Both sides had good opportunities in the first and it ended up even, but it didn’t start that way. Much like the last meeting between these two teams, Vancouver started fast and the Red Wings couldn’t quite match up. About midway through the period, the Canucks got a five-on-three opportunity but failed to convert. However, the Canucks would score on the ensuing one-man advantage as an Alexander Edler shot from the blue line was lightly redirected by Dan Cleary in front of Jimmy Howard. It looked like the lead would hold through one period, but the Wings tied it up with 20 seconds left in the period as Cory Emmerton deflected a long shot that fooled Cory Schneider. The assist went to Damien Brunner and the score was even at one after one.
Detroit got out to a great start in the second period, managing several great chances and a power play but failing to score on an in-form Schneider. A Canucks power play courtesy of Johan Franzen midway through the period seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to regain the lead, but the Red Wings kill proved up to the task. Another power play came around the 14 minute mark (Danny DeKeyser‘s first NHL penalty) but the Wings killed that one off as well. After two, the score was 1-1.
The third period started slowly for both teams, which stood in contrast to the first two, where one of the two teams started fast. Towards the middle of the frame the Wings began to pick it up, as Pavel Datsyuk hit a post and his teammates forced Schneider to make some nice saves. With six and a half minutes to play in the third, a Jason Garrison slash sent the Wings to a critical power play…which Vancouver killed off despite good pressure from both of the Wings’ units. After the power play outage, the Wings maintained pressure but could not find the back of the net, and the game headed to overtime despite the Wings outshooting the Canucks 17-2 in the third. The Canucks clinched a playoff spot with the point, while the Wings closed to within one point of eighth-place Columbus.
Overtime started like the third period ended; the Canucks playing a laissez-faire style and the Wings doing everything they could to score. Overtime ended like that too, with Detroit failing to pick up a win in the ROW column and forcing a shootout. Ryan Kesler went first for Vancouver and was stopped by Howard glove side. Datsyuk went first for Detroit and tried to flip the puck over Schneider but couldn’t lift it high enough. Derek Roy was next and became a victim of a Howard poke check. Henrik Zetterberg followed, and the captain was stopped easily. Max Lapierre went next, broke in slowly, and beat Howard with a backhand stick side. Damien Brunner was the last hope for the Red Wings and his attempt was easily handled by Schneider. Canucks win 2-1.
Well at least they got a point! The Wings’ season-long woes in close games continued tonight; they fell to 10-6-8 in one goal games. The good news is that the Wings still have a game in hand on idle Columbus and are less than a full game (two points) out thanks to this point. The final week is going to be fun.