Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wings 4, Oilers 3 (SO)

The Wings finally got a win in Edmonton, beating the Oilers 4-3 in a single-round shootout. Fernando Pisani and Sergei Samsonov both failed to score on their attempts and William's third shootout goal set up the game winner by Henrik Zetterberg on the Wings' third shot. Manny Legace did get the start and made a decent comeback, making up in part for his less-than-adequate outings of late. He allowed three goals but each of them came off either a drastic deflection or a solid screen so he can't be held too accountable for them. When called upon, Manny was very strong, making some very good saves and restoring confidence. He was tested early in the game, as the Wings were a little slow out of the gates and the Oilers sought to get ahead early. His solid play, however, allowed the Wings to get it together and before long, they were in control of the game for the most part. For long stretches of the game, Manny wasn't tested much but he kept alert and was ready when the Oilers got a chance. Two of the three Edmonton goals came on fairly harmless plays and the third was the result of a defensive zone turnover by Mathieu Schneider while the Wings were on the power play. Legace didn't need to do much during the shootout, as Pisani shot the puck high and Samsonov partially fumbled it as he made the shot, thereby sending it slowly just wide, but he stood his ground well. Babcock has a problem now. It depends on who he goes with tomorrow night and how whoever it is does but as of right now, both goalies are playing well again. If he wants a playoff starter, it's going to be hard to decide as things are. One game doesn't get Legace back on the pedestal but he isn't in the doghouse anymore. Chris Chelios at first didn't seem to be having a very strong game. He had at least two notable turnovers that came at bad times and at bad positions on the ice as well as an unfortunate penalty that resulted in a lengthy 5-on-3. However, he made up for it after the penalty. As soon as he left the box, he was the recipient of a pass from Zetterberg at center ice, as Chris Pronger skating hard to cover him. Pronger fell at the blueline, however, and Chelios ended up with a ton of room on the right wing. It looked like he was just going to take a slap shot and leave it at that but he decided to pump-fake Roloson and then release a quick wrist shot. Amazingly enough, the shot beat Roloson glove side. The goal tied the game at two and came as a big surprise. It was also a power play goal. The first goal of the game came at 10:08 of the first period. It too was a power play goal but it was from Zetterberg, who was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce off the backboards. Pavel Datsyuk had seen Nick Lidstrom coming up and had sent the puck through the slot to the defenseman, whose shot went wide of the net and bounced right to Hank. Zetterberg quickly stuff it into the net before Roloson could get over and the Wings went up 1-0. The Oilers responded a little over two minutes later, when Jarret Stoll's shot was deflected by Kris Draper's stick. They scored again at 11:57 of the second period, just as a power play expired. Andreas Lilja couldn't prevent Raffi Torres from throwing a well-timed screen and Steve Staios' shot blew by Legace, who may have never seen it. Tomas Holmstrom put the Wings ahead at 4:12 on sort of a weird play. The Oilers had generated a lot of pressure for about a minute until Holmstrom finally got the puck out of the zone. Dan Cleary picked it up, taking it through center, and into the Edmonton zone, where he turned and skated width-wise across it. He let loose a harmless backhand shot from 29 feet out but Roloson kicked a rebound out right to Holmstrom on the left wing, putting himself well out of position. Homer had a wide open net and made good use of it, putting it over a diving Roloson to make it 3-2. Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn't admit defeat. They tried hard to comeback and were successful, despite apparently shooting themselves in the foot by taking a couple late penalties. They ended up scoring shorthanded, when Pisani's individual effort resulted in his shot going in off Lidstrom's outstretched stick in the crease. The goal came at 18:03 and the Wings were unable to score again despite getting another power play, beginning at 19:06. They began overtime on the power play and eventually got a couple good chances but couldn't put it away. Neither could the Oilers, despite having a disconcerting number of odd-man rushes. Pavel Datsyuk was the first to go in the shootout. He deked and tried a backhand shot but Roloson made a glove-hand save. Pisani tried a straight up shot for the Oilers but ended up sending it into Legace's shoulder and over the net. Jason Williams made a nice backhand-to-forehand move and it paid off. He got his third shootout goal in three tries. Sergei Samsonov's deke almost worked but he couldn't get enough on the shot and it just trickled wide left. Henrik Zetterberg had a chance to put it away after the two Oiler's failed and he got the job done with a forehand-to-backhand deke that beat Roloson five-hole. I thought the Wings did a good job of handling Edmonton's speed, for the most part. They did give up a fair number of dangerous rushes but they were able to use good stickwork to break them up most of the time and Legace was able to make the save on the rest. Robert Lang took an idiotic goaltending interference penalty when he skated behind Roloson and through the crease not long after Edmonton went ahead with their second goal. Not very good timing, Robert. You're lucky Chelios scored, after taking a penalty himself as a result of your stupidity. Dan Cleary was an animal all night. He was great on the penalty kill, getting probably more time than usual as the usual PK suspect such as Lidstrom, Maltby, Schneider and Chelios headed to the box at various times. He had an absolutely glorious chance to score midway through the third period after a Johan Franzen shot was partially blocked. He picked up the puck out front and had Roloson literally down and out as he exercised great patience with a variety of moves intended to move himself into prime scoring position. With the net wide open and Roloson looking completely helpless, he shoveled the puck and sent it high. Better luck next time, Dan. I didn't think The Captain looked "on his game" tonight. Can't expect him to be every night, I guess. Brendan Shanahan had some good jump and may be about to have a big game. This game was too close for comfort and because of that, I really don't like the idea of facing the Oilers in the playoffs. The win put the Wings one point ahead of Ottawa and Carolina for temporary league lead. Unfortunately, the Oilers got a point when the Wings should have won in regulation and that'll make the Vancouver game that much tougher. The Canucks have to win even more now.


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