Three Questions: Wings-Ducks
DRW.com analyzes Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals
It’s every hockey player’s dream to score the game-winning goal in Game 7 during the Stanley Cup playoffs. And Red Wings forward Dan Cleary can add that moment to his list of achievements. Cleary scored his third goal of the playoffs with exactly three minutes to go in the third period, the goal that gave the Wings the lead and the eventual series win. Parked out in front of the Anaheim crease, Cleary watched as teammate Henrik Zetterberg flung the puck from the corner towards the goal. The puck was high as it approached the goal, and it tricked netminder Jonas Hiller. That gave Cleary the opportunity to start swinging away until he got the puck through Hiller and into the back of the net.
The goal sent the Joe Louis Arena crowd into a frenzy, and they never stopped yelling and screaming. The Wings held onto the lead as the Ducks fired everything they had. Detroit’s defense lined up at the blue line bordering their own zone, and didn’t let anything past, frustrating the Ducks until the final whistle blew. The Wings live to see another day because of Cleary’s goal, and the Ducks go home for the summer.
What did the Wings do right?
The Wings will probably say they took too many penalties Thursday night, but they will also be happy with the performance of their penalty-killers. The Wings started the game in penalty trouble, staring down a minute-plus five-on-three about five minutes into the first period. However, they didn’t falter, killing off the penalties with the help of goaltender Chris Osgood. Ozzie started off the penalty kill right, by making the save of the game before it even started. With the Wings on the delayed call, Osgood faced defenseman James Wisniewski all alone, and he stacked the pads to rob a sure goal from the Canton, Mich. native.
It was one of 24 saves for Osgood, and the Wings’ goalie helped the team hold the Ducks to one power-play goal on five chances. The Ducks had time on the five-on-four, five-on-three, and four-on-three, and the Wings held their ground. To help out, the Wings’ offense fired 40 shots at Hiller, which would be exhausting for any netminder.
Who was the player of the game?
Assistant captain Henrik Zetterberg turned in a great Game 7 performance for the Wings Thursday night. He factored in on the Wings’ first goal, picking up the second assist on Hudler’s fourth goal of the postseason. He set up Cleary’s game-winner by dragging the puck into the corner then finding a way to get it out front. But possibly most important was his play defensively. Zetterberg blocked three shots (that the scoresheet reporting, anyway), and two of them came back-to-back. With the Wings on a late penalty kill, Zetterberg took two shots right to the body, then still had the poise and strength to grab the puck and carry it all the way down to the Ducks’ zone. It was a great defensive play by one of the top two-way players in the NHL, and it defines the way Zetterberg helps his squad. The Wings’ forward skated for 23:42, second on the Detroit roster to only captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s 27:44. He spent 2:28 of that on the penalty kill, and 3:32 of his time on the power play, showing his versatility. Zetterberg also won ten face-offs, and he helped tie up Teemu Selanne at the final face-off with 6.4 seconds remaining in the Detroit end.