Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wings 6, Lightning 3

The Wings wrapped up their three-game road trip with a win last night, beating the Lightning 6-3 in Tampa Bay in front of a large contingent of their own fans. The defending Stanley Cup Champions had Detroit playing catch up for two periods but the Wings' exploded with two goals early in the third period to take the lead. They never looked back, scoring once more before mid-period and ending their two-game slide. Both teams started with their big guns on the ice, the Wings with Pavel Datsyuk centering Jason Williams and Brendan Shanahan and the Lightning with Brad Richards between Martin St. Louis and Fredrik Modin. Nicklas Lidstrom and Andreas Lilja were on defense for Detroit while Darryl Sydor and Cory Sarich manned the point for Tampa. The St. Pete Times Forum was filled with the "Let's go Red Wings" chant as play began, providing a friendly atmosphere for the Wings to skate in. Sidenote: is it just me or are Wings fans more vocal on the road than they are at the Joe? Jamie Rivers, in the lineup for Brett Lebda and playing his first in eight games, went to the penalty box for hooking at 2:42. The Lightning got set up and put on some good pressure but the puck was cleared a few times and it looked like the penalty would be killed off. Then, at 4:29, the Lightning scored a surprising goal and took the lead. Fredrik Modin took a shot from the point and Chris Osgood made the save but the puck went high in the air on the rebound. Instead of catching it with his glove, Osgood tried to bat it out of the air with his stick but he missed. Rob DiMaio crashed the net and knocked the puck in, bowling Osgood over in the process. The Wings protested the goal and debated with the referees, either because Osgood was knocked down or because they thought it was knocked in by a glove (Ken Daniels thought this was the case) but the goal stood. 1-0 Tampa. The Wings responded less than a minute and a half later when Pavel Datsyuk took a pass at his own blue line from Nick Lidstrom, skated through center around two Lightning defensemen and ripped off a shot from just inside the right circle. He beat Tampa Bay goalie John Grahame just inside the left post to tie the score at one (5:53). Great individual effort by Pavel and a nice up-ice pass from Nick, who was standing on his own goalline at the time. Despite that play, which was the result of a great pass, the Wings were not very crisp passing the puck offensively at this stage in the game, I noted. At 9:39, Chris Osgood was called for tripping but it was a pretty weak call. Dave Andreychuk had skated right through the crease in Osgood's face and stumbled a bit after his feet made contact with the goalie's stick. Veteran ref Kerry Fraser, who didn't make the call, talked it over with NHL Competition Committee-member Brendan Shanahan, who looked more incredulous than anything else. Fortunately for the Wings, the refs evened the score by calling Evgeny Artyukhin for goaltender interference a mere six seconds later, just after the start of the Tampa Bay power play. With the teams skating four a side, Jason Woolley drew another penalty, giving the Wings a 4-on-3 power play. They generated some good pressure but the closest they got to scoring was when Williams hit the post at 14:27. The Lightning got another power play before the end of the period but didn't score. At the end of the period, Tampa led in shots with 13, nine of which came on the power play. The Wings only had five but two of them came with the man advantage. Tampa set a physical tone to the game, out-hitting Detroit 7-3 in the first. Artyukhin in particular had a few big hits along the boards. During the first intermission, Ken Daniels sat down with former Wings head coach Scotty Bowman and asked him for his thoughts on the Wings' Fathers' Week. He said he thought it was a wonderful idea and opined that it helped build team chemistry. Daniels then asked Bowman what he thought of the "new NHL" and what he'd like to see change. The winningest coach in NHL history replied that he'd like to see more 5-on-5 scoring. He noted that we're seeing more power play and shorthanded goals this season and said he would like to see goalie leg equipment made even smaller. He pointed out that there was much more space in a 6'x4' net 20 years ago when goalie's leg pads were smaller than today. He didn't say anything about upper body protection needing to be smaller, just the big leg pads that were reduced in size already for this season. The Wings began the second period without defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who was hit along the boards in the first by Darren Reid and suffered a hamstring injury on the play. Reid made his NHL debut last night, by