Three Questions: Wings-Wild
DRW.com analyzes the Wings' 78th game
After a few tough outings, the Wings bounced back Sunday, and they bounced back fast. The Wings scored twice in the first period, setting the tone for the afternoon contest. Jiri Hudler scored his 23rd goal of the seaon at the 11:21 mark of the first, and Pavel Datsyuk scored his 32nd 1:04 later to put the Wings in the drivers’ seat. The score may have indicated that the game was close in the third, but the Wings dominated from the start, especially on the shot chart. Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom saw 44 shots Saturday afternoon, a classic Wings performance of ‘keep firing the puck on net all night’. Backstrom finally cracked in the final minute, as Marian Hossa beat him at the 19:05 mark to give the Wings the 3-2 win.
What was the play of the afternoon?
The play of the game is Hossa’s game-winner, obviously. But it was a team effort, with Hossa just finishing at the end. It all started with the Wings defensive pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson being able to reign in the puck, and fire a pass from deep in the defensive zone up to the red line. There, Pavel Datsyuk caught the pass and fired it quickly over to Holmstrom, taking advantage of a member of the Wild who fell on his pursuit of Datsyuk. Holmstrom carried the puck over the blue line, drawing the defense’s attention to him. He then slid the puck over to Hossa, who used his lightning-quick release to fire the puck past Backstrom for his 38th goal of the season. Hossa celebrated, the fans screamed, and the Wings held on to pick up their 50th win of the season. The win marked the fourth consecutive season that the Wings have picked up at least 50 wins.
How did Chris Osgood look?
Coach Mike Babcock said that Chris Osgood will be the starting goaltender in the playoffs, and he got the start Saturday afternoon. Osgood looked good between the pipes, turning away 21 shots throughout the day. He kept the Wings in the game with timely saves in the third period, and none were more important then his gigantic save on captain Mikko Koivu. With 4:18 remaining, Koivu let a one-timer fly towards Osgood’s goal, and the Wings netminder snagged the blast with his glove hand. It looked like it was heading into the net to give the Wild the lead, but Osgood kept the puck out, and kept the game tied until Hossa was able to score three minutes later.