In what should’ve been an easy 2 points for the Wings turned out to be a grueling battle for a point in a 4-4 tie versus the Canes at the Joe. Cujo got the start versus Weekes. The Wings and I were out of tune at the start of the game. I thought it was a 7:30 EST start and turned on the game to only see 2-0 Canes with 5 minutes left in the third. And the Wings had defensive lapses to allow those goals, really leaving Cujo out to dry (I saw the replays).
In the first period, I was eating pizza and watching college basketball when I realized it was a 7:00 start. The Wings didn’t show up in the first half-hour either, giving the Canes open ice in the defensive zone and leaving Cujo out to dry. At 2:37, Pavel Brendl scored unassisted to make it 1-0 Canes. At 11:40, Radim Vrbata got a powerplay goal to make it 2-0 Canes. Here’s when I started watching. At 16:35, Rod Brind’Amour came in open on Cujo, totally undressed him, and put the puck in the open net as he left Cujo sprawled on his back on the top of the crease. 3-0 Canes. And the Joe crowd was in total shock, for a Wings team that has been very solid at home this season. With a minute left, Pavel Datsyuk pulled past Eric Staal through center ice and was hooked a good 2-3 strides ahead with speed. Pavel stumbled, and Don Van Massenhoven called Staal 2 minutes for hooking rather than following the rules of the game and common sense of creating excitement. Total bull crap. Shots in the first were 12-8 Detroit.
In the second period, Cujo was replaced by Manny Legace after allowing 3 goals on 8 shots. Henrik Zetterberg got a powerplay goal assisted by Ray Whitney and Pavel Datsyuk. The score came on a tip in off a shot from the point by Whitney. 3-1 Canes. But the Canes scored 24 seconds later on a goal by Sean Hill, a bad angle, low quality shot that really stung for the Wings and Manny, after just pulling within two. 4-1 Canes, back to another 3-goal deficit. Shots in the second were 13-6 Detroit.
In the third period, the Wings and Joe crowd started to get back in the game, with Tomas Holmstrom scoring at 9:51 on a rebound from the bottom left circle, assisted by Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan. 4-2 Wings. Then Henrik Zetterberg scored a powerplay goal at 14:26, assisted by Brett Hull and Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik batted the puck out of midair to the left of Weekes. 4-3 Wings. Then Tomas Holmstrom completed the comeback with a pass from Brendan Shanahan to the open side with Weekes awkwardly out of position. Tomas fed it into the open net. The second assist came from Henrik Zetterberg to give him a 3 point night. At 18:31, the whistle was blown as the Wings carried the puck behind Manny to try to get a rush going. Two penalties were called: both teams were penalized for too many men on the ice at the same time!! Even Mickey Redmond said he hadn’t seen anything like that in 37 years. Shots were 17-2 in the third in Detroit’s favor.
Apparently Don Van Massenhoven has a knack for weird calls. Canes Coach Peter Laviolette was playing in the minor leagues for some obscure team, and Massenhoven was calling the game. On a play, Laviolette hooked a man on a break and Massenhoven called a delayed penalty shot as the puck drifted towards the net. Then Laviolette covered the puck with his glove in his goaltender’s crease, so Massenhoven called another penalty shot on Laviolette. So the opposition got two penalty shots, and Laviolette got the distinction of being one of the few (maybe only) guys to get called for two penalty shots on the same play. If you can’t tell, this was a Mickey Redmond story.
In overtime, the Wings got close to winning the game as the Canes played on their heels. Each team got 2 shots, and the Wings got a powerplay with about 30 seconds left in the game, when Jeff O’Neill was called for hooking Nicklas Lidstrom. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, with the Joe rocking and the Wings pretty happy to get the point after being down by 3 goals twice. The third period comeback was 3 Wings goals in 6:48.
Detroit went 2 of 7 on the powerplay, while Carolina went 1 of 4. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Shanahan really had strong games for the Wings. Ex-Wing Aaron Ward was a scratch with a wrist injury, but it was nice to see him in the post game interviews. Final shots were 44-18 in Detroit’s favor. Darren McCarty returned from his back injury for 7:31 of ice time, while Steve Thomas, reportedly out for two weeks with a cracked rib, sat out the game.
It was truly one of those games where very little goes your way, including the Datsyuk penalty shot that never was, and peppering Weekes with 44 shots, hard-pressed to score. In contrast, it was a tough night for Wings’ goaltenders Cujo and Legace, who collectively allowed 4 goals on 18 shots, but the Wings poor defense early on didn’t help the cause. Next game is Tuesday at Nashville, an 8:00 EST start, so fans like me who have 7:30 chiselled into their minds as Wings game time will be a little early for this one. Hopefully the Wings improve their away record and bring a more solid effort versus the Predators, because they took the Canes for losers early on and fell back 3-0 because of it.