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Three Questions: Wings-Penguins

DRW.com analyzes Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals

Saturday, 05.30.2009 / 11:35 PM ET / News
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
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Three Questions: Wings-Penguins
Who was the Game 1 hero?

It might not have been the game-winner, but Justin Abdelkader had the goal of the night for the Wings.  The Muskegon native, playing in his eighth postseason game, had only three minutes worth of ice-time in the first two periods.  But in the third, he found the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs.  Abdelkader took a pass from Ville Leino behind the Penguins’ goal, and fired a shot towards goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.  The puck hit the side of the net, and popped straight up in the air.  Through a crowd, Abdelkader reached up and knocked the loose puck down with his hand.  With a quick sidestep, Abdelkader fired the puck past Fleury, giving the Wings a 3-1 lead just 2:48 into the final period.

It was a huge goal for the Wings, and the kind of secondary scoring they will need to come out on top in this series.  With Pavel Datsyuk out of the line-up, players like Abdelkader and Leino stepped up to provide much-needed offense.

Abdelkader only played for 5:09, but he made that time count.  Along with the goal, he recorded two shots, two hits, one blocked shot, and he won four of five face-offs.

How did the Wings win this one?


The Wings shut down the duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Game 1, holding Crosby off the score sheet and Malkin to one assist.  Doing that was a team effort, and it starts in goal.  Chris Osgood played a terrific Game 1, turning aside 31 shots on the evening.  He had huge saves in every period, but his biggest save came on Malkin in the second period.  Roughly four minutes into the period, with the game tied, Malkin stole the puck at the Wings’ blue line, and was on a two-zone breakaway with Osgood.  He made a quick move, tried to fire top-shelf glove-side, but Osgood got his glove hand up in time to knock the puck away from any trouble.

But Osgood should give credit to his defense, as always.  Captain Nicklas Lidstrom returned from a lower-body injury for Game 1, and played like his usual self.  Any questions about whether he was ready to play were answered by the end of the first period – Lidstrom led the team in ice-time with 8:09.  Lidstrom and his troops on the blue line shut down Crosby, Malkin, and the rest of Penguins’ offense the whole night.  Brad Stuart had five hits.  Niklas Kronwall had a hit and two blocked shots.  Jonathan Ericsson had three hits.  Brian Rafalski blocked two shots.  Brett Lebda finished plus-one.  All six defensemen ate up at least 10 minutes worth of ice time, and being able to roll all six players helped coach Mike Babcock immensely. 

What about the bounces?

It was a game full of strange bounces off the boards.  Brad Stuart opened up the scoring when his shot hit the end boards, hit Fleury, and bounced into the Penguins’ goal.  Johan Franzen scored the Wings’ second goal from behind the goal line, bouncing it in off Fleury yet again.  Abdelkader scored after his initial shot hit the side of the net and went at least ten feet in the air.  But it was the fact that the Wings generated the chances in the first place that counts.  Pittsburgh veteran forward Bill Guerin said that the bounces off the boards weren’t the problem.

“It’s obviously a luxury for them, they know how the puck comes off [the boards], but hey, they make good plays before that happens.  You cant just put that on the bounces.”

The bounce of them all, however, didn’t land in the net, and the Wings are glad it didn’t.  Four minutes into the third period, Crosby’s shot hit the post, and then landed on Osgood’s back as he was sprawled trying to make the initial save.  It was a fortunate bounce for the Wings, and it’s bounces like that you need to win championships.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89