Wings bounce Ducks with 3-2 shootout win
One team prefers a physical tempo; the other gets it done through speed and finesse.
A season ago, Anaheim led the league in fighting majors, while Detroit keep fighting to a minimum (10 fights).
Few prognosticators thought that the Wings would reach last season’s Western Conference finals. But they answered those skeptics by eliminating both Calgary and San Jose in six-game playoff series, before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Ducks.
Now, many of those same folks rate this season’s Red Wings squad – and not the Ducks -- as the team to beat in the West.
The Red Wings got a dose of retribution on Wednesday with a 3-2 shootout win over the same Ducks that dropped them from last season’s Western Conference finals.
Jiri Hudler scored the game-winner – on the Wings’ final shootout opportunity -- sending a backhand shot into the top of the net past Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
"I kind of knew that I was going to go with the backhand," Hudler siad. "I just watched Pavel (Datsyuk) and Hank (Zetterberg) on their attempts and I saw that was coming out too far from the crease."
Dominik Hasek stopped all three Ducks’ shooters – former Wings’ forward Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Hasek made 13 saves in the game.
The Wings benefited from a strong power play, getting tallies from Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom with the man-advantage.
Special teams were the Red Wings’ Achilles’ heel during the first month or so last season, but in Wednesday’s opener, Detroit had its power play on track, scoring twice on seven chances.
"I would have liked to see us win the game on the four-on-three," said coach Mike Babcock, referring to a Wings' power play in overtime. "But I thought are penalty-kill and our power play were both good. They were really good on their penalty-kill and Brysgalov was really sharp."
Early on, the Ducks (1-1-1) seemed out of sorts after an exhausting week-long business trip to London, England, where they opened the season with back-to-back games against Los Angeles.
The Wings (1-0-0) dominated the first 30-minutes, grabbing a 1-0 lead and badly out-shooting the Ducks. The Wings had a 42-15 advantage in shots for the game.
If not for several spectacular saves by Bryzgalov, the Wings could have mounted a sizeable lead early.
The Wings took a 1-0 lead on their first power-play chance of the season when Zetterberg ran his current home-scoring streak to 17-games with his goal at 9:46 of the first period.
Zetterberg took Datsyuk’s pass along the boards and with Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin sagging toward the crease, Zetterberg cruised into the slot and rifled a wrist shot past Bryzgalov.
Unfortunately, the Ducks came to life to take a lead in the second period on a couple of breaks by Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi, who played in only 15 games with the Wings last season, figured in both Ducks’ second-period goals. He first tied the score, 1-1, at 14:32 of the second period. As the Ducks entered the zone, Perry made a crossing pass that hit a Wings’ skate and deflected into the slot where Bertuzzi scooped it up and fired a shot past Hasek.
Every time Bertuzzi touched the puck he was booed unmercifully by the Wings’ faithful.
The Ducks grabbed a 2-1 lead, when with less than a minute to play in the second, Getzlaf converted Bertuzzi’s takeaway from behind the Wings’ net.
The Wings tied the score in the third, netting their second power play goal at 4:04 of the period. After winning the face-off, Zetterberg followed the puck to the side of the Ducks’ net and flipped it out in front of crease to Holmstrom, who fired the puck over a sprawled Bryzgalov.
"Face-offs are a big part of the game and if you can win the face-offs, you're going to have a lot more puck-possession," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "(Zetterberg) is just great at reading the play, and anticipating where the puck is going. He's so good and so strong around the net that it's tough to defend against him."
The Red Wings showed the Ducks that they are capable of playing with some grit.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall stood-up the Ducks’ Chris Kunitz with a huge hit in front of the Wings’ bench during the second.
Red Wings’ newcomer Dallas Drake made his presence known in his return to the team that drafted him in 1989. Drake exchanged punches in the second period with the Ducks’ visor-wearing Perry.
The Red Wings will play their first road game on the season on Saturday against the Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago. Detroit's next home game is Monday against the Edmonton Oilers.