Monday, December 12, 2005

Wings 3, Pens 1

The Wings won their third in a row tonight, beating Pittsburgh 3-1 at the Joe and pulling ahead in their all-time series with the Pens by just one win (58W-57L-16T). Steve Yzerman sat out the game and will miss the next couple weeks or so with yet another groin injury, a tear this time, but on a different side than before. I forgot to mention it in the preview but the Freep's notes section today said Babcock had hinted a player would be out with a groin injury but he wouldn't say who it was. Now we know. With Yzerman out, Kris Draper wore the third "A" and Jiri Hudler got substantial increase in ice-time over the last game (9:44 over 2:58 against the Caps). Yzerman will not go on the Southeastern Division road trip with the team. The Wings' power play was potent as usual, going 3-for-8 with the man-advantage and getting good pressure on at least a couple opportunities on which they didn't score. On the other side of the ice, the Wings were perfect, killing off 5 of 5 penalties and even scoring shorthanded. Henrik Zetterberg had another dominating game, scoring two goals and coming close a number of other times. His first goal came after a point shot by Lidstrom and a flurry in front of the net involving Holmstrom. He knocked it in over Marc-Andre Fleury, who was down, and it barely crossed the line before being knocked out by a Pens player. The light went and the players began their celebration but the play was not whistled down until the linesman streaked in indicating it had in fact crossed the line. Then the goal horn sounded and the Wings got credit. Hank's second goal was much less in doubt. While on the power play, Sergei Gonchar took a hit from Kirk Maltby and coughed up the puck at his own blueline. Zetterberg picked it up and broke in on Fleury all alone, deked the young goalie out of his pants and roofed a backhander for one of the more exciting goals of the season. Chris Osgood was solid in his third start in a row, though he didn't face much work. He made some excellent saves when called upon, however, including a breakaway chance or two. He was good during the Pens' two successive 5-on-3 opportunities in the second and made a great glove save on Gonchar with under five remaining in the third. The Pens did finally score with 29 seconds left in the game but it looked to me like the puck was kicked in. Mark Recchi, the shooter, got credit. Nicklas Lidstrom scored the Wings' other goal and finished with a two-point night (1G, 1A). His goal came on the power play in the third and was the result of a nice cross-ice pass from Pavel Datsyuk. Lidstrom, who had crept up from the point, hesitated just a bit and then ripped the puck past Fleury to make it 3-0. No chance to stop that one. Sidney Crosby wasn't all that noticeable, though he did get an assist on the Recchi goal. He certainly didn't seem as dangerous as Ovechkin did but that's probably due to Kris Draper, who was on him like a blanket all night. Both he and Draper wore mics for the OLN crew, though they didn't have anything too interesting to say, as far as I heard. The OLN special before the game was worth watching. They started out with a Darren McCarty highlight reel and then showed his arrival back in Detroit. The crew went with him to his house, where he surprised his kids and re-entered domestic life for a while. They followed him to practice the next day and interviewed people in the Wings organization who said what you'd expect them to say ("Mac's like a brother to us, it's like we're having a friend visit," etc.). They finished with footage from the December 1st Wings/Flames game as well as a short bit coming from afterwards. Now, the Wings head to Atlanta, where they will face another young star, but one who has been in the league for a couple years, Ilya Kovalchuk and his Thrashers, tomorrow night at 7:00 ET.


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