Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Wings 5, Wild 3

The Wings played another relatively solid game tonight in following up their win on Saturday over the Avs, beating Minnesota 5-3 at the Joe. They couldn't seem to get a lead and sit on it though as the Wild would not just go away. That team obviously doesn't know when it's time to give up! Anyway, Manny Legace made another start (not that it wasn't expected) and look sharp again. First Period The game didn't start out all that exciting, with an icing 16 seconds in and some other whistles throughout the first couple minutes. Darren McCarty put the Wings on the board at 4:26 when he took a pass from Maltby near the blue line and then got off a perfect shot from the top of the left circle that beat Manny Fernandez cleanly. Not a great goal for the Wild goalie to give up and I'm sure his coach wasn't too happy with it. It was Mac's first in nine games and his 6th of the year. Things opened up a little more after that and the Wings had some good pressure on the next shift. The Wild got some good chances off sloppy defensive play by the Wings in their own zone but Manny came up big and Minnesota just couldn't finish. Shanahan got called for tripping at 8:47 and the Wild got in on the offense on the ensuing power play at 10:03. The goal came from Andrei Zyuzin and was a result of poor defensive coverage on the part of the Wings who let the defenseman skate right up to in front of Legace for the one-timer. Not too impressive. The Wings got a power play a minute or two later but it was totally uneventful. They did have some fairly sustained pressure immediately following the man-advantage, though, which got them their second goal, this time from Jiri Fischer. He scored at 14:32 on a mirror of the Wild goal: he took the pass from Shanahan who was behind the net and one-timed it through Fernandez where it barely crossed the line. It's nice to see Fischer jumping in on the offense more. Soon after, Henrik Zetterberg stole the puck near the blue line and went in on goal with Whitney on the other side. Instead of shooting the puck, he passed it across to Whitney who was robbed by Fernandez. I wish Hank would have shot the puck there but he made a good play regardless. It was just a great save by the Wild goalie, that's all. The Wings had a couple good more chances in the last few minutes but didn't score. Shots were 12-9 Wings. Second Period Brendan Shanahan made it 3-1 37 seconds into the second when he took the pass from Ray Whitney and one-timed it through the top of Fernandez's glove from the near side boards. It was a standard Shanny goal, a laser beam to the open gap in the goalie's defenses. The goal gave the Wings some good jump and their effort was rewarded less than two minutes later. Boyd Devereaux scored his fifth of the season at 2:25 when he shot the rebound of a shot by Jason Williams over a prone Fernandez. Though I'm not his biggest fan, it was good to see Boyd rewarded for his hard work for once. He played a hard game and earned the building's first star honors for his efforts. The Wild got themselves back into the game at 5:57 when Alexandre Daigle scored from the point off a clean faceoff win, a shot which beat Manny five-hole. Legace wasn't too happy about the goal but Williams really should have won the draw or at least not let it be won so cleanly. It was kind of a bad goal for Manny to give up, though. After that, the two teams played a long stretch of continuous, up and down hockey where there were no whistles. Jiri Fischer and Pierre-Marc Bouchard in a race for the puck, who in turn got up and almost sent Jiri head first into the boards. Bouchard got a penalty and in the ensuing scrum, Jason Wiemer and Jamie Rivers went to the box as well. The Wings got nothing more than a hit post off a shot by Datsyuk on the following power play. They had one more power play in the period but got nothing real going in that one either. Except, that is, when Yzerman sent the puck trickling just wide of an open net after a shot from the point. The PP unit of Hull/Zetterberg/Datsyuk had a few good chances as well but there was no scoring. In the final minute, Ray Whitney had everyone out of their seats with his hustle-play, one-man puck-control clinic inside the Wild zone that got the puck to Yzerman, who couldn't get it past Fernandez. Seconds later, Whitney had us all out of our seats for a different reason when he went flying into Manny Legace, who went down with his knee bent at a bad angle. Honestly, my heart stopped when I saw Manny's leg underneath him because I was sure he had hurt it. Luckily though, he got up and skated around, seemingly fine. He finished the game and if he did in fact get hurt on the play, we'll hear all about it tomorrow. Whitney, by the way, is the same guy who created another big scare involving Manny when a shot by him in pre-game on Saturday hit Manny in the arm and temporarily paralyzed it. Stay the heck away from #34, Ray! Shots were 12-7 Wings. Third Period The third period started with a couple long bomb passes to Pavel Datsyuk who either was too far up ice for it to be legal or just couldn't handle the puck. It sure would have been exciting.... He made up for it later, though. The Wings were outshooting the Wild 9-0 at the halfway mark of the period but Minnesota scored on their second shot at 11:28 off the stick of Alexandre Daigle. He got the initial shot and then sent his own rebound almost along the goalline and inside the far post to make it 4-3. Like I said, those pesky Wild do not know when to give up. A little more than two minutes later, Brett Hull sent the puck out from behind the net to Pavel Datsyuk, who danced around 3+ defenders with the puck on a string and sent a backhander through Fernandez for his 30th goal of the season. The goal, scored at 13:35, was Pavel's fifth in five games and one of the more amazing goals of the year, in my opinion. Darren McCarty had a great chance at about 15:00 off a pass from Henrik Zetterberg but was stoned again by Fernandez, who stopped Kirk Maltby on the rebound as well. Mac could have had a couple more goals tonight but just couldn't finish. The Wild came on some towards the end but the Wings were able to hold them off, with some help from Manny Legace. Third period shots were 14-8 Wings for a total of 38-24 Wings. End Game The Wild went into tonight's game one game under .500 meaning they are now two games under .500 (I know, amazing how that works, isn't it?) ... Hatcher's weak shot is really getting on my nerves. I don't know if it's a result of his shoulder injury but he needs to start getting some mustard on those things. Come on Derian ... Round 1 and 2 playoff tickets go on sale at 10:00 EST on Wednesday. If you're able to buy those things (unlike me), you probably already know the number ... Pavel has really impressed me with his backchecking skills this year. He is very good at stealing the puck and that makes it exciting to watch him on defense now too (sometimes, anyway) ... The Wings just need one point to lock up the Conference title ... They lead the Sharks 105-100 in points and Tampa Bay by 2 ... Tampa Bay is playing Ottawa tonight at home ... The Wings' home record improved to 30-6-4-0 and they have only one home game left ... They will face NHL leading goal scorer Rick Nash (40) and the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Wednesday night before heading to St. Louis to face the Blues on Thursday ... The Wings are now 27-5-6-1 when Pavel Datsyuk scores a point ... Quote of the Game
"The only homer we know is Holmstrom."
-- Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels to color commentator Mickey Redmond in their conversation about biased game-calling. Thomas Holmstrom's nickname is "Homer." Here is the box score, the faceoff breakdown and the shift chart. Lines- (courtesy GWB) Thomas-Datsyuk-Hull Maltby-Zetterberg-McCarty Devereaux-Williams-Holmstrom Shanahan-Yzerman-Whitney Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Rivers Hatcher-Chelios 4 on 4- Datsyuk-Hull Zetterberg-Maltby Shanahan-Whitney Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Fischer PP- Shanahan-Yzerman-Holmstrom Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Lidstrom-Schneider Whitney-Lidstrom Whitney-Chelios Whitney-Schneider PK- Zetterberg-Maltby Whitney-Yzerman Maltby-McCarty Shanahan-Yzerman Hatcher-Chelios Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Schenider Lidstrom-Chelios Net- Manny Legace


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