The Red Wings had plenty of jump and generated plenty of scoring chances on Sunday, but their defense just wasn’t quite as strong. With key players Mathieu Schneider and Kirk Maltby now out of the lineup, and Kris Draper and Derian Hatcher already missing, the Wings’ penalty killing suffered accordingly, allowing the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to score 2 power play goals in 6 tries en route to an 8-6 win.
Detroit made a point of starting the game strong. Pavel Datsyuk, Brett Hull, and Steve Yzerman got the Red Wings out to an early 3-0 lead, each putting a wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere before six minutes had passed in the game. Unfortunately, the Wings’ defensive play was not nearly so well-executed as their offensive play.
The Ducks got their first power play of the game when Boyd Devereaux was called for hooking, and Sergei Fedorov set up a good play for Joffrey Lupul to score. Fedorov circled the net and centered a pass across the goal crease, and Lupul was right at the side of the net to whack the puck past Manny Legace.
Steve Rucchin took advantage of Detroit’s inability to clear the puck. Vaclav Prospal shot on net from the left point. Vitaly Vishnevski took a whack at the rebound, and Rucchin pulled the second rebound away before Legace could cover it up, then slipped it around the side of the goalie and into the net.
Jason Williams took a double minor penalty for high sticking as the first period was ending. Detroit thought they caught a break when Niclas Havelid was given a hooking penalty with a minute and a half gone in the penalty to Williams, but the Ducks scored twice during the resulting four-on-four. Sammy Pahlsson’s goal off a partly screened wrist shot tied the game at 2:10, and Fedorov moved Anaheim into the lead by slipping a rebound of Rob Niedermeyer’s shot past Legace’s right skate at 2:36.
Curtis Joseph came in for Legace at that point, but that didn’t give the Red Wings quite the shake-up they were hoping for. Jamie Rivers took a boarding call, giving Anaheim 15 seconds of 5-on-3 play with Williams still in the box. Prospal was able to make a hard pass across the goal crease, and Petr Sykora smacked the puck into the net.
Nicklas Lidstrom converted on a good centering pass from Henrik Zetterberg to get the Wings back within one just two minutes later, and Rivers jumped into the play from the blue line to tie the game with a high shot over Giguere with 3:07 left in the third. Joseph did his part by coming up with a big save against Lupul with only 1:25 left in the period.
Ray Whitney moved Detroit back into the lead early in the third. He got the rebound from Yzerman’s shot. Giguere had slid far to his left while making the first save, but defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh was flopped in the crease trying to cover as much of the net as he could. Whitney whacked at the puck until he finally put it past Ozolinsh.
Vishnevski negated the momentum swing by tying the game back up just 26 seconds later. Detroit made an uncoordinated line change, and Vishnevski was able to drive to the net uncovered to put the rebound of Pahlsson’s shot past Joseph.
Fedorov flipped a deflection by Niedermeyer into the net at 7:01 to give the Ducks the lead for good. Rucchin capped off the scoring with an empty net goal with 14 seconds left.
Detroit outshot the Ducks by a count of 57 to 30. The Red Wings will have tomorrow off to try to regroup before facing the Pacific Division-leading Sharks in San Jose on Tuesday night.
Yzerman’s assist on Whitney’s goal was the 1041st of his career, moving him past Marcel Dionne into 8th on the all time assists list”¦. Schneider is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury. Hatcher wasn’t quite ready to play, so the Wings had to play with only five defensemen”¦. Maltby left the team after Saturday’s game to return to Detroit in preparation for the birth of his first child.