings. But the Kings wouldn't go down. They pulled Roman Cechmanek with a minute and a half left, and Joseph went after a goal on a long dump towards the empty net, but then the Kings scored with a 6-on-5 advantage on a goal from Alexander Frolov to make it 5-4. With the net still empty, the Kings got very close to tying it up in first round playoff fashion, but two huge Cujo saves sealed the deal. Shots in the period were 11-7 in LA's favor. Final shots: 29 apiece. During the pre-game skate, Niklas Kronwall's skate got caught in a divot on the ice as he was practicing skating backwards and doing defenseman pivot turns. He stumbled to the ice, and the Wings gathered around him as he lay on the ice in severe pain. He was carried off the ice, and X-rays showed Kronwall has a broken right leg. Jamie Rivers was just about to get some McDonalds in the press box when he saw his teammates gathered around Kronwall. He went down to the locker room to check it out, and his uniform and equipment were waiting for him--the health scratch was asked to play. Sean Avery and Luc Robitaille had a fun night playing against their former team. Avery got in a few scrums, and was angry after Schneider crushed him into the boards. And Luc got a goal, a rare occurence I appreciated seeing. Back in late August, I saw Mars its closest to Earth in 60,000 years. And now I see Luc scoring a goal. I'll certainly be telling my kids and grandkids the story of Luc's goal. And I'm done badgering the ex-Wing :). I always thought he would end up like a Wendel Clark, good on paper on another team, but never really fitting in with the Wings. Talking about ferocious hits, Yzerman was belted into the boards so hard that the glass cracked. Chelios came to the Captain's aid and got after the scoundrel who made the hit. In more disappointing pregame news other than Kronwall's freak accident, the NHL All Star team rosters were announced at approximately 7:30 EST. As expected Pavel Datsyuk will make the trip to St. Paul, Minnesota as a reserve forward. Nicklas Lidstrom is starting on defense. But I was surprised to see a few names omitted. Hedjuk has had a great season for the Avs and deserved a spot. Schneider and Draper were stiffed. Schneider should've been a lock the way he has played this season. He's definitely a Norris contender and probable finalist. Draper has had a career season with 19 goals and he's going to be strongly considered for the Selke. Yzerman was omitted, while the East has Messier, a guy who hasn't played much better than Stevie Y. Shanahan and Hull were also left off the roster, which I expected. Hopefully, Schneider and/or Draper can crack the roster if other guys get injuries or decline their roster spot. Western Conference All Star Roster Eastern Conference All Star Roster

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