Well, in the rush to get out the door last night, I forgot my notebook so I wasn't able to take notes on the game. So, this won't be a summary as much as a list of observations.
When we first got to our seats, the arena was nowhere near full. Once the game started, the upper bowl was pretty well filled but the lower bowl still had a lot of empty seats. Eventually, most of those seats were filled, peaking sometime during the second period, I think.
Regardless of how full the arena was, it got pretty loud when the Wings scored and there were definitely the expected collective gasps of excitement on scoring chances or cries of anger at the officiating. Still, the atmosphere was fairly tame for most of the game, until the end.
Pavel Datsyuk looked a little out of synch to start the game but got better as the game went on. Robert Lang scored in his first game back but seemed to me to be a step behind the play almost the whole night.
Sergei Fedorov was booed every time he touched the puck, something I found to be a bit ridiculous. Maybe it was appropriate the first season after he left but now it's just stupid. It sure didn't stop him from assisting on two of the Columbus goals.
The fans in my section liked to rag on Rick Nash all night, though they were silenced for a bit when he scored in the first. They also liked to yell "Fire Millen!" occasionally, something I found humorous. One guy tried to get the chant going but it didn't spread.
I didn't quite see it when Lidstrom was hit in the face by the puck but that was a scary couple minutes. I was glad to see him back later in the game.
With the game tied going into the middle of the third period, we started thinking "overtime." But then, Shanahan scored sort of a surprise goal and we hoped the Wings could hold them off for the rest of the game. When they didn't, I started getting a bit nervous, given the Wings' record in overtime this season.
I flinched on every Columbus shot in overtime but fortunately, Osgood was steady. The Wings came close a few times but, as we got closer to the end of overtime, I think most fans at the Joe had the attitude that they didn't want either team to score. We wanted a shootout.
As the final seconds of overtime ticked away, the Joe got louder with anticipation. The rules were explained over the PA system but I wasn't able to hear them very well because of all the cheering. At this point, we were mostly sitting down but just before the shootout actually began, we all stood up and started cheering for Ozzie, who had to face the first shooter. The atmosphere was electric.
When Balastik scored on that first shot, we were deflated a little but then we saw that Babcock had gone with Pavel Datsyuk as his first shooter. Pavel made a beautiful deke on Leclaire and beat him high. The crowd went wild. Then, Rick Nash came out for Columbus. Osgood stoned him and we all went crazy.
Williams put the Wings ahead with a beautiful goal after that and then it was Sergei Fedorov's turn.
The booing he had been forced to endure all game was nothing compared to what he got then, standing alone at center ice. I think every fan in the place was letting him have it at the top of their lungs. He skated in on Osgood and took his shot, trying to beat his old teammate on the blocker side but Ozzie made the save, winning the game for the Wings.
Of course, the fans went nuts and the Wings celebrated to the sound of "Ozzie! Ozzie! Ozzie!" being chanted from the stands.
Sergei was named one of the stars of the game for his two assists and as we filed out, he was soundly booed one last time.
Getting out of the Joe took forever but it had its light moments. The tunnel to the JLA parking garage, was completely packed, wall to wall, and moving very slowly, prompting the comic geniuses among us to "Moo" like the cattle we all felt like.
There was also the occasional cry of "Fedorov sucks!" by the odd drunk fan though I'm not sure who they were talking to. I didn't see a single Columbus fan the whole night.
Overall, it was a great experience and a very exciting finish to the game, for sure. My thoughts on the shootout have been altered somewhat but while it may be an exciting way to win a game, it would still be an awfully sucky way to lose one. I hope it doesn't become commonplace for the Wings to be involved in one because part of the excitement was its rarity.
The pictures are coming but I don't know that they'll be very good. When I go to the Blues game next month, I should have my sister's Rebel 2000, which should produce some quality images for your viewing pleasure.
Update (24. Dec): Links to the pictures are at the top of the sidebar now.