Friday, April 30, 2004

Game 4: Wings 4, Flames 2

In a must-win game in the Saddledome, the Wings responded with a 4-2 win over the Flames. The Wings evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece, and got back home-ice advantage. The series is now a best-of-three mini-series, and the Wings have Games 5 and 7 in the Joe. After a team meeting Wednesday, role players in Devereaux, Maltby, and Dandenault responded with goals, and Cujo had another strong outing. First Period The Wings opened the period with a line of Kris Draper, Ray Whitney, and Kirk Maltby. With Cujo mock-chants already going, the Wings opened the scoring, just 26 seconds in, on a goal from Maltby, assisted by Kris Draper and Ray Whitney. On the play, the Wings won a faceoff in the Calgary zone, Draper cycled the puck around and centered it to Maltby, who roofed it right under the crossbar and over Miikka Kiprusoff's catching glove. It was the first 1st period goal of the series, and gave the Wings an important 1-0 lead. At 2:30, Jiri Fischer made a good defensive play, as he pushed Chuck Kobasew outside on a 1-on-1 break. The Wings had a good chance on Kiprusoff, as Holmstrom got off a blast between the circles at 3:45. And at 4:41, the Wings nearly scored. On the play, Zetterberg battled near the net, McCarty gained control and centered to Datsyuk, who hit the left post. The Wings were clearly outhustling the Flames at this point, Coach Lewis using various line combinations to keep the entire bench on their toes. At the halfway point of the first, shots were 8-2 in favor of the Wings. Lewis sent out an odd line combination of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and McCarty, "Two Kids and a Grinder" perhaps. They generated some chances, with Pavel centering the puck to Darren, who sent it just over the net. At 13:29, Zetterberg hauled down Marcus Nilson, and the Flames got the first power play chance of Game 4. Calgary had a sustained pressure, but the Wings were able to escape unscathed. But this power play chance gave the Flames a boost, and momentum shifted in their favor. The Wings began to ice the puck as Calgary pressed on, and Cujo was strong at 16:40, as the Flames created pressure near the doorstep. With 30 seconds left in the period, Cujo had two great saves: one on Yelle point blank, and another on Montador from a point shot. It was a great period from Maltby and Draper, who generated offense and hustled through every shift. The Wings outshot Calgary 11-9, and looked sharp in both zones. The Wings led the Flames in scoring chances 5-1, and in faceoffs, 10-9. Second Period The Wings opened the second on their heels, continuing to ice the puck. Luckily Boyd Devereaux scored at 3:00, assisted by Ray Whitney and Kris Draper. On the play, Boyd hustled to keep the puck in the Calgary zone, drove to the net, and beat Kiprusoff five-hole on a blast from the right circle. It was truly a hustle-man's goal. 2-0 Wings. Unfortunately, the goal didn�t get the Wings going much, and the lead was to soon fizzle out. After back-to-back faceoff wins, the Flames capitalized on a goal from Martin Gelinas at 5:45, assisted by Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy. On the play, Gelinas snuck in on the left side, and pounced on the puck after it squirted out of a scrum near Cujo. Hatcher and Woolley were tied up and unable to get to Gelinas. 2-1 Wings. 18 seconds later, at 6:03, Ville Nieminen scored, assisted by Shean Donovan and Marcus Nilson. On the play, Donovan carried it in, and Nieminen found himself in all alone on Cujo. He deked, moving to his backhand, and undressed Cujo for the goal. 2-2 tie. Since Calgary is Cow-Town, a Flames fan threw a cow tongue onto the ice in celebration. Reflecting Calgary's early jump in the second, shots were 17-14 Flames at 6:23. Cujo mock-chants echoed in the Saddledome, and the home crowd roared back into it, blasting stadium horns and waving team pendants and flags. The Wings remained on their heels. The floodgates almost opened, but Cujo weathered the storm. A Jiri Fischer goof at the Wings' blue line led to a Nieminen/Donovan 2-on-1. Cujo made the save of the game as Nieminen passed across to Donovan at the backdoor. Cujo stacked his pads and robbed the Flames. It was a pivotal save, as it kept Calgary from gaining any more momentum. At 11:45, the refs made a blunder when they didn't blow the whistle with the Wings' net off its moorings. Cujo waved his glove above his head trying to signal the boneheads in zebra-stripes, and finally had to put the net back on himself, as play continued. At 13:20, Nicklas Lidstrom was called for hooking Jarome Iginla, who split the Wings' defense and was clearing past Lidstrom toward Cujo. The Wings had a good penalty kill, clearing the puck for most of the two minutes. With 1:15 left, Cujo dangerously cleared the puck in front of his net with Calgary racing towards him, and Kris Draper nearly pounced on the puck across the Calgary blue line. At 19:49, Donovan and Datysuk were both sent to the sin-bin for roughing and crosschecking, respectively. Shots in the period were 11-11. Third Period The third period essentially was an overtime situation for both clubs, realizing that the next goal would likely be the game-winner. Opening the period on the 4-on-4, the Wings nearly scored. Lidstrom was left wide open on the right side, but when the puck was passed to him, he failed to control it with a chance to break in on Kiprusoff. Brendan Shanahan also nearly scored when he took a pass at the Calgary blue line, but the refs made a bad offside call, as