Monday, May 13, 2013

Wings Came to Play, Played to Win in Game 7 Victory Over Ducks

Everything came down to one final game, one more 60-minute span: You either win or you go home.  There would be no more chances.  Every goal on either side would have enormous weight and significance.  Every mistake would feel fatal.

After all, that's what it is to play a Game 7 in the playoffs.

With no more room for error, the Detroit Red Wings played like they knew what was on the line.  They controlled the pace of the play for almost the entire 60 minutes and did what needed to be done to hold back the Anaheim offensive, pulling off a thrilling win in enemy territory to win their first round series 4 games to 3. Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Valtteri Filppula scored for Detroit and goalie Jimmy Howard was sensational in holding the Ducks to only a pair as the Red Wings won Game 7 by a 3-2 margin.

The scoring started early as Filppula threw a shot at the net just minutes into the 1st, and Zetterberg would swoop in to bang home the rebound to take the early lead.  The lead didn't last though, as the Wings wrapped up a powerplay opportunity, Anaheim surged back after a successful kill and Emerson Etem zinged a shot past Howard to know it up at 1 apiece.

The Ducks would get their own powerplay chance around the 15-minute mark of the 1st, but an excellent read by Abby saw him intercept a pass on the blueline, skating away from the defense for a breakaway, and slipping the puck five-hole on Anaheim netminder Jonas hiller to take back the lead 2-1 on a shorthanded goal.  Abdelkader, who had served a 2-game ban during games 4 and 5, had been playing like a man possessed since returning, and his hunger was evidenced by this play: Great read, explosive skating, and a soft finish all leading up to a fantastic goal!

A few minutes past the halfway point of the 2nd, Detroit would again be rewarded for getting guys to the middle of the ice in the Ducks' zone, as Val Filppula got the puck from teammates Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg, flicking a backhand shot past Hiller to extend the lead to 3-1.

From there, Detroit would maintain control of the game...up until Hank miscued and tossed the puck over the glass in his own zone.  A delay of game call was made, and the Captain would sit.  Anaheim made sure he didn't sit for the full 2 minutes, with Francois Beauchemin beating Howard and cutting the lead to 3-2.

Every Wings fan in the world went a little white, I'm sure.  We had seen this play out before: 2 and 3-goal leads blown in the 3rd and the Ducks forcing Overtime.  It was not the scenario anyone rooting for the Winged Wheel wanted to even imagine.  Thankfully, neither did the Wings, and from there Detroit managed to grind out the rest of the clock and hold on for the series-clinching win.

With a day or two to rest, Detroit now looks ahead to the Chicago Blackhawks, in what will likely be the last time the two teams will ever play a series as division rivals.  Chicago dominated the regular season series, and good on them for it.

This, however, is not the regular season.

Get ready for a crazy 2nd round, Wingnuts!  Let's Go Red Wings!!