Friday, December 16, 2005

Wings 2, Panthers 3 (OT)

The Wings' road trip isn't turning out so well. With last night's 3-2 overtime loss to Florida, the best they can hope for is a total of three points out of a possible six on this Southeast Division swing. In complete reversal of the high scoring Atlanta game on Tuesday, last night's game was tied at zero until 15:37 of the second period, when Gary Roberts scored for Florida. The goal followed a long stretch of domination by Detroit in which the same Florida line was on the ice for about three minutes. The Panthers finally got it out of their zone when Andreas Lilja broke his stick (again). Ken Daniels mentioned that the broken stick didn't lead directly to a great Florida chance like it did for the Thrashers on Tuesday in the third period. You were right, Ken, it didn't lead to a goal on the same play but it did soon after, when Roberts' line came off the bench. Defenseman Sean Hill sent the puck to Roberts who ended up wide open in the slot. He ripped the shot past Osgood and put the Panthers ahead 1-0. The Wings had been pretty dominant on the power play all night but Roberto Luongo was a wall and they couldn't get it past him despite a number of glorious chances. Until the third period, the only times the Wings beat Luongo was during their first power play when Mathieu Schneider's shot went off the post. Chris Osgood was very steady as well and didn't have much chance on the Roberts goal. He made some very good saves, including one on Olli Jokinen at 4:25 after the Wings screwed up at the blue line. Valterri Filppula, wearing #41, got his first NHL point at 6:45 when he assisted on Daniel Cleary's goal. Filppula, skating at the blueline on the right side, sent the puck diagonally across the zone into the corner - obviously meant as an indirect pass. The puck bounced nicely off the backboards and Cleary picked it up, shooting immediately, a low sharp-angle shot that beat Luongo, who wasn't quite set. Brett Lebda got an assist on the play, making it an all-rookie/newbie goal. That in and of itself shows the change that is taking place in this organization. Filppula spent most of the night playing with Cleary and Mark Mowers. He got a penalty in the first but I thought it was a bit of a weak call. Other than that, he didn't make any glaring mistakes and he showed some real hockey smarts with that assist on Cleary's goal. He didn't play a lot, however, with ice-time totaling 4:05 but he got one shot and an assists. According to the shift chart on, he only played two shifts per period but did not play at all in overtime. A sidenote, he is the first Finnish national to wear the Winged Wheel. (Tomas Sandstrom was born in Finland but is a Swede so he doesn't count). At 10:39 of the third period, Rostislav Olesz pulled a Bobby Orr and scored a classic but rarely seen truly coast-to-coast goal. Olesz started behind his own net and built up speed carrying it out of his zone through center. By the time he reached the Wings' zone, he had a lot of momentum and any collision would have been pretty spectacular. Andreas Lilja had a chance to hit him but missed and Olesz entered the zone pretty much un-molested. It's funny because, at the time, Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy were talking about Olesz, who was drafted #7 overall in the 2004 draft (etc.). Just as Daniels said something about the Panthers not projecting him to be a big goal scorer, he ripped a shot past Osgood from the top of the left circle. The irony was lost on Ken, I guess, since he still held to his line about Olesz being less of a shooter and more of a passer. Not on that play! That one hurt and was the fault of everyone on the ice, not just Osgood. 2-1 Panthers. After that, the Panthers shut down and worked to curtail the Wings' efforts at a comeback. Babcock shortened the bench and had some guys double-shifting but it wasn't until Juraj Kolnik closed his hand on the puck in his own zone at 17:39 that the Wings finally got a break. The ensuing power play was a little slow to get going but they finally got set up in the Panthers' zone and pulled Chris Osgood for the sixth man. At 18:58, the Wings tied it up. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg passed the puck back and forth once or twice before Hank got the opening he needed. He walked in on Luongo and, getting right in the goalie's face, put the puck around him inside the left post to make it 2-2. Brendan Shanahan did a good job of sealing off Mike Van Ryn away from Zetterberg but couldn't stop Chris Gratton from cross-checking the heck out of #40 after he scored. For some reason, the refs missed that one, despite Hank's practically ending up deeper in the net than the puck. With that, the teams headed to overtime, the sixth time they have done so in their last seven meetings. The Wings controlled much of the first minute or so but Mathieu Schneider was called for tripping at 1:23 and the balance shifted. From one angle, it looked like it was just a good hip check but from another, Schneider's knee was out just enough to be a penalty. Not a very good play. The Panthers soon capitalized, scoring at 1:36 to win the game. Olli Jokinen, playing at the point, sent a blast that beat Osgood cleanly. Gary Roberts was screening Ozzie nicely and it's likely he never even saw the puck. 3-2 final. And we Wings fans still haven't seen a shootout. It was the Panther's first win over Detroit since 96, on their 8th try. Next up, the Wings travel to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning, 7:30 ET Saturday the 17th. Update (7:44 PM ET): More on the shootout comment: According to's enormously useful stats page, the Wings are the only team not to have been involved in a shootout this season. They won't let you do a direct link but if you go to the site and find the drop down box labeled "Report view" under "Team Comparison Reports," you'll see an option called "Shootout Summary." Select that and click "Run Report." The report that comes up shows 29 teams. The Wings are 2-3 in OT this year and have not lasted more than 2 minutes in each of those losses. They made it to 4:09 of overtime on October 17th against the Sharks when Jiri Fischer scored the game winner but other than that, we haven't come any closer than three minutes and nine seconds of playing time from a shootout.


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