Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wings 6, Thrashers 7

The Wings fell their second game on the extended schedule against the Eastern Conference, losing 7-6 to the Thrashers in what turned out to be a power play emphasised, pond hockey style game. Jimmy Howard got the start for the Wings, but was pulled early in the 2nd as an attempt to spark the Wings. Brendan Shanahan had 5 points on the night (1 G, 4 A), and dominated down low behind the Atlanta net. I hated the Thrashers' powder blue home jerseys. For an expansion team that had my favorite modern jersey, they just ruined it. Also, I totally forgot Hossa was a Thrasher. It'll take a few years before that sinks in for a guy who was so successful as a Senator. First Period The game started out with the Thrashers on the attack. At 3:00, Howard made a great save in traffic, Eric Boulton falling on top of Howard and getting a goaltendering interference call. With the Wings' injury troubles, especially at goaltender with Osgood and Legace injured or recovering, it was a bit more scary seeing Howard bumped around. With the Wings on the power play, the Thrashers continued their momentum and caught the Wings deep in their zone, capitalizing on a steal for a Jean-Pierre Vigier breakaway goal. It was a sloppy turnover by the Wings, and a 2-on-0 break ensued, so it definitely wasn't Howard's fault. The shorthander made it 1-0 ATL. The Wings were still sluggish midway through the period, but Atlanta got two quick penalties with holding calls on Jim Slater and Serge Aubin. The Wings had a 5-on-3, and a chance to gain some momentum. And they did just that. Shanahan fed Pavel Datsyuk with a cross crease pass from the left side, and Pavs slam dunked it to make it 1-1 at 11:23. Assists to Shanahan (obviously) and Lidstrom. Since the Wings scored on a 5-on-3, they still had a one-man advantage power play remaining, but failed to convert. At 15:13, Howard made a tough save that stung him near the mask. Soon after, at 17:05, the Thrashers scored on a goal from Patrik Stefan, to make it 2-1 ATL. On the play, Howard played a rebound out in front bad, and got caught out of position near the top of the crease. At 19:37, Chris Chelios had an awful giveaway that exposed Howard, but the rookie made a key save, allowing the Wings to escape the period down only one, with shots 14-10 ATL. Second Period The Wings opened the period well, getting an early goal from Datsyuk at 2:04 - his second of the night. Assists to Shanahan and Ledba. On the play, Shanahan was near the right circle and passed it in between the circles to Datsyuk, who had a wicked wrist shot that beat Michael Garnett. 2-2 tie. But the excitement was short-lived for Wings fans. At 3:07, the Thrashers capitalized on a 3-on-2 rush, centering the puck to Bobby Holik, who deflected it and got his own rebound to make it 3-2 ATL. Not much Howard could've done. Wings Coach Mike Babcock pulled Howard at this point, not necessarily because he was allowing bad goals, but more to try and spark the Wings into a win. Osgood came in. At 3:47, Mathieu Schneider got called for a 4-minute high sticking penalty. A minute or so into the penalty kill, Daniel Cleary got called for hooking, giving the Thrashers a 5-on-3. Former Wing Vyacheslav Kozlov scored at 6:05, with a back door pass from Kovalchuk. Not much Ozzie could've done. 4-2 ATL. With things going from bad to worse, Lilja was called for hooking at 6:30, on a bogus call that should've instead been diving on the Atlanta player or at the very least offsetting minors. And of course the Thrashers took advantage of their fortune, getting a 5-on-3 goal from Hossa at 6:48. It was a tough play for Osgood, as the puck took a weird bounce out in front, and left him out of position as Hossa shot. 5-2 ATL. At 8:01, the Thrashers literally had a 3-on-0 breakaway (the Wings still on the PK, down one), with Petrovicky smartly taking it all the way, but with option passes in Modry and Stefan. 6-2 ATL. Towards the 5-minute mark, the Wings generated some good pressure in the Atlanta zone, with Franzen getting a chance on Garnett. This continued into the remaining minutes, as Datsyuk had a big chance followed by a Zetterberg rebound that should've been a goal if he could've put some air under it. At 1:40 left, Shanahan tried a wrap around on Garnett, and dug after the puck in vain after the save. At 1:17 left, Franzen had a semi-break on the right wing, and drew a Brad Larsen hooking call. Schneider drew another Atlanta penalty, giving the Wings a 5-on-3 going into the third. Definitely not game-over, yet. Shots 13-8 Wings in the 2nd. Third Period The Wings capitalized on the 5-on-3 just 24 seconds in, with a left circle, farside top corner blast from Shanahan, his 18th of the season. 6-3 ATL. Assists Lidstrom and Schneider. The Wings had some good chances on the remaining power play, but just had one shot. At 2:02, Jason Williams scored from the left circle, picking up a Shanahan rebound from the opposite side and catching Garnett out of position. Assists Shanahan and Lebda. 6-4 ATL. At 2:48, Osgood made a beautiful save on a Kovalchuck breakaway, keeping the Wings just two goals down. At 5:16, Lebda hooked Hossa to prevent a dangerous scoring chance. It was a good penalty to take. At 6:28, Draper drew a Modry penalty in the Atlanta zone, after grinding in the corner after the puck. At 7:08, Hossa was called with holding, giving the Wings another 5-on-3 and a glorious chance to get even. At 8:01, Schneider scored with a shot between the circles, again off a Shanny feed. Assists Shanahan and Holmstrom. 6-5 ATL. At 8:41, the Wings still with a man advantage, Tomas Holmstrom scored by trailing a streaking Zetterberg and picking up the rebound. Assists Zetterberg and Datsyuk. 6-6 ATL. At this point the game went to a stalemate for the next five minutes, with both teams on the edge. But Atlanta drew next blood at 15:49, making it a 7-6 ATL lead with a Stefan breakaway goal. On the play, Lilja lost his stick and was unable to block the shot. The Wings pulled Ozzie at 19:11, but couldn't generate many, if any, chances on Garnett. 7-6 ATL, final. Shots in the period were 13-10 Wings, for a total 36-32 Wings. If was a tough loss for the Wings, especially especially charging back early in the 3rd. A tough night for the goaltenders for sure: Howard 13 saves on 16 shots, Osgood 12 saves on 16 shots, and Garnett 30 saves on 36 shots. The Wings gave up 3 power play, 3 even strength, and one short handed goal. The Wings had 4 power play goals and 2 even strength. A for Shanahan, it turned out it was his 1300th game and he was sick. Says Babcock:
"It was his 1,300th game and he gets five points, so that shows you where he's at. He was sick tonight. He should be sick more often."
As for pulling Howard, Babcock admitted its ineffectivity:
"It didn't work tonight. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely."


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