Three Questions: Wings-Oilers
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 74th game
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson must like his surroundings when he is in Edmonton; it’s the only NHL city where he has scored a goal. The Red Wings’ defensive prospect scored his first NHL goal last February in Edmonton, and his second happened in the same building. With the Wings trailing 1-0 in the third period, Ericsson took a pass from his defensive partner Brian Rafalski, and fired a shot towards the Edmonton goal. A screen in front of the goal, which consisted of Johan Franzen and Edmonton Steve Staios, caused Ericsson’s shot to change direction. It fooled goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who had been frustrating the Wings all night, and Ericsson’s second career goal tied up the contest.
Rafalski’s assist was note-worthy as well, and not just because it set up the goal. It was the defenseman’s 56th point of the season, which is a career-high marker for one of the Wings’ leaders. Rafalski was sitting at third place in the defensive points race prior to the night’s game.
How did the Wings take the lead?
Franzen and Marian Hossa teamed up to finally push the Wings into the lead with 1:58 remaining. Franzen grabbed the puck near the Detroit bench, and rushed towards the Edmonton zone. After putting a move on Ales Hemsky at the blue line, Franzen faked a shot and flung a pass to Hossa in the slot instead. Using his lightning-like release, Hossa fired the puck past Roloson for his 37th goal of the season.
What turned out to be the goal of the night?
Thirty-two seconds after Hossa’s goal, the Wings scored again, and it seemed to be icing on the cake. Pavel Datsyuk won an offensive-zone face-off back to captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom walked inside the blue line, and fired a shot towards the Edmonton goal. The slapshot was blocked, but the puck ricocheted over to forward Valtteri Filppula, camped out on the right side of the goal. Filppula fired the puck into the Edmonton goal, giving the Wings a two-goal lead with his 11th of the season.
However, Edmonton winger Ales Kotalik scored on a one-timer at the 19-minute mark to move the Oilers within one goal. The Wings held on to get the win, but the goal served to be all the more important when the final buzzer rang. It should serve as a reminder that ‘the game isn’t over ‘til it’s over’, and also how important late-game face-offs are. If Datsyuk didn’t win that face-off, who knows if the Wings would be leaving Edmonton with two points.