Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wings 7, Avs 3

Detroit finally halted their four-game skid and did it in fine fashion, beating their old enemies, the Colorado Avalanche, last night at the Joe. The game wasn't nearly as big a blowout as the score indicates, however; it wasn't until the late third period that the Wings put it away. It was their first game since Jiri Fischer's seizure and it was pretty clear they were playing knowing he was watching. Manny Legace made the start for the Wings and looked close to his old form. Peter Budaj, not David Aebischer, started for the Avs and played a solid game before coming apart at the end. A number of Wings had good games tonight but Mikael Samuelsson and Johan Franzen were great in particular, though at different ends of the ice. First Period Less than a minute into the game, the Andreas Lilja went to the box for high sticking, sending his team to the penalty kill. The Avs wasted very little time in scoring after a nice initial setup. Pierre Turgeon had the puck along the near boards just inside the circle and stick handled for what seemed like forever, with Nick Lidstrom watching him closely, before he sent the puck quickly toward the net where it was tipped in by Andrew Brunette. The goal came at 1:30 and after just 37 seconds of power play time, putting the Avs up 1-0. Down 1-0, the Wings made a determined effort to tie it up and it paid off at 2:18 with Samuelsson's first goal of the night. Jason Williams, standing on the far side of the net sent the puck through the crease to the Swede, who was standing at the near post and had an easy slam dunk goal. The play was made possible by the fact that four Avs were standing in a bumbling clump in front of the net or as Mickey Redmond put it, standing "around like a bunch of pylons," making it easy for Williams and Samuelsson to take advantage of having the puck down low. 1-1 tie. Kris Draper's line, with Johan Franzen and Kirk Maltby, had a great shift starting at about the 3:00 mark. They cycled the puck well and got some good chances around the net, though they didn't score. It wasn't just this line, either. The Wings looked good as a whole at this point and there was good flow to the game. That said, they did have some penalty trouble. Tomas Holmstrom went to the box at 8:26 for cross checking but the Wings were able to kill it off pretty easily. About the only good chance the Avs had was a nice shot from Rob Blake at the point, which was stopped by Manny with 41 seconds left in the man advantage. The pace slowed down after mid-period. The Wings had a power play chance of their own at 11:18 but didn't get much going. At 15:24, they got two penalties, one on an Avs rush and another on the ensuing chance around the net. The Avs got a 5-on-3 opportunity and did a good job generated sustained pressure throughout. They weren't connecting very well down low, however, and didn't get the puck past Manny, who was sharp when needed. It was a good kill for the Wings and earned a loud cheer from the fans at the Joe. The Wings finished out the period on a good note, with the last lines generating solid pressure in the offensive end. Shots were 13-8 Avs. Second Period The Wings had some nice chances in the first couple minutes of the period but didn't convert on any of them. Two lines had some good shifts, Yzerman's line with Cleary and Holmstrom, as well as Pavel's line with Shanahan and Williams. At 5:32, Samuelsson and Robert Lang got the puck on a 2-on-1. Samuelsson started out with it and made a nice pass from the near side to Lang, who hesitated just enough before shooting to get Budaj to commit and followed that up with an accurate shot that put the puck in the net, making it 2-1 Wings. It was Samuelsson's second point of the night and a very nice point indeed. The Wings had to kill off another penalty about a minute later. The game got somewhat boring around mid-period, with some chances but nothing too terribly exciting. The Avs tied the game up at 12:22 on sort of a fluke play. The puck was dumped in but at a point just out of reach of Manny, who was constrained by the new rules governing goalie movements. Nevertheless, he left the net, realizing only too late that he couldn't touch the puck. Alex Tanguay picked it up behind the net and centered it quickly out to Ian Laperriere, who one-timed it past Manny, who wasn't quite set, having just returned from his wandering. It happened very quickly and was just a result of a mental lapse by a man still adjusting to a rule that contradicts everything he's learned about being a goalie his entire career. No big deal, Manny. 