Monday, March 25, 2013

Wings Find Themselves Late, Rally past Coyotes

There was speculation that, after the elation of the 2-game sweep of the Ducks in Anaheim, Detroit may suffer a hangover of sorts as they entered Arena for their  matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes. To an extent, the speculators may have been right, but fans were treated to a welcome sight, as Detroit managed to rally from a temporary meltdown and battle back to claim their third straight win, defeating Phoenix 3-2.

Detroit opened the scoring when Ian White loosed a shot from the point that weaved through traffic and past Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera for the 1-0 lead.  Instead of keep the momentum going, however, Detroit started slipping mentally, with a lot of poor decisions and standing around in the defensive zone.  Before they knew it, the Wings were staring at a 2-1 deficit.

Phoenix's first goal on the powerplay was the result of a good tip and lots of traffic in the way of Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.  The second goal was the infuriating one, as the Monster made two great stops, but there was no urgency by the other Wings on the ice to move the puck away from the crease.  As a result, Rob Klinkhammer waltzed right up to a down-and-out Gustavsson's vacant left side and pounded home the puck.

As the game progressed in the 2nd period, things didn't seem very bright as the Wings' play didn't seem to improve, but a timely powerplay and a goal from Johan Franzen knotted the game back up at 2 apiece late in the period.  Taking that to the locker room seemed to be just what Detroit needed, as they came out a revived hockey club for the final frame.  The Eurotwin powers erupted 6 minutes into the 3rd, as Henrik Zetterberg would find resident magician Pavel Datsyuk with a pass off a Coyotes skate and number 13 made no mistake, burying the puck and giving Detroit the lead once again.

From then on, it was a frantic pace, with the Wings holding on as Phoenix pressed to try and tie the game back up, culminating in a penalty shot awarded to Lauri Korpikoski.  With the lead on the line, the Monster did not falter, shutting the door and preserving Detroit's lead.  Even after Phoenix pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker, the Wings simply buckled down and kept the chances to a minimum right up till the final horn sounded.

The victory tonight was huge for the Red Wings, who have now won three straight, as well as 5 straight on the road.  They will finish up this amazing road trip on Thursday in San Jose before heading home for a pair of games at the Joe.  They have already made more hay in the west coast sunshine than anyone could've hoped for, but a win against the Sharks would be an incredible boost to both Detroit's still-rising confidence and their playoff hopes, as they continue to dig in their heels and prevent themselves from slipping in the standings.

This road trip could very well end up being the defining moment of the regular season for the Detroit Red Wings of 2013, and we'll see how it comes to a close come Thursday.