Three Questions: Wings-Thrashers
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 72nd game
The Wings posted six goals Friday night, but it was the man between the posts that stole the show. Goaltender Chris Osgood seems to excelling in his extended stay as the starting goaltender for the Red Wings, as he won his fourth game in a row. Osgood made 31 saves to pick up the victory on the road, though from the crowd noises, he must have felt right at home. The Wings’ netminder made some big saves en route to his 24th win of the season, and each time he heard “Ozzie” chants rain down from the stands. He had forward Rich Peverley’s number, robbing him on multiple occasions. Osgood’s stop of the night came on Peverley in the first period, when star forward Ilya Kovalchuk made a wrap-around pass to Osgood’s victim for a one-timer right above the crease. Osgood flung his glove arm, and managed to keep the puck out of the net, preserving the Wings’ one-goal lead at the time. The Thrashers scored a few goals late, but Ozzie made 19 saves through the first two periods, which was crucial in helping the Wings build up the big lead.
What was the game-changing moment?
Detroit started to run away with things when a near goal for Atlanta turned into a Wings’ goal in a matter of seconds. At around the 12-minute mark of the second period, Kovalchuk ripped a shot towards Osgood that looked like a sure goal. The puck went through Osgood’s legs, but somehow hit something and never crossed the goal line. The Wings grabbed the puck, and took off, just like a fast break in basketball (for everyone watching March Madness right now). The transition ended with Johan Franzen tossing a pass over to Pavel Datsyuk, who beat goaltender Kari Lehtonen for his 29th goal of the season and a two-goal lead for Detroit.
How did Jiri Hudler score that one?
Forward Jiri Hudler scored his first goal in 14 games on Friday night, but he got a lot of help from the defensive pairing on the ice at the time. Brett Lebda set up his breakaway, when he hit Hudler in stride with a great saucer pass that covered the whole neutral zone. Maybe even more impressive, however, was the play of Brad Stuart on the shift. Stuart, one of the imposing checkers on the Detroit blue line, stepped up in the neutral zone to flatten forward Todd White. He then hustled back to the defensive zone, grabbed the puck in the midst of some chaos, and fed Lebda with a quick pass. Lebda found Hudler, Hudler scored five-hole for his 21st goal of the season, and the Wings coasted to the win.