Three Questions: Wings-Oilers
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 52nd game
When the Oilers gave the Red Wings an early opportunity to take the lead, they jumped on it, and never looked back. Goalie Dwayne Roloson slashed Dan Cleary between the legs 42-seconds into the game, and the Wings got revenge on the power play. Brian Rafalski took a pass, walked in to the top of the circle, and rifled a slapshot past Roloson. Marian Hossa made the goal happen, however. The Wings’ leading goal-scorer took a pass from Jiri Hudler, and instead of catching the puck with his stick, allowed the Edmonton defenseman to attack him and redirected the puck with his skate blade right onto Rafalski’s stick.
The Wings capitalized on their next power play opportunity as well, when Hossa scored his 29th of the season after tipping in a slapshot from Niklas Kronwall. There were two goals in between, but it was the best power play in the NHL that cracked this game wide-open. The Red Wings dominated the first period, out-shooting the Oilers, 16-5, and winning the scoring-chances battle 9-1. But it was because they capitalized on both power plays that the Wings really put the game away early.
What was the trick to cracking the Edmonton goaltending?
The Red Wings did a great job of redirecting pucks at Roloson, making it difficult for him to locate and stop the Wings’ shots. On the Wings’ second goal, Brett Lebda scored by redirecting a pass from Kris Draper right on top of the Edmonton crease. On their third goal, Cleary redirected a fake slapshot from Kronwall while waiting next to the left post. Their forth was the tip from Hossa, and then the fifth was a Pavel Datsyuk redirection from a Henrik Zetterberg pass.
The best tip, however, was the last goal of the game, and the goal scorer was Ville Leino. Putting the exclamation mark on a big 8-3 win, Leino got his stick on a long shot from Kirk Maltby, completely changing the direction of the puck to beat back-up goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who replaced Roloson late in the first period.
Who was the star of the game?
I’m going with Kronwall. ‘Nik Jr.’ was all over the ice, picking up three primary assists in the 8-3 win. He skated for 16:40, playing 2:52 on the power play and 1:39 shorthanded. Most importantly, he finished at plus-2, helping pace the Wings in the big victory.