2-2 tie. Not much more than 2 minutes later, Daniel Cleary scored his first goal as a Red Wing. Samuelsson started the play out at the blue line, stealing the puck from Karlis Skrastins, and taking a shot on net. The rebound went to the far wing, where Cleary was streaking on from the bench. He one-timed the puck as it came to him and made it 3-2 Wings. It was his 42nd NHL goal and gave Samuelsson his second assist on the night. At 16:50, the Wings went back on the power play. It took them a while to get going, though, but they finally got it together and scored at 16:30. Nick Lidstrom took a shot from the point and it was tipped in by Brendan Shanahan, who was standing in front of the net with Samuelsson. At first, there was some doubt about who had actually made the tip but replay clearly showed the puck going off Shanny's stick. So, Samuelsson was denied his fourth point. Until later. It was Shanahan's team-leading 13th goal. 4-2 Wings. It may look like the Wings had the game in hand at this point but the Avs would rebound and control play for much of the play in the third. Shots were 14-6 Wings. Third Period The Wings got a power play early on in the first but ended up giving the Avs more chances than they got themselves. At one point, the puck was laying in the crease with Manny way out of position and only Datsyuk's quick stick saved a goal. The Avs really started to come on and were creating some pressure. I made the remark to Brian that "No one plays back on their heels like the Wings," meaning when other teams are gunning for the win, the Wings can seem to be just barely hanging on and playing in desperation more than anything else. The Avs were very dangerous for most of the first half of the period and it really seemed like they might come back. Colorado got a power play at 7:03 and only took 11 seconds to score. Joe Sakic sent a nice pass across the net to John-Michael Liles, who knocked at it a couple times before getting it past Legace. 4-3 Wings. Now, it really seemed like the Avs would tie it up. Play evened out around mid-period, however, and the Wings soon began to take control again. At 15:44, Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams were sprung on a 2-on-1, with Pavel carrying the puck. He made a great pass to Williams, who one-timed it off the far wing into the net, putting the Wings up 5-3. It was Williams' 7th goal this season, one goal less than his personal best of 8. Less than a minute later, Samuelsson capped off his great night with a fourth point, scoring his second goal of the game and 11th of the season. Lang, along the far boards, sent it to Samuelsson in the slot and he ripped the shot past Budaj to make it 6-3 Wings. At 17:16, the Wings went on the penalty kill again. The Avs pulled their goalie midway through their power play and the Wings soon took advantage of it. Johan Franzen, who had been having a great night defensively, was rewarded with an easy empty net goal at 19:06. Shots were 8-7 Avs and 29-27 Wings for the game. Notes Jamie Rivers was in the lineup for Jiri Fischer and looked good ... 7 goals is the most the Wings have scored this season. It is also the most the Avs have allowed ... They said before the game that the Avs had been watching the Predators game on Monday before their game against Calgary and saw what happened to Fischer. Apparently, it affected them deeply and was a factor in their loss that night. Milan Hejduk, one of Jiri's teammates on the Czech national team, was hit especially hard ... It wasn't as emotionally charged a game as I thought it would be but the Wings played as well as anyone could expect them to, given the circumstances. Jiri Fischer's situation aside, it was obvious that the rivalry between the Avs and Wings has cooled an unbelievable amount. I hardly felt like I was watching an Avs/Wings game the entire time. It was strange since I used to know the Avs practically as well as I know the Wings but there are so many new players on the team that there were times when I didn't know who as out there for them. Mickey and Ken made a good point about the rivalry, noting that it has cooled but pointing out that if these two teams ever meet in the playoffs, things will be just like they were. I agree, though I think they aren't as likely to meet in the post-season as they used to be. Remember, Friday's game against the Ducks is at 4:00 ET and on the local Fox affiliate, not FSN. Also, Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.


At 11/24/2005 04:59:00 PM, Anonymous laura said...

I actually thought the Wings were dominant throughout, with much more pressure than the Avs, and the final score was not misleading. As Sakic said, "they kicked out butts." Good to see it!


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