Friday, March 26, 2004

Wings 3, Avs 1

The Wings were outplayed for the third straight game this season against the Avalanche, but managed to win 3-1. The Wings scored early and hung on as the Avalanche dominated the Wings on offense. Manny Legace got the start, and kept the Wings in it when they were outskated and outhustled. Even though the Wings got the win and lead the season series 2-1, I am disappointed to see the Wings on their heels against our Western Conference foe in Denver. The Wings can't expect to be outshot by the Avs and play in a 60-minute penalty kill mode and win many games against the Avalanche. It's hard for me to say that the Wings have been the better team in the three season meetings, just that the Wings have managed to hold on and win with an Avalanche onslaught of offense. In the first period, the Avs' stifling defense limited the Wings to 5 shots to the Avs' 12. But Legace was able to make the critical saves and keep the score tight. Tomas Holmstrom opened the scoring on the power play at 9:52, assisted by Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. On the play, Holmstrom carried the puck out of the corner, went to the right circle, and beat Aebischer farside corner. It was a weird goal, since Aebischer was surprised that Homer let off a shot from where he did, and no Wings were even close to the crease area to cause traffic, so it was a clean goal. 1-0 Wings. Midway through the period, Darren McCarty and Matthew Barnaby got into a fight. It was a brief bout, since Barnaby got sliced over his right eye on a jab from McCarty. Darren stopped throwing punches after he saw Barnaby's entire face covered in blood, literally. Avs forward Jim Cummins had two penalties on back-to-back shifts: at 5:56 for interference and 9:19 for high-sticking. The second penalty gave the Wings the power play chance which they capitalized on. The Wings had one power play goal in their past five games previous to tonight. In the second period, there was no scoring. At times, it seemed like the Avs were on a power play when both teams were at even strength. The Wings didn't get as many quality scoring chances as the Avs, and the 'Lanche controlled the pace. It was a strange moment when Mathieu Schneider's stick became stuck in between the glass on the nearside boards. ESPN showed a fan trying to work it loose between the panes, but I think it took arena custodians to get it out. The Wings' best chance came on a Hull shot that was deflected and hit the post. At the end of the period, Nick Lidstrom mugged Peter Forseberg, but the play went uncalled, likely because it was the three-time Norris Trophy winner. Shots were 11-8 Avs. In the third period, the Avs came out of the blocks with energy, and outskated the Wings. Luckily, Manny Legace was up for the game tonight. He made an incredible save on Avs center Riku Hahl point blank, definitely the save of the game. On the play, the puck was passed to Hahl in front, and Manny did the splits on the save. The ESPN commentator billed him "Manny 'The Difference' Legace." And there was nothing truer than that in tonight's game. The Wings held on as the Avs pressed, and Pavel Datsyuk got an important insurance goal at 17:28, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg and Darren McCarty. On the play, Zetterberg shot on Aebischer, who thought he had the puck between his pads and the play was stopped. Unfortunately for him, both his thoughts were wrong. The puck was lying near the left post, and Pavel Datsyuk picked it up and stuffed it for his 28th of the season. 2-0 Wings. We got another fight at 18:39, between Jim Cummins, still frustrated from his costly first period penalties, and Brendan Shanahan, not cracking the boxscores with offense so might as well go at it. Initially, Cummins pushed Shanny and #14 tried to avoid the fight. But Cummins persisted so much that Shanny answered the call and dropped the gloves. It was a longer fight than the McCarty/Barnaby bout, and Shanny bloodied Cummins enough that there was a bit of red decoration above the Winged-Wheel. The Avs pulled Aebischer at a bad time, and Henrik Zetterberg scored on the empty net before the Avs' goaltender even made it to the bench. Maltby got the assist on the goal, scored at 18:28. 3-0 Wings. With the game essentially over, the Avs still played hard and finally scored at 19:28 from Steve Konowalchuk on a broken play, assisted by Paul Kariya and Darby Hendrickson. The goal ruined Manny's shutout bid, definitely a disappointment considering he's coming off some bad starts in San Jose and Anaheim. 3-1 Wings. Shots in the period were 12-8 Avs. Throughout the game, Peter Forseberg was stifled by the Wings. By the end of the game, he nearly had a fit when Schneider mugged him in the third. Forseberg has spoken out about how the league needs to make sure that skilled players aren't interfered with by the opposition to the extent that their skills are watered down. I agree to some extent, but Peter is no Martin Havlat. He's a big guy, and should be able to hold his own out there. With television ratings for NHL hockey at the arena football level or worse, ESPN feels like they have to play up the Wings / Avs rivalry to the fullest. They mentioned it on every single check, scrum, and battle. And the referees let the play go on a few occasions like they wanted something to brew up. I'm not saying the rivalry doesn't exist anymore, but it's not the same as it was back when. ESPN loves the rivalry, billing it as "Thursday Night Hockey...The Red Wings and Avalanche renew their rivalry on ESPN's Thursday Night Hockey." They even replayed the Lemieux hit on Draper during third, maybe trying to rub salt into an old wound. I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone needs to be reminded about what happened on May 29, 1996 at McNichols Arena. Notables: Avalanche defenseman Karlis Skrastins, 29, has 346 consecutive games played.....Tampa Bay is the first team to notch 100 points: with their win tonight over New Jersey they have 101 points....Jeremy Roenick returned to the ice after a six-week absence, as he recovered from a shattered jaw and concussion....Forseberg also returned Tuesday night after missing 17-games with a groin injury....Teemu Selanne has 0 points in 18 games, the longest drought of his career....the Wings lead the league with 15 short handed goals....Nick Lidstrom has had one roughing call in 1000+ games played....The Wings have allowed 14 goals in their last 3 games....This is the 5th consecutive 100 point season for the Wings, who are currently tied for league lead with the Lightning at 101 points....The Avs owned face offs tonight, winning 34 to the Wings' 21. Total Shots 35-23 Avs. (Editor: Here are the lines from the game, courtesy GWB) Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Yzerman-Whitney Maltby-Mowers-McCarty Thomas-Williams-Holmstrom Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Chelios Fischer-Rivers Fischer-Chelios PP- Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Shanahan-Yzerman-Holmstrom Lidstrom-Schneider PK- Shanahan-Yzerman Zetterberg-McCarty Whitney-Mowers Zetterberg Maltby Lidstrom-Chelios Fischer-Rivers Net- Manny Legace


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