Brendan's skate was on the blue line as he took the pass. The Yzerman/Devereaux/Whitney line continued to play well, and the Wings generated some good pressure. Hull got his first shot of the game between the circles off a faceoff win. Hull had another chance to score when he was left wide open on the left side, but a pass from Zetterberg hopped over his stick. Finally, the Wings capitalized on their sustained pressure. At 10:02, Mathieu Dandenault scored, assisted by Tomas Holmstrom and Robert Lang. On the play, Lang passed to Homer in front, the puck slipped between Kiprusoff's pads, and Dandenault pushed it across the goal line. 3-2 Wings. At 11:01, Regehr and Shanahan were each called for roughing, as they pushed and shoved in the Calgary zone. On the 4-on-4, Jarome Iginla hit the outside of the post from between the circles. The Wings woke up after seeing that close call, and started to take short shifts and emphasize defense. It worked, and, with 1:10 left, Calgary pulled Kiprusoff for the extra skater. With the puck dumped out of Detroit's zone, Zetterberg stole the puck from Regehr with a hook-check on the right side, and shot the puck into the empty net. The insurance goal came at 19:36, assisted by Brendan Shanahan and Nicklas Lidstrom. 4-2 Wings. With 4 seconds left in the game, vile Ville Nieminen took a blatant run at Cujo, elbowing him in the head and shoving him into the Detroit net. He was given 5 minutes for charging and a 10 minute game misconduct, and fights ensued as the Wings sought some justice. Unfortunately, the refs protected gutless Nieminen as he escaped punishment, temporarily at least. It was a malicious and blatant attempt to injure Cujo with the game over, and Nieminen should be suspended for Game 5. I don't know if this was an attempt by Sutter to change the scope of the series, but something needs to happen to send the Flames a message. The league needs to take action and the Wings need to exact their own vigilante justice if Colin Campbell decides not to. Shots in the third were 7-7, to make for a game total 29-27, in favor of the Wings. Game Analysis Overall, I thought the Wings came out strong and played desperation hockey, in the face of a possible 3-1 series deficit. In an overtime-like situation, they got a goal from Dandenault in the third, and held the 3-2 lead. Role players responded when big names of Shanahan, Datsyuk, and Hull didn't. The Wings pressured the Flames' young defense, and got some offense going. And boy was it nice to see Devereaux, a guy who hustles every shift he plays, notch a goal in a critical game. Also, Hatcher had a good game and used his physical presence to play sound defense, for once. Shanahan also played hard and showed some grit. It's definitely disappointing when the only power play in two games comes with 4 second left in the game, and the product of your goaltender getting bulldozed. The Flames continue to hold sticks and interfere, and the refs continue to let it go when similar play from the Wings results in penalties. It's getting to be a joke at this point. Quote of the Game:
"Is it possible, in an NHL playoff game, that the other team can be on perfect behavior for 5 periods of hockey?"
--Mickey Redmond, questioning how the Wings can be without a single power play in Game 3 and through two periods of play in Game 4. Notables: Dave Lewis is 97-47-21 as head coach of the Wings, and 6-8 in the playoffs....Darryl Sutter is 61-53-15 as head coach of the Flames, and 35-44 in the playoffs....Datsyuk has no goals in 10 games....Shanahan and Hull have 4 goals between them in 10 games....Wings lead series shots 119-88....The Wings have lost 3 of their last 5 road games....Calgary is 1/12 on the power play this series while the Wings are 3/14 (all in Game 2)....Nicklas Lidstrom turned 34 on Wednesday....Nieminen uses a wood stick, the only guy on either team to do so....Maltby's goal was his 13th career playoff goal....In 2002 and 1998, the Wings won Game 4 on the road with a 2-1 deficit, and went on to win the Cup both years....After a Jamie Rivers shot loosened a few molars in practice, Cujo wears a mouthguard, and Hull is the co-owner of the company that makes Cujo's mouthguard....Shanny has decided to shave this playoff run, as he is one of the few Wings without a playoff beard....Dandenault's goal was his 3rd career playoff goal in his 62nd playoff game....Hull has 190 points in 200 playoff games.....Draper had a great night, voted one of the three stars, two assists, 15/25 on faceoffs, and winning my hustle-award....Chris Chelios missed his second straight game, out with a sore right arm or shoulder....The Flames are 6-2 when they've led a series 2-1....Since 1990, the Wings are 3-2 when trailing a series 2-1....The Wings have been good at faceoffs so far in the playoffs, but tonight both clubs won 38 each. boxscore (Editor: Here are the lines, courtesy GWB) Maltby-Draper-Whitney Holmstrom-Lang-Yzerman Zetterberg-Datsyuk-McCarty Shanahan-Lang-Hull Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Hull Maltby-Draper-Devereaux Whitney-Draper-Devereaux Maltby-Draper-McCarty Shanahan-Lang-Holmstrom Shanahan-Yzerman-Devereaux Shanahan-Zetterberg-McCarty Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Woolley Fischer-Dandenault Hatcher-Dandenault 4 on 4- Draper-Lang Zetterberg-Lang Maltby-Draper Yzerman-Whitney Lidstrom-Schneider Hatcher-Woolley PK- Maltby-Draper Shanahan-Draper Maltby-Yzerman Shanahan-Yzerman Lidstrom-Hatcher Fischer-Schneider Fischer-Hatcher Hatcher-Schneider Net- Curtis Joseph


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