Three Questions: Wings-Penguins
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 53rd game
Goaltender Ty Conklin shut out his former mates for his sixth shutout of the season, but he might not have even came away with a victory if it wasn’t for his big save on Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin in the first period. At the 9:54 mark of the opening period, the Penguins were on an early power play, and Malkin had a wide-open net to swat a rebound home. He missed on the initial swing, and when he made contact the next, Conklin had sprawled back towards the goal and stretched out his glove hand. The Wings’ netminder got enough glove on the puck to send it wide of the net, keeping the game scoreless until Pavel Datsyuk scored his 21st goal of the season.
Datsyuk’s goal was the other significant play of the afternoon. The Red Wings held the Penguins off the scoreboard during some early penalty trouble, and then capitalized when they had their opportunity. With forward Petr Sykora in the box, Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the Pittsburgh zone, and slammed on the brakes along the boards near the top of the right circle. Zetterberg threw the puck towards the Penguins’ goal, and Datsyuk capitalized on a mistake by the Penguins goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury poorly handled the Zetterberg dump-in, letting the puck bounce right into the slot and onto Datsyuk’s stick. ‘Pav’ buried the rebound, giving the Wings the lead that they never relinquished.
How did the Wings win this game?
The Red Wings were able to contain the Pittsburgh offense because of efforts like the one from Dan Cleary. The Wings’ forward sacrificed the body throughout the entire game, blocking five shots. He showed his team’s determination to win in the closing seconds of the second period, when he dove headfirst in front of defenseman Ryan Whitney’s slap shot from the point on a Pittsburgh power play. The puck caught him in the back, between his numbers and his helmet, but Cleary kept on fighting until the next whistle. Cleary did all this after already being hurt once from blocking a shot in the first period, and playing through pain after he was slashed by goaltender Dwayne Roloson in the Wings’ last game against Edmonton. The Red Wings followed his example, blocking 16 shots Saturday afternoon, which was key to helping Conklin shut down his former team.
How did Marian Hossa handle the hostile Pittsburgh crowd?
Believe it or not, Marian Hossa didn’t receive the warmest welcome in his first game back at Mellon Arena. The prize of the free agency period this summer chose the Red Wings for the sole purpose of a Stanley Cup championship, and the city of Pittsburgh didn’t take too kindly to his choice. Hossa was booed every time he touched the ice Saturday afternoon, and the chants only grew louder when he touched the puck. It didn’t seem to bother him, however, as he played a great game. He left his mark on the 3-0 victory by scoring the game’s second goal, his 30th of the season. Picking up the puck in the neutral zone, Hossa carried the puck over the blue line, then reversed and cut back along the edge of the Pittsburgh zone. Protecting the puck from the Penguins’ Jordan Staal, Hossa charged towards the Pittsburgh goal, and beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a quick backhand off the far post.