Red Wings Even Series with 4-2 Win

The Detroit Red Wings scored twice in the third period Thursday night to pick up a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers and even up their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at two games apiece.

The win means that the series now becomes best-of-three with the Red Wings reclaiming home ice advantage.

Nicklas Lidstrom broke a 2-2 tie with Detroit on a five-on-three 6:44 into the third period.

Mathieu Schneider had the puck at the top of the right circle with Lidstrom on the left side of the ice and the two moved to switch spots. Lidstrom collided with Jarret Stoll on his was across and Stoll went down, essentially giving the Red Wings a five-on-two.

Schneider sent the puck back over to Lidstrom, who pulled it out of his skates and wristed it over Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson for the go-ahead goal.

With 4:07 remaining, Henrik Zetterberg added another power play goal to seal the win.

Pavel Datsyuk carried into the Edmonton zone and managed to get past two Oiler defenders to center the puck to Zetterberg, who skated around Roloson and roofed the puck for the game’s final goal.

The Oilers had opened the scoring on a power play at 7:22 of the first period, when Fernando Pisani put a wrist shot from the right circle between Detroit netminder Manny Legace‘s pads.

Detroit tied the game on a five-on-three with 6:35 remaining in the period, when a shot from the right circle by Schneider was deflected at the edge of the crease by Tomas Holmstrom.

The Red Wings took their first lead of the game on the only even-strength goal of the night with 37 seconds remaining in the first.

Robert Lang‘s shot from the right circle bounced off of both goal posts before coming back out in front of the net. It bounced off of Oiler defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and ended up back in the goal.

Edmonton tied the game in the second period with another power play goal between Legace’s pads, this one scored by Spacek at 4:03 of the period.

Legace ended up with 24 saves on 26 shots while Roloson made 27 saves on 31 shots.

Detroit scored three times on eleven power plays and the Oilers scored twice on nine chances with the man-advantage.

The series continues with Game Five on Saturday afternoon from Detroit. Game Six will be in Edmonton on Monday night at a time to be determined.

Detroit captain Steve Yzerman did not play, still recovering from an injury sustained during Tuesday night’s double-overtime loss in Game Three. He is listed as day-to-day… Backup goaltender Chris Osgood suffered a groin injury during the morning skate on Thursday and Jim Howard was called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to take his place.

Os-good a Time as Any

Red Wings fans are notorious for being quick to blame the team’s goalie when things go wrong. That said, I don’t think that’s the case here.

I’m going to make a statement that, at the start of the season, some might have deemed crazy: It’s time for Detroit coach Mike Babcock to put Manny Legace on the bench and get Chris Osgood between the pipes.

Five of the last six goals allowed by Detroit starting goalie Legace have been “soft.” Legace admitted as much of the first two on Sunday afternoon.

“I have to stop those two (shots),” Legace said. “I didn’t like those two. I have to make those saves.”

On Tuesday night in Edmonton, Legace was beaten three times on goals that he should have been able to stop and only once on a goal that he didn’t really have a chance on.

Jaroslav Spacek’s one-timer to open the scoring would have been stoppable if Legace hadn’t gone down onto his knees too quickly.

Ryan Smyth‘s wraparound goal later in the period would have been stopped if only Legace had gotten his pad sealed to the post. Instead, he left just enough of a gap for the puck to get through despite being in position to make the stop.

The most painful goal to watch, however, was the game-winner in the second overtime.

Legace move to his left to protect that post but reached behind the net, leaving him facing the goal when a wraparound attempt came. He managed to get over to block the shot with his glove but, as he flailed around in the crease, he deflected the puck out to Jarret Stoll. Stoll put it back past Legace before the goalie could get back in position.

These goals are uncharacteristic of Legace and seem to show that something is different about his play between the regular season and the playoffs.

Osgood has famously allowed bad goals in the past but at least he has the stomach for playoff hockey. He plays well positionally, not getting spun around in the crease or coming off the post on wraparound chances.

The Red Wings need to make this change before it’s too late and they need to make the switch on the road. If Detroit falls down by two games in the series, even a goalie switch might not be able to save them. If they make the switch at home, it will only motivate the boo-birds’.

Make the switch for Game Four, on the road, and come home with a tied series and home ice advantage regained.