Three Questions: Wings-Flames
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 19th game
In the course of an NHL season, a team will excel only if they get point production from the entire roster. With Detroit’s depth, that isn’t a problem. The Red Wings’ big guns got some help from the secondary scoring Saturday night, with Kirk Maltby and Brett Lebda finding their way to the score sheet. Maltby tipped in the first goal of the game on a great backhand pass from Andreas Lilja, and Brett Lebda fired home a wrist shot from the top of the slot, beating goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to the far post. With the injuries to Dan Cleary and Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings needed everybody to step up, and won 5-2 over Calgary in an inspired team effort.
What was the turning point?
Eleven minutes into the third period, Henrik Zetterberg won a battle along the Calgary boards, and made an impressive blind-backhand pass to Jiri Hudler. Hudler, who rushed out onto the ice for goaltender Ty Conklin during a delayed penalty, let a laser go from the left face-off dot, and Kiprusoff was left basking in the goal light. The Red Wings regained the lead, 3-2, with the Hudler goal, and they never looked back. It wastes another clutch performance for Hudler, who has been one of the hottest Red Wings of late. He has had three consecutive multi-point games, and has six on the season. To put it in some perspective, Hudler had eight multi-point games all of last year, and he played in 81 games. He finished with six shots and a plus-three rating in only 11 minutes of ice time.
Who finished the night off?
With the Red Wings clinging to a 3-2 lead late in the third, center Pavel Datsyuk decided it was time to put the game out of reach. After fielding a pass from Valtteri Filppula at center ice with his foot, Datsyuk came in on Calgary star defenseman Dion Phaneuf. And Phaneuf was left looking for his equipment as Datsyuk deked him out of his pads with a cutback backhand move under Phaneuf’s stick. Then, with defenseman Mark Giordano breathing down his back, Datsyuk rifled the puck past Kiprusoff from the left face-off dot. With 1:31 remaining, Datsyuk’s strike was enough for the Red Wings to breathe easily in the last seconds of the contest, but Marian Hossa made sure it would end the right way with an empty-net goal of his own.