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Momentum works against Wings

Canucks' short-hander spells doom for Detroit's comeback try

Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:59 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Momentum works against Wings
Vancouver's Jannik Hansen slides into goalie Jimmy Howard, which allowed Alex Edler to scored the Canucks' controversial insurance goal in the third period Wednesday at Rogers Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, B.C. – It looked like the Red Wings were poised to possibly draw even on the scoreboard early in the third period Wednesday night. But their momentum was zapped in a 15-second flurry that infuriated goalie Jimmy Howard and could get defenseman Niklas Kronwall a league suspension.

“I'm just sick and tired of getting run over. It's every single game,” said Howard of the hit by the Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, which led to the game’s lone third-period goal. “Sometimes you can't help it, your Ds battling in front, things do happen. … I'm just getting sick of it.”

The controversial hit by Hansen resulted in the Canucks’ fourth goal and final goal when Alex Edler capped the scoring in Vancouver’s 4-2 victory with a short-handed tally just moments after the NHL’s reigning Selke Award winner, Ryan Kesler, earned a roughing penalty.

The referees ruled that on Edler’s goal, Wings center Henrik Zetterberg had drawn contact with Hansen, thus forcing the Canucks’ forward into Howard as he cut toward the net from the left wing. As Hansen took out Howard, Edler managed to pick-up a rebound and fire a close-range shot into an open net for a two-goal lead at 3:30.

But after the game, Howard disputed the call on the ice.

“Z never pushed him. I watched the replay,” said Howard, who made 21 saves. “Hansen leans into him, he loses his footing, just steamrolls me. … That's the breaks.”

Zetterberg added: “I think he lost his balance. He comes with a lot of speed, I tried to get the puck, he falls down and hits the goalie.

“I thought for sure (it would be disallowed), you see the stuff that's been called this year, stuff that happens to goaltenders. I was surprised there was no call.”

The Canucks’ short-handed goal scenario was made possibly when Kronwall, known for his lethal hard-hitting reputation, leveled Kesler with a bone-crushing body check that caught the Canucks’ forward completely by surprise. Immediately, Kesler challenged Kronwall, who clearly wasn’t interested in joining the Livonia, Mich., native in fisticuffs. Both linesmen quickly jumped in between the two players, but not before Kesler earned two-minutes for roughing and a small cut under is right eye, courtesy of Kronwall’s shoulder.

Afterwards, Kesler was still steamed, not so much over the hit, but that Kronwall didn’t accept his invitation to fight.

“I saw he was backing up, I put my head down for a second and he hits me, that's obviously his go-to move,” Kesler said. “My only problem with the hit is he doesn't stand up for himself afterwards. If you're going to hit guys like that then drop the gloves.

“I think he has zero career fights. If you're going to continue to hit like that I think you got to answer the bell.”

However, the Wings’ defenseman could get hit by the league’s top disciplinarian, should Brendan Shanahan decide that Kronwall left his feet to deliver the hit on Kesler. Video replay clearly shows Kronwall moving into position along the half wall before turning his back to Kesler and lifting off of his feet just before impact.

“I didn't feel it that way, but if that's the case that's nothing we want in our game and I'm sure I'll get a call from Shanny if that's the case,” Kronwall said. “To me, it felt like a clean hit. You get hit and you take hits. I think that's part of the game.”

The Wings’ early third-period momentum clearly silenced the Rogers Arena crowd as Detroit began its power play. But 15-seconds later, it quickly evaporated when Hansen stole the puck from Jiri Hudler at the blue line and raced through the neutral zone to set-up the game’s final goal.

“We were doing a lot of good things at the end of the second and beginning of the third,” Zetterberg said. “We felt we had a comeback in us, but it was a timely goal for them, they got momentum on their side.”

Late in the game, Kesler, perhaps still angry with Kronwall’s hit, went after Zetterberg by sticking his leg out in what looked like an attempt to injure as the two players passed each other in the neutral zone.

“He comes with his knee. I see him, he sees me,” Zetterberg said. “I think he was a little frustrated by the big hit he got from Kronner and he was just going around and trying to find stuff.”

When asked about the move on Zetterberg, Kesler seemed to indicate that no such action occurred, saying, “I have no idea what you're talking about.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




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