In a game which is all too often becoming noted for its defensive trapping than its offensive excitement, it’s rare to see a game in which both teams open up (even open up slightly) and try to generate as many scoring chances as they can. Yet, such was the case between the Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night. The fast skating, crisp passing, hard shooting, and excellent netminding, not to mention Steve Yzerman’s 1700th career point, brought the teams to a not entirely satisfying 3-3 tie.
The teams started out cautiously enough, and the first period showed no hint of the way the game would open up later. Phoenix is one of those rare teams which can play the trap or play a multi-player forecheck equally well, and they devoted the first twenty minutes to defense. They held off three Detroit power plays through the first period before an unfortunate turnover by Jason Woolley allowed the Coyotes to open the scoring. Brian Savage stole the puck away and set off on a three-on-one rush. Shane Doan took a drop pass from Savage and shot towards the net. Curtis Joseph made the save, but Savage grabbed the rebound and slipped it in between Joseph’s left skate and the goalpost with only 28 seconds left in the period.
The lead was shortlived, however: Kris Draper put the Red Wings on the board just 30 seconds into the second period. Yzerman made a pass along the blue line to Nicklas Lidstrom. Draper tipped Lidstrom’s shot on its way to the net, and the puck redirected past goalie Brian Boucher.
Chris Chelios moved Detroit into the lead soon after. Boyd Devereaux passed the puck out from behind the net. Chelios stepped in from the blue line to take the pass and make the shot. The puck deflected off a skate and past Boucher.
The two teams really started to open the game up after that, skating end to end and coming up with at least a halfway decent scoring chance every time they would enter their opponents’ zones. The skaters worked hard and pushed through to try to score, but the goalies were solid.
Daymond Langkow tied the game back up midway through the period by redirecting a shot by Cale Hulse up and over Joseph.
Phoenix moved back into the lead with 8:45 left in the third period. Mathieu Dandenault mishandled the puck just enough so that Fredrik Sjostrom was able to steal it away, skate to the net, and backhand a shot over Joseph.
It looked like it would be a tough trick for the Red Wings to tie the game back up when Woolley was given a tripping penalty with just 4:18 remaining, but the Two Kids and the Old Goat came through. Brett Hull centered the puck to Pavel Datsyuk in the low slot. Mike Sillinger fell on the puck so Datsyuk couldn’t shoot it, but he was able to chip it away to Henrik Zetterberg at the side of the crease. Zetterberg’s backhand shot beat Boucher to tie the game with 1:44 remaining.
Joseph was called upon to hold off a furious onslaught of Phoenix shots in the last minute of regulation, and he did so gracefully. The Red Wings’ skaters controlled the overtime play, but Boucher kept himself always square to the shooters, and the buzzer finally sounded to signal the tie.
Detroit outshot Phoenix by a final count of 34 to 30. These two teams will meet again next Saturday night in Phoenix, near the end of the Red Wings’ upcoming road trip. The Wings will start off their trip with a flight to San Jose to face the Pacific Division leading Sharks.
Yzerman is only the 7th player to reach 1700 points. He is two points away from passing Mario Lemieux on the all-time points list…. Draper is just two goals behind Datsyuk for the team lead in goal scoring