Friday, April 07, 2006

Wings 6, Columbus 5 (SO)

Update (12:54 PM): Valtteri Filppula has been re-called from Grand Rapids. Hopefully it's just because they need a forward short-term in place of Zetterberg and not because his injury is a long-term thing. (via. A2Y) -- Matt Update (11:22 AM): Click here for a video of the shootout. (.mpg, 51 MB) -- Matt Zetterberg Update (08. Apr, 10:31 AM): The Detroit News quotes Tomas Holmstrom as saying, "He got a puck in the upper body somewhere." If so, it's interesting that it wasn't noticed. Surely any shot strong enough to cause a rib injury, for example, would have been remembered and scrutinized for a reaction. Does anyone remember him getting hit in the hand by the puck? As the day progresses, news should be coming out, though I doubt we'll know what exactly the injury is, just how long he'll be out. Check the Freep's front page (more specifically, their Breaking News box, which will be on the right if there is any such news), Kukla's Korner, Abel to Yzerman, the LetsGoWings Forums or back here for updates. -- Matt The Wings won 6-5 in a disappointing game against the Blue Jackets tonight. After losing their 4-1 lead midway through the second, a third period goal from Draper made it 5-4 and should've sent the Blue Jackets packing. But their persistence paid off and Nash was able to beat Legace with 33 seconds left to send it to overtime. Legace didn't see the shot, and the goal made for Nash's first hat trick. Nash led all skaters with 10 shots tonight, the rest of his team combining for the other 13 of Columbus' 23 shots. The Wings ended the game with 36 shots. The shootout seemed inevitable while watching the overtime, and Holmstrom was the first to score, as the 10th shooter, to win it in the sudden death rounds of the shootout. The bright spot of the game was seeing Legace as strong as ever during the shootout, making glove saves and closing the gaps along the posts. Also, Holmstrom had a great goal in the shootout, deiking Denis and going high. But the win came with the bad news that Zetterberg left the game near the end of the 2nd period with an "upper body injury." He left the building to go to Detroit Medical Center to have it checked out. He would join Datsyuk ("lower body") and Schneider (groin) as injured Wings. Woolley, Mowers, and Cross all saw action tonight. The Wings are now 6-1 versus Columbus this season. The first period started quickly for the Wings, who opened with a 7-1 shot advantage. At 1:01, Samuelsson scored his 22nd goal (40th point) from Zetterberg and Holmstrom. On the play, Zetterberg made a pretty pass across to Samuelsson, who tipped it in a relatively open net on the 2-on-1. 1-0 Wings. The Wings got some great scoring chances during a stretch around 4 minutes in. Draper had a chance off a rebound on Denis, and Kronwall had his own off a feed from Zetterberg behind the net. You could definitely notice Sergei Fedorov's presence on the ice all night. He was booed fairly loudly, and made quite a few turnovers to finish the game at -1 with only one shot. Lilja made a giveaway at 14:40, but was able to make up for it by diving to deflect the puck from Letowski. At 18:13, Columbus scored a powerplay goal from Nash to make it 1-1. The Wings ended the period with a 12-8 advantage in shots, 5-5 in scoring chances. The period really turned from a quick start from the Wings to a back and forth grind-it-out game, which is all the Blue Jackets could ask for. The 2nd period started with a Blue Jackets powerplay, and Lidstrom made a great play 25 seconds in by breaking up a pass to Nash that would've been an easy backdoor goal. At 2:46, Picard was caught holding up Chelios along the boards behind Legace, and the Wings got their first powerplay of the night. They came into tonight 2 for 11 in their last few games. At 4:14 Kronwall scored his first goal of the season (2nd career NHL goal) from Woolley and Lang. It was a pretty individual goal by Kronwall, who showed veteran patience on the blue line when he found some room, walked in between the circles, and beat Denis up high. Traffic in front and a screen by Shanahan gave Denis no chance on the shot. 2-1 Wings. At 12:22, Legace made the save of the game on a chance from Letowski. On the play, Fedorov carried the puck up along the far boards, and threw it out in front after going behind the net. Letowski jumped on the loose puck, and Legace stoned him. The Wings showed a strong transition game by going from that big save to their own scoring chance. Shanahan picked up a rebound on Denis for his 35th goal, to make it 3-1 Wings. On the play, a point shot from Draper rebounded and Mowers got a chance deep on Denis, the rebound going to Shanahan for his Johnny-on-the-spot dunk in. It was an important 2 goal swing with the Legace save leading to the Wings' goal. Important for the Wings' later lack of defense. Just 1:17 later, the Wings got another, this time from Jason Williams - his 19th of the season. On the play, Yzerman was patient behind Denis and fed it out to an open Williams between the circles, who rocketed it top corner to make it 4-1. On a side note, Williams is one goal away from reaching 20 goals and becoming the 8th Red Wing this season to reach that mark, which would be the first time in Red Wings history for that to happen. Yzerman also extended his points streak to 13 points in now 10 games. This is where the Wings reach the dreaded 3 goal lead versus Columbus and the game goes sloppy. We've had plenty of examples of the Wings giving up the big lead to Columbus. Just a few weeks back, Columbus rallied to score four goals against the Wings in 7:30 during the third to win it 5-4 in the SO. Even Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond were joking about how fast the Wings' 3 goal lead could evaporate. And it did. At 11:02, Columbus started their comeback with