Three Questions: Wings-Flames
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 68th game
In a game full of momentum swings, it was Mr. Reliable, captain Nicklas Lidstrom, that played well for the Red Wings. Number five led the Wings in ice time as usual, skating for 28:46. He made those 28-plus minutes count, recording a goal and two assists. His goal was classic Lidstrom; after exchanging passes high in the offensive zone with partner Brian Rafalski, he let a rocket of a one-timer go that beat goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff for his 13th goal of the season. However, one of his assists was his play of the night. Just past the Detroit blue line, Lidstrom feathered a saucer pass across the neutral zone that hit forward Valtteri Filppula in stride. Filppula flew into the Calgary zone and beat Kiprusoff five-hole with a slap shot, but the credit goes to Lidstrom for setting up the play.
What happened early?
It’s a terrible idea to give the game’s best power play plenty of opportunities, and that’s just what the Calgary Flames did Thursday night. After taking an early lead, the Flames started a continuous march to the penalty box. They had eight penalties in the final 12 minutes of the first period, and two more in the early stages of the second. Detroit made them pay, with Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson, and Nicklas Lidstrom scoring three unanswered power-play goals. The flurry of scoring in the first period and early stages of the second boosted the Wings to a 3-1 commanding lead. The Wings went two-for-four on five-on-four chances, and one-for-three on their five-on-three changes throughout the night.
What was the surprising statistic of the night?
In the midst of their penalty troubles, the Flames failed to protect goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff from being peppered with shots. The Wings exhausted one of the NHL’s top netminders, when they fired 27 shots on the Calgary goal. Kiprusoff didn’t get much help from his offense either; the Wings held the Flames to four first-period shots. The Wings continued to dominate in the shots department, with a 39-13 advantage after two, and a 45-33 advantage when the final buzzer rang. It was a bit surprising that coach Mike Keenan kept Kiprusoff in throughout the contest; his star goaltender must have been frustrated and tired.
Even more interesting, however, were the shot totals in the third period. The Wings fell into a defensive system, and it almost backfired. The Flames charged back, and took the lead, while the Red Wings failed to record a shot in the first 19 minutes of the third. Detroit got two shots on goal in the final minute, and Dan Cleary made the second count. With 42 seconds remaining, Cleary banged in a rebound that was sliding along the goal line to tie the game at five apiece, and send the game into overtime.