Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wings 4, Caps 3

It was a hard-fought and physical game but the Wings, making good use of their power play opportunities, pulled out the win, which for all intents and purposes was 4-2, not 4-3, but more on that later. Chris Osgood was absolutely great in his second start in as many games. The Caps tested him early and often and he had very little chance on the goals he did allow. He made some very good saves and kept the Wings in it for stretches of the game that they did not control play. Henrik Zetterberg, playing his natural position of center, had a stellar game, scoring two nice goals and getting very involved at both ends of the ice. He showed the most hustle by far of any Red Wing and whenever he was on the ice, he was where the action was. Great game, Hank. Steve Yzerman looked good out there as well. He and Dan Cleary seem to have good chemistry and they play well together with Tomas Holmstrom. He had some jump and though he only played 6:38, he had another solid game. The crowd at the Phonebooth had a very large and vocal Wings fan contingent. Detroit had to at times feel as though they were back at the Joe, with the "Let's Go Red Wings" chants and such giving the place a nice and friendly feel. After seeing the Caps play, it's hard to understand why they have the record they do. Though they had some penalty trouble, they kept it close with the Wings and gave Detroit one of the most physical games they've played all year. Alexander Ovechkin wasn't as noticeable as I thought he be but every once and a while he'd surprise me with his quick shot or rapid acceleration. That kid has got a quick release (ha, "kid" - he's my age!). I'd like to see him in the fastest skater competition before the All Star Game but that won't happen this year. He and a lot of other NHL players will be playing in something called the "Olympics" instead, or so I hear. During the broadcast, it was announced that Jiri Fischer and his doctors will hold a press conference on Monday, 12. Dec, at 4:00 PM ET on Fox Sports Detroit. I know what I'll be doing at 4:00 on the 12th. What about you? First Period Mike Babcock went with Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Jason Williams to start the game with Mathieu Schneider and Chris Chelios on defense. The Caps capitalized on Detroit sloppiness initially and got some nice chances early on. As previously stated, Osgood had to be sharp on a number of Washington shots. After the first couple minutes, the Wings got it more together and things evened out a bit. Samuelsson went to the box for interference at 4:34 and the Caps got their first power play. After a short-handed chance by Nicklas Lidstrom, Washington came right back and scored to put themselves ahead 1-0. Jamie Heward took a shot from the point and the rebound ended up on Ovechkin's stick, with Chris Osgood down and at his mercy. If you're a Red Wing or a Red Wings fan, that's a bad thing. Alex the Great promptly made use of the opportunity presented him and put the puck in the net, following the goal up with a very enthusiastic celebration. I thought "Oh, great." 1-0 Caps, at 5:23. A little over a minute later, Dan Cleary nearly scored from the side of the net but the puck ended up getting caught in Kolzig's equipment instead of going into the net so the score remained the same. Osgood was forced to make a good save at 7:22 but the puck went the other way and Draper's line generated some solid pressure for about a full shift in the Caps end. Nothing came of it though. The Caps made good use of Wings gaffes, making things a little tense in the Detroit end and keeping Osgood awake. Steve Yzerman's line had a nice shift about 11 minutes in but all they got as a Washington penalty. The ensuing power play wasn't too terribly exciting, except for two near-goals: Shanahan's shot after crossing the line clanged off the left post and Samuelsson's effort around the net after Lidstrom's slap shot a short time later were as close as the Wings came to scoring. At 15:39, Chelios went to the penalty box for tripping. I thought it was a bit of a phantom call, since the Caps player lost his footing just before Chelios touched him but the ref must have blinked or something. The Caps got a good set up going and Ovechkin got a couple good chances but they weren't able to score. With 7 seconds left on the man-advantage, Washington got a penalty and the teams went to four a side. On the power play that followed, Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring for the Wings, at 18:06, after taking a pass from Holmstrom. He skated to the slot and ripped a wrist shot past Kolzig in the top left corner, tying the score at one. Nice goal and great shot, Hank. Mathieu Schneider got a penalty at 18:59 (interference) but the Caps didn't do anything with it and the period ended without much of anything worth mentioning. Shots were 11-7 Caps. Second Period The Caps started the period on the power play and got set up, getting a couple shots off but they did not score. Shortly after the power play expired, Washington had a delayed penalty but when the play ended, there was a scrum in the corner involving Samuelsson and Brent Sutherby. Both he and Samuelsson went to the box for roughing but because of the earlier Caps penalty, the Wings ended up with a power play. The Wings got set up but it was cleared and the Caps ended up scoring a short-handed goal. Chris Clark went to the near corner, got the puck and centered it to Matt Pettinger, who tipped it in from 17 feet. Pavel Datsyuk was right there but couldn't do anything without getting a penalty (thank you, new rules). Osgood really had no chance thanks to his teammates' defensive lapse. 