Considering the Detroit Red Wings had won both of the previous two games that had gone to overtime, you would be excused for thinking they had the Anaheim Ducks right where they wanted them on Wednesday night when the teams left the ice at the end of regulation tied 2-2.
This time though, things didn’t sick to the script. Less than two minutes into the extra period, Ducks center Nick Bonino found the back of the net, giving Anaheim a 3-2 edge in this Western Conference first round series and sending some undoubtedly nervous fans at the Honda Center home happy.
The Ducks needed to rally twice from a goal down to put themselves in position for some late night drama. Johan Franzen opened the scoring in the first period, putting the Red Wings up 1-0 a the 5:28 mark with a shot that deflected past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. Kyle Palmieri evened things up for the hosts before the first break, spinning and firing a shot by a screened Jimmy Howard.
Hiller and Howard took turns stealing the show in the first half of the second period, matching each other save for save. Much maligned Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson finally broke the deadlock, converting a rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg shot to make it 2-1 Detroit with 9:52 left in the second.
The Red Wings had a glorious chance to extend the lead when Daniel Winnik had his “Justin Abdelkader moment,” receiving a five-minute major for boarding Dan Cleary (who did return to the game). But the Ducks killed off 4:11 with hardly any real chances on goal before drawing a holding call on Brendan Smith. Ryan Getzlaf scored on the ensuing power play, knotting the game a 2-2.
Both teams had their chances to end things in regulation. Anaheim had a puck cross the Detroit goal line early in the third only to see it waived off when it was ruled someone pushed Howard into the net. The Red Wings’ young combo of Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson created a late chance off of a 3-on-2, but Howard still had to stone Corey Perry – something that hasn’t been a problem in this series – one last time to send the game to OT.
Detroit had an early sniff of the Anaheim end, but it was over not long after that. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy was able to work he puck out of the corner to Howard’s left, and his pass made it all the way across the crease to Bonino, who beat Andersson to the spot and had a relatively easy shot to score the game-winner.
Hiller turned away 29 of 31 Detroit shots to get the win, while Howard was once again probably the Red Wings’ best player, making 31 saves of his own. Anaheim also had a huge edge in physical play, outhitting Detroit 32-19.
With a big opportunity to seize control of the series now gone, the Red Wings will turn their focus to holding serve at home on Friday night. Game time is 8 pm at Joe Louis Arena.
The game was over when…
The Red Wings failed to score on the Winnik major. Actually, that’s putting it too lightly. They turned in one of the worst five-minute man advantages in recent memory, getting few shots on goal and showing very little urgency. The Ducks’ penalty killers deserve a lot of credit too, but the only thing worse would have been giving up a shorthanded goal against – and really, Getzlaf’s goal on a power play created during the major was practically the same thing.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
This might not be a popular pick since fans want him to score more, but Valtteri Filppula did his part to keep the team within striking distance. He logged the most ice time of any forward, was the only Red Wing above 50 percent in the faceoff circle, and he even got credited with two hits. Yes, they need production out of him, but it’s not like he’s not trying.