Wings Savor Valuable 5-1 Win in Anaheim
With the second half of the season well underway, the Red Wings know there are games they need to win even if the odds are against them. Last night was one of those games, as Detroit skated into Honda Centre and reminded the Anaheim Ducks how to play a good road game. Justin Abdelkader exploded offensively, notching his first NHL career hat trick, and Pavel Datsyuk got goal #250 and assist #500 of his career in what was a stellar outing for the Wings. Both players will more than likely say, however, that the best part of last night was earning 2 points against a hot team that many expected more tenacity from.
The game was hectic with plenty of compelling moments, not all of them good for Detroit. Anaheim seemed to score the opening goal, but it was determined that Emerson Etem kicked the puck in with the heel of his skate before it crossed the goal line behind Jimmy Howard. After review, the call was overturned, and the game remained scoreless. As is the scary tradition with Detroit--or so it seems to be, at least--they did not immediately clamp down, and ended up still giving up the opening goal to Teemu Selanne on a smooth cross-ice pass during an odd-man rush.
That seemed to finally wake up the Wings.
Abdelkader and Datsyuk each notched a goal in the 1st to secure the lead before the end of the opening frame. They did not look back from that point, with Abdelkder scoring again 3 minutes into the 2nd, summarily ending Viktor Fasth's night. Jonas Hiller came on to man the Ducks' crease, but the bleeding just would not stop. 10 minutes later, Abby would bury his third of the night, and Detroit would head into the 3rd with a 4-1 lead.
Amidst the resounding chant of "Let's go Red Wings!" coming from the stands in Honda Centre, Detroit kept pressure on the Ducks, never really giving them time to properly get into their rhythm. Despite being outshot all game long, the Red Wings played as solid a game as they've mustered all season defensively, and it seemed as though the idea of simplicity was starting to sink in. For a moment, it looked as though Abdelkader would have a 4-goal night at the 15:17 mark of the 3rd, but replays proved otherwise, as what appered to be Abby's stick making contact with the puck turned out to be an Anaheim limb, so the last Red Wing to play the puck, namely Johan Franzen, got credit for the 5-1 goal.
Equally admirable last night was Howard, who barred the door after the review on Etem and subsequent Selanne goal. Jimmy has done this many times this season, he just hasn't always had his teammates roar to life with 5 unanswered goals on the heels of his determined netminding. Howard was also stellar on the PK, which actually functioned very well as a unit last night.
All in all, it was a fun match to watch for Wings fans. It will be interesting to see the changes made for tomorrow's encore, as the Wings go right back to Honda Centre to try and do it all again for another precious pair of points, as Detroit's season ages into the 30's.