2-1 Caps, at 2:54. Forty seconds later, the Caps got another penalty. There were still nine seconds remaining on their first penalty so the Wings got a short 5-on-3 opportunity. They got a nice set up and cycled the puck well, pressuring the Caps well but it just resulted in another Washington penalty and a 5-on-3 chance that was just over twice as long as the first. This time, they scored. Right after a faceoff, Lidstrom took a shot from the point after taking the pass from Samuelsson. It hit Shanahan on the way to the net and bounced right to Zetterberg, who had a wide open net in which to shoot. He scored his second of the night on the play, at 5:27 and tied the score up once again. Since the goal came on a 5-on-3, the Wings remained on the power play, though this chance was cut short by a Shanahan penalty. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had a great shift on the ensuing 4-on-4 (Hank especially) and the Caps power play was killed off as well. At 10:59, Ovechkin, who had been relatively quiet since his goal, knocked Andreas Lilja on his can at center ice. Lilja, who is 6'5", was admiring a pass he had made when Alex the Great streaked in and nailed him, instantly earning him FSN's Check of the Game (see picture below). That has to the best thing about Ovechkin, that he is physical as well as offensively skilled, and won't back down from a hit. I doubt we'll see much of that from Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin's hit was pretty indicative of the Caps' game, though his teammates didn't deal out hits that were as spectacular, for the most part. The game had good flow at this point and was very physical, something the Wings struggle with at times but last night they seemed to be able to handle it. Much of the rest of the period consisted of the teams trading chances and hits. The Wings did have to kill off one penalty but they didn't have much trouble doing that. At 18:19, the Caps hit the post but the goal judge thought it was a goal. The red light went on and the Caps' obnoxious goal horn sounded while both teams paused for a moment before the ref waived it off and play continued. Holmstrom bowled over his own goalie on the play and is lucky Osgood didn't end up being hurt. Shots were 15-7 Wings. Third Period Jason Williams had a great chance all alone out front about 30 seconds into the period but Kolzig made a great save and kept the score tied at 2. A 4:01, Pavel Datsyuk scored a nice goal on a 2-on-1 to give the Wings their first lead of the game. Cleary, who seems to have a knack for getting in on 2-on-1's (but not at starting with the puck on them), again acted as a distraction while Pavel held on the puck the whole time on the near side. He faked going straight at the net before cutting across ice and releasing the puck in the slot as he fell to the ice, scoring in the left side of the net. 3-2 Wings. At 6:30, the Caps had a good shift and ended up hitting the post but that was as close as they got to scoring there. Brett Lebda went to the box at 9:03 for hooking. Kris Draper, trying to force a breakaway, was called for holding at the blueline, handing the Caps a 5-on-3 opportunity. It was a good kill by the Wings, however, who were cheered by the very vocal Wings fans in the arena. At 16:06, every Wings fan's heart skipped a beat as Steve Eminger laid a dirty knee-on-knee hit on Pavel Datsyuk at center ice. It was a last ditch effort by Eminger since Pavel was just about to spring into the Caps zone for a solid scoring chance. Fortunately, Datsyuk got up and seemed to be fine. Eminger got a penalty on the play and the Wings capitalized. Playing to the "Let's Go Red Wings" chant, the Wings extended their lead at 17:07. Nick Lidstrom, after pump-faking once, let loose his trademark blast and beat Kolzig cleanly, putting the Wings up 4-2. Datsyuk got a little revenge for the hit that caused the power play by getting an assist on the goal. The Caps emptied their net in the final minute but Babcock wasn't kind enough to put Zetterberg on the ice to attempt the hat trick. I suppose that's a cheap way to get a third goal anyway. The Wings iced the puck with 5 seconds left and paid for it after the ensuing face-off, as the Caps scored with .4 seconds left, a slap shot from the point that beat Osgood glove side. The Wings are fortunate they were up by two and not by one at the time. Not the greatest goal for Ozzie to give up but he played very well the rest of the game so I won't get on him too much. Shots were 12-8 Caps and 30-30 for the game. Notes Mickey Redmond made the trip for FSN, despite his usual policy of staying home on Wings road trips because of his celiac disease. ... Jiri Hudler was in the lineup again but played a measly 2:58 and was pretty much a non-factor. ... Babcock rolled three lines instead of the Wings' usual four for most of the game. ... Wings with multiple-point nights included Shanahan (2A), Lidstrom (1G, 2A), and Zetterberg (2G). ... The Wings have won their last three on the road. .... Next up, Pittsburgh and Sid the Kid Monday night at home. The puck drops at 7:00 PM ET (not 7:30). The game will be televised by OLN and will be preceeded by an OLN special called "Homecoming," which will focus on Darren McCarty's return to Detroit with the Flames (6:30 ET).


At 12/10/2005 05:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the game and it's worth noting that Alexander Ovechkin was pretty clearly the best player on the ice. In white OR black.

Just always seemed to be at the right place at the right time and without a defender on him. Really impressive.

At 12/11/2005 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Brian List said...

That's surprising because I didn't notice Ovechkin much either on TV. It seemed like Datsyuk/Zetterberg were the best on the ice most of the night.


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