The Wings wrapped up their three-game West Coast swing with a dominating 7-3 win over Phoenix last night. They showed some real jump early but got into penalty trouble and had to withstand some persistent pressure from the Coyotes, who did not want to give up the whole game.
Five Wings finished with multiple points but most notable was Nicklas Lidstrom. His goal and two assists likely cemented his place as the forerunner for the Norris, though I'm sure it won't be as certain as it should be because of the Canadian media's love affair with Bryan McCabe. Lidstrom now leads all NHL defensemen in points with 58.
Mikael Samuelsson missed the game due to a sore wrist but was replaced in the lineup by Mark Mowers, who played on the line with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. Less than a minute in, Holmstrom took the puck down the right wing and sent a nice backhand pass to the front of the net. I initially thought Zetterberg redirected the pass over Curtis Joseph (I'm not the only one
) but it turns out it was Mowers, who gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at :59.
The Wings continued to dictate the pace of the game for the next couple minutes and this resulted in another goal. Pavel Datsyuk was hooked with the puck out front, resulting in a delayed call, and Lidstrom moved up as a result, taking the puck and letting loose a shot that was stopped by Joseph. The rebound went right to Brendan Shanahan in the slot, who ripped the puck into the net and punished the Phoenix defense for ceasing to play when the ref's arm went up. 2-0 Wings at 3:26.
Six minutes into the game, the Wings were outshooting Phoenix 6-1 but things began to even out as the refs began to make some calls.
The first came at 6:06 and the resulting penalty kill was a good one, with Manny Legace making a couple great saves. Andreas Lilja was called for holding the stick with 18 seconds remaining on the initial penalty but the subsequent 5-on-3 was uneventful.
At 10:23, Chris Chelios was called for interference but this was killed off as well. Immediately following the Phoenix power play, the Wings took the puck down the ice in an odd-man rush. Henrik Zetterberg took the puck down the right wing and looked to center it to Pavel Datsyuk but it was blocked by the Coyote defenseman, who had fallen in a desperate attempt to cut off the pass. The puck came right back to Hank and he had a wide open net because Joseph had committed to Datsyuk. Zetterberg put it in the net and gave the Wings a 3-0 lead.
The Coyotes really began to lay on the body after this, determined not to bow out of the game gracefully. They nearly scored at 17:58, when Mike Ricci's shot gave Manny a little trouble. The play was reviewed but was ruled no-goal. The Wings went on the penalty kill, however, because the play happened on a delayed call.
The ensuing Phoenix power play was a good one and resulted in another Red Wing penalty 22 seconds into it, when Chris Chelios was called for cross-checking. The Coyotes wasted very little time in scoring on the 5-on-3, making it 3-1 at 18:38 off the goal from Shane Doan.
They struck again 52 seconds later (still on the power play) when Steve Reinprecht redirected Zybnek Michalek's point shot into the corner on Manny's stick side. Legace had no chance on that one. 3-2.
So, after starting the period so strongly, the Wings allowed the Coyotes to storm back and put the end result a bit more in doubt.
The Coyotes controlled the play more at the start of the second period but neither team was really able to get much going. The Wings finally got a power play of their own four minutes in but it was pretty anemic to begin with. The third unit was solid, however, and ended up drawing another penalty, giving the team a short 5-on-3 opportunity. They weren't able to score, however, and the Coyotes got a lift from conducting a nice penalty kill.
Phoenix was very tight on the puck and there wasn't a whole lot of room most of the time. When they weren't as tight, though, the Wings took advantage. They scored again at 11:29 and gave themselves another two goal lead with a goal by Steve Yzerman. For most of the game, the Lang-Williams-Yzerman line had been rather weak, in my opinion, but they were good on that shift. Not long before Yzerman's goal, Jason Williams had almost scored after taking a pass from Chris Chelios and tipping it into Joseph's face (essentially). Yzerman's goal was the result of a nice pass from Robert Lang from behind the net. The Captain shoveled the puck under Joseph as he was bowled over to make it 4-2 at 11:29.
The Wings seemed pretty energized after that but the Coyotes didn't care. They responded with another goal at 12:49 to bring themselves within one again. Ricci ended up with the puck, which had been bouncing around the zone, and beat Legace stickside from 13 feet out. Not much chance on that one, just unfortunate Ricci was left uncovered.
Not long after that, the teams went to four aside as Joseph and Maltby were called for slashing and roughing respectively. The 4-on-4 lasted less than a minute, however, because the Coyotes had another player go to the box, giving the Wings a 4-on-3 power play. The Wings put on a textbook example of how to run a man-advantage and it resulted in their fifth goal at 15:10. Zetterberg, Lang and Lidstrom played catch for a while before striking with a shot in the slot from Hank, who had all the time he needed to rip it past his old teammate. 5-3 Wings.
Fifteen seconds later, the Wings struck again. I was so absorbed in writing down the notes for the last game that I only saw the tail end of the play and I missed the replays because I was writing busy writing on that
goal. All I know is that it was a bad goal for Joseph to give up, a pretty harmless shot from the point by Lidstrom that just beat him before he was set. And Curtis knew it was bad. He was very obviously frustrated after that and dealt out a couple cheapshots with his stick, only one of which was seen by the refs. 6-3 Wings.
At 16:56, Joseph was caught venting his anger and the Wings went back on the power play. Wayne Gretzky did something to tick off the referees and he was slapped with a bench minor so the Wings got a full two minute 5-on-3 to work with. They did a pretty good job but weren't able to get much going until the end. Mathieu Schneider let loose a blast with one second remaining on the man-advantage, though, and it ended up going in off Brendan Shanahan to make it 7-3 at 18:57.
So, the Wings took a look at the Coyotes' attempt at a comeback and laughed.
Curtis Joseph was pulled between periods and was replaced by Philippe Sauve for the third period.
Highlights of the third included:
Henrik Zetterberg's near hat trick off a great personal effort at 7:50 or so. His shot rang off the post, though, and he was denied his 30th goal.
Manny Legace's big saves on Tyson Nash not long after that, causing Ken Daniels to declare, "He's the 'Manny' of the hour tonight!"
The Coyotes getting another 5-on-3 chance but giving up a near breakaway to Nick Lidstrom instead of scoring. The play resulted in a penalty shot, Nick's first, but fortunately for Phoenix, not in a goal, as Nick was stoned by Sauve.
The final score was 7-3, with Steve Yzerman getting credit for the game winning goal.
The two teams will face off again on Tuesday night in Detroit.
... Henrik Zetterberg has scored a point in all but four away games (Chicago, Edmonton, Phoenix on November 1st, 3rd and 5th and November 16th at Calgary). He finished the night with two goals, one assist. ... Other multi-point scorers for the Wings: Robert Lang - two assists, Brendan Shanahan - two goals, one assist, Matheiu Schneider - three assists. ...