the way. Tampa controlled play once more in the second, getting help from referee Blaine Angus, who seemed to take Fraser's silence as license to call everything. Nick Lidstrom took a rare high-sticking penalty at 1:45 and opened the door for another Lightning goal not long after. Dave Andreychuk redirected Pavel Kubina's point shot at 3:18 to put Tampa Bay up by one again. It didn't look like much of a deflection to me and I thought it was a pretty weak goal for Osgood, who had a clear line of sight on Kubina, to let in. The Lightning followed up their goal by controlling the play and forcing the Wings back on their heels for the next couple minutes. Then, Johan Franzen scored kind of out of the blue after taking a through-crease centering pass from Draper, who had carried the puck over the line and down the right wing. Franzen tapped in the pass practically on the goalline and tied the game up at two. It was Franzen's 7th goal of the season but he is still without an assist. Although the score was tied, the Lightning had dominated the play for most of the game. To give you an idea, Tampa had outshot the Wings 20-7 through Franzen's goal. The Wings came on a bit after that, however, and seemed to be doing pretty well until 8:44 when the Lightning scored again. I had just written "Osgood steady" in my notes when Ryan Craig, playing in his first NHL game, made a nice memory for himself by scoring his first NHL goal. Cory Sarich took the initial shot from the point and Craig got his stick on it in front of the net, changing it's direction pretty drastically. Osgood didn't have much of a chance on that one. 3-2 Lightning. For the next ten minutes or so, the teams traded chances and power plays until the Wings evened things up at 18:39. Nick Lidstrom started the play off with pass to Draper from his own blue line. Draper crossed into the Tampa zone, dumping the puck off to Williams who immediately sent it to a streaking Jason Woolley. Woolley, who had just come off the bench, paused and then shot the puck, beating Grahame short side for a nice goal. 3-3. The Wings were in the process of finishing the period with some pressure when Shanahan was called for interference, sort of a BS call. Shanny voiced his displeasure but headed to the box with 9.7 seconds left in the period. On the ensuing face-off, Draper won control of the puck and fell on it. His slowness in getting up made the Lightning a bit upset but they got a shot off before the period ended. Tampa still led in shots, 26-17. With Shanahan in the box, the Wings began the third period shorthanded but they were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone or at center ice for most of the Lightning power play. Once Shanny got out of the box, things really heated up as the Wings put on the pressure. Jason Woolley had a nice chance in the slot but sent the puck back to Lidstrom, who sent a blast at Grahame that was stopped. The rebound went directly to Mikael Samuelsson on the right wing, however, and he one-timed it right back at the Tampa goalie. Grahame must have been surprised at the velocity of the shot and wasn't quite set when it beat him up high, just below the cross-bar. 4-3 Wings, at 2:12. Immediately after the goal, Jason Woolley again got in on the offense but this time the team didn't score. Kirk Maltby took a shot from the point and Woolley was right on the doorstep but Grahame kept the puck out, freezing it for a faceoff. The Wings won the faceoff and Shanny got off a hard shot immediately but it was stopped. A few seconds later, Rivers got off a shot and the rebound went right to Pavel Datsyuk, who knocked it in for his second of the night. John Grahame was pulled at this point and Sean Burke was brought in to replace him. After Datsyuk's second goal, the Lightning regained some control and play evened out a bit as the game headed toward mid period. At 8:48, Burke mistakenly played the puck behind the goalline and outside of the trapezoid, resulting in a Red Wings power play. The Wings made good use of it, scoring at 9:31 to take a three-goal lead. Pavel Datsyuk notched his third point of the night on the play by sending the puck to Henrik Zetterberg who in turn sent it out front to Shanahan. Shanahan one-timed it past his good friend Burke and then batted it in again just to make sure it counted. Someone on the Lightning defense had stupidly left him wide open out front and it made it easy for him to put it in the top right corner. The Lightning got a couple more power plays after that and got a couple good set ups going but they couldn't get the puck past Osgood again. 6-3 Wings final, the Wings' 7th 6+ goal game this season. Next up, Columbus at home on Tuesday. I'll be there, actually.


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