Howard Blanks Ducks as Red Wings Win Opener

Jimmy Howard made 21 saves Friday night, stopping every shot he faced as the Detroit Red Wings opened their season with a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

It was the fourth shutout of Howard’s career.

It was one of several stories of the game. In addition to the shutout, Michigan native Mike Modano scored in his first game with Detroit. If that weren’t enough, Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk picked up a goal, and assist and a fight for a Gordie Howe Hat-Trick.

Modano’s goal came at 5:35 of the first period. Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart worked the puck along the left wing boards and got it to Dan Cleary in the slot. Cleary fought off two defenders to get the puck back to Modano, who rifled a shot past Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller.

The goal came 24 seconds after Johan Franzen had opened the game’s scoring. Franzen and Valtteri Filppula worked the puck on the right side of the ice before Franzen snapped it past Hiller from an acute angle.

Datsyuk scored his goal at 5:29 of the second period. Henrik Zetterberg fired a shot from the top of the right circle intentionally wide of the net and Datsyuk was there to redirect it past Hiller to make it 3-0.

Dan Cleary scored the game’s final goal on a controversial play with 3:05 left in the second. He drove to the net to bang home the rebound of a Datsyuk shot, only for him to crash into the goal, carrying the puck with him.

Video review concluded that the puck cross the goal line before Cleary fully knocked the net off its moorings, overruling the on-ice call of no-goal.

The game got chippy in the third period. With Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf already being called for slashing, he continued roughing Zetterberg. Datsyuk and Corey Perry entered the scrum and ended up pairing off for just Datsyuk’s second career fight.

George Parros tried to fight Dan Cleary several minutes later, then Sheldon Brookbank and Brad Stuart fought in the game’s closing minutes.

The Ducks ended up with 32 penalty minutes in the third for a game total of 46 while the Red Wings had 14 penalty minutes in the final period for a total of 26.

Neither team scored a power play goal in the game, with Detroit getting six tries with the extra attacker – including an extended five-on-three – and Anaheim getting one.

Hiller finished the night with 39 saves on 43 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings now travel to Chicago for the Blackhawks’ home opener on Saturday. Faceoff is expected to be 9:00 after the banner-raising ceremony for Chicago’s 2010 Stanley Cup Championship.

Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson left the game in the second period with back spasms. He did not return and will be replaced in the lineup by Jakub Kindl for Saturday’s game.

Red Wings – Ducks Postgame Notes

Well that was a great way to start the season. The Red Wings looked solid all game. They did make some mistakes but nothing glaring, of course the outcome helps gloss over any negatives.

Fantastic to see Mike Modano scoring in his return home. That was a great play all around, from Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart along the boards to Dan Cleary in the middle to Modano finishing. Cleary took a bit of a beating to make that happen and Modano finished like we all know he can. It’d’ve been the story of the game in a lot of games but this was a bit wild.

Since I go on and on every time I think the Wings are robbed of a goal I’ve gotta bring up Cleary’s replay-aided tally from the second period.

At first, I thought this was a good goal because I thought the rule was that the goal could be knocked off its pegs as long as it didn’t affect the puck. If the puck is going in the middle of the net but the goal is off at the side, the goal being off doesn’t change that the puck is going to the right place.

Turns out, I had the rule wrong, it’s not quite as subjective. The goal can be up but not off its pegs. Personally, I thought the overhead replay FSD kept showing proved that it was off the pegs but maybe there was an angle Toronto got that showed it was still barely on. I can believe it was but it would have to have been very close. As I said during the game, I’m surprised that one counted.

Jimmy Howard opens the season with a shutout. He didn’t have to be spectacular but he was solid when he was needed. The 21 shots he faced weren’t the 43 that Jonas Hiller saw at the other end of the ice but that’s how the Wings play. Howard’s going to need to be able to make the stops when he’s not seeing a lot of action. He stopped them all tonight and you can’t ask for more than that.

On a night when a hometown hero comes back and scores a goal for his local team and a young goalie gets a shutout, you know something big happened when neither of those is the top item of the night.

Gordie Howe Hat-Trick. Pavel Datsyuk. There’s a part of me that doesn’t believe it.

It’s a little funny, my dad was over to watch the game and he hasn’t really paid a lot of attention to the Red Wings in the last couple years. I was explaining how Datsyuk’s gotten more physical and doesn’t back down as much, then this happens. It’s great to see Pavel stand up for himself but at the same time it’s a bit terrifying.

My dad and I were discussing the role of the enforcer because of it. He says that the Wings still need a fighter to keep their stars safe. He used Brad May as an example (proving that he wasn’t completely ignoring last season). It’s the traditional idea, May would “keep the flies off” by being a kind of nuclear deterrent. You attack our stars and you’ll answer to our fighter.

The way I see it, there are two problems with that. The first is that May didn’t get in a single “useful” fight last year, they were all the typical choreographed fights that do absolutely nothing. The second is that Anaheim dresses George Parros on a nightly basis. May wouldn’t have fought Perry tonight, he would have fought Parros, at which point we can just refer to my first point.

Someone needed to take on Perry (and Getzlaf, for that matter). Fighters go after fighters, Perry is an agitator. That means either another agitator would have to fight Perry or Datsyuk would have to stand up for himself. Datsyuk took care of it.

Of course, there’s a third option that I’ve been pushing for for years but I know will never happen. The refs can call the after-the-whistle B.S. so it never gets to that point. There are those who say that’s part of the game, I don’t agree with them, the NHL does agree with them right now.

A fantastic night all around and a great way to kick off the season. There’s 81 more of those to go so we shouldn’t take too much from it but it’s a good start.

Bertuzzi In, Maltby Out for Red Wings Against Ducks

Todd Bertuzzi will be in the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup tonight as they host the Anaheim Ducks, leaving Kirk Maltby on the outside looking in for the first time since 1996.

Bertuzzi, recovering from a sore back, was questionable for tonight’s game. With Justin Abdelkader and Kris Draper also injured, the possibility of Maltby, who was waived earlier this week and assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, stepping into the lineup was very real.

Instead, Maltby will take the weekend to consider his options. Reportedly he is leaning towards retirement rather than accepting assignment to the American Hockey League.