a goal from Hartigan off a Corey Cross turnover. On the play, Cross attempted a dangerous pass to Lang in the Wings' zone, and paid the price with Hartigan capitalizing on the broken play. 4-2 Wings. That's 3 goals in 3:11 of play. At 13:10, a Lilja giveaway led to a Malhotra chance that hit the post, nearly making it a one-goal game. The Wings had their own missed opportunities, with the puck bouncing on Yzerman's stick in what would've been a great bang-bang feed from Lang. Soon later, Williams had a sure-goal with a backdoor opportunity on Denis off an Yzerman feed, but couldn't handle the puck quick enough and was denied by Denis on the shot and rebound. At 16:42, Fritsche scored for Columbus to make it 4-3. It was the result of a Lang giveaway, with a quick pass from Chimera to feed Fritsche on the doorstep. That makes for 2 Columbus goals off of Wings turnovers in their zone, something that had to bug Babcock going into the third. With 10 seconds left, Cleary charged the net hard and had to leap over Denis to avoid crushing contact. The contact was still enough to knock Denis down and draw a few slashes, but surprisingly went uncalled. The third started with a great chance from Lang on a breakaway at 1:15, but he hit the post. A delay of game penalty on Fedorov at 1:57 gave the Wings their second powerplay. Lang played well during the man advantage, with some redirects and carrying the puck to the net. This is when Ken Daniels notices Zetterberg's absence from the Wings bench, as it is always strange to see Draper out on the powerplay. The Wings later released a response that Zetterberg had left the game late in the second with an "upper body injury," and went to Detroit Medical Center to have it checked out. At 4:21, Columbus tied it literally on a tic-tac-"toe" play with Nash shooting it off the left skate of Woolley near the backdoor to make it 4-4. Nash's second goal on the night. At 9:16, Draper put the Wings ahead 5-4 with his 8th goal of the season. On the play, Shanny fed Draper on a breakaway, and Denis committed early leaving Draper room to score. Lang got a holding penalty right after the goal, but it was later nullified by a Vyborny hooking call. The Wings handled the puck well late in the period, and were in the Columbus zone up to around 1:10 left. Columbus was able to gain the Wings' zone and get Denis pulled for an extra skater. Kronwall attempted a clear, but the puck was turned over and Nash threw it at the net, capitalizing on Legace's inability to follow it. 5-5 tie. The overtime period was pretty uneventful, and it was inevitable that the game was going to end with the shootout. Williams, Yzerman, and Lang were the Wings' three shooters, up against Balastik, Nash, and Hartigan. Legace was a monster during the shootout, and made some pretty impressive glove and kick saves. Williams missed the net on his attempt, Yzerman hit the post, and Lang gave a pretty lousy no-deik attempt to send it to the sudden death rounds. Next up were Letowski and Samuelsson, who both were denied. Vyborny was stopped with a glove save along the post, setting the stage for a Holmstrom opportunity to seal the win. He came across center ice weaving and stick-handling like I've never seen him do, and he scored to make it a 6-5 shootout win for the Wings. All in all, positives I took from the game included Holmstrom and Legace's strong outing during the shootout, Yzerman continuing his point streak, and Draper scoring what should've been the game-winning goal. Negatives are much more obvious. Giving up the 4-1 lead, and giving up the 5-4 lead with 30 seconds left. This is not exactly unprecedented stuff, and the Wings shouldn't be letting this happen this late in the season. Also, the "upper body injury" to Zetterberg late in the second is no small matter. Though we don't know whether it's just because he has the flu or if it is really an injury we should be worried about. Giveaways proved painful for the Wings, with Kronwall, Lang, and Cross all making mistakes leading to Columbus goals. Another negative is Lidstrom playing 31 minutes, with Schneider out with a groin injury. Lidstrom definitely deserves some rest. Losing a lead like that at home, and the fact that the Wings are on a 9 game road winning streak with 28 road wins makes me believe that having home ice advantage may turn out to not be worth its cost in injuries with this team. Seriously, with the way 8th seeds come in hot and the fact that the Wings are an old team in areas, why not sit some guys out and take the 2 seed if it comes down to it? Is the 1 seed worth it if it means injuries in these final few games? I said it after the Wings' loss to Columbus on March 25, and I'll say it again, sit the key players and don't worry about the President's Trophy. We are guaranteed the 1 or 2 seed either way! Do the math. The Wings and Dallas both have 6 games left, and the Wings lead Dallas 114 to 105. The Wings win one of their last six games, and Dallas would need to win out to pass the Wings. Dallas is 6-2-2 in their last 10, and has had a 6-game win streak twice this season, but I still say its a stretch. Let's all hope the Zetterberg injury turns out to be nothing and serves as a reminder to Babcock to not push this team too hard in these final, meaningless games. Head over to Abel to Yzerman for coverage on Zetterberg. Apparently there's word that he had been suffering from flu symptoms before the game, but it's still odd to me that a hospital trip was necessary. Let's hope for the best, and more word should come before gametime tomorrow night. Also, the Letsgowings forums are always a good place to read fan reactions. They remind us that Zetterberg had been pounded during the Calgary game on Monday, barely avoiding a knee-to-knee courtesy of Marchment. Abel to Yzerman game report


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