By Christy Hammond
Despite the Detroit Red Wings (17-4-4) getting a three-goal lead with less than 14 minutes remaining in the third period, the Vancouver Canucks (14-10-2) managed to claw their way back into the game and fortunately the Wings were able to outlast Vancouver in the remaining minutes of action.
Forward Taylor Pyatt scored the first goal of the game on Vancouver’s first shot just 1:35 into the first period. Unfortunately, the Wings’ opponent has scored on their first shot in the last three games. Shane O’Brien brought the puck inside the blue line before dishing it to Pyatt, who fired a shot from the near side of the face-off circle beating Chris Osgood above the glove.
Less than four minutes later, Valtteri Filppula stripped the puck from Kyle Wellwood and then quickly passed it to Tomas Kopecky. He then feeds the puck to Jiri Hudler, who takes a snapshot from near the inside hash marks tying the game up at one apiece. During the first intermission, it was quite accurately described as a “tic-tac-toe” play on the FS Detroit broadcast.
Just over ten minutes into the game, defenseman Andreas Lilja launched a perfect pass to a streaking Jiri Hudler, who skated past two Vancouver players and beat Curtis Sanford top shelf. While Lilja’s pass was certainly a feat in and of itself, Hudler’s goal was truly impressive when you consider the two Canucks’ defensemen tugging at Hudler, who actually drew a penalty on the effort.
Vancouver converted on their final power play opportunity just 1:32 into the second period (yes, Detroit did not get called for a single penalty for nearly 40 minutes of play). With Pavel Datsyuk in the box, Daniel Sedin passed the puck from the right of Osgood at the red line to a waiting Wellwood at the bottom of the left face-off circle. The Canucks went on to score another goal 4:13 into the second frame after the puck bounced perfectly off the back boards to Mason Raymond, who took a quick snapshot. Dan Cleary tipped in a classic Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the left point to even up the game at three.
The goal of the night came courtesy of defenseman turned forward Derek Meech as he scored a beautiful wraparound goal that sent Sanford to the bench. Meech typically plays defense, but was recently pulled up to forward with Darren McCarty out with a groin injury. It marked Meech’s first NHL career goal, which certainly made his night as you can see in The Detroit News photograph taken by David Guralnick after the game.
The goal gave Detroit a lead that they would not give up as the Wings quickly scored two more goals courtesy of Nicklas Lidstrom and Cleary. Not even a minute had passed since Meech’s goal before Lidstrom scored an unusual goal (for him) as he brought the puck down near the bottom of the left face-off circle before getting off the shot. Soon thereafter, Cleary put in a rebound from a Lidstrom shot to give Detroit a 6-3 lead 6:08 into the final frame of action.
Thanks to goals by Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows, the Canucks clawed their way back into the game but the Wings were able to hang on to a 6-5 lead. Lidstrom had quite the night with two assists and a goal in 23:37 minutes of ice time. His third period goal snapped an 18-game scoring drought for the captain. Many other Wings had multi-point games including Hudler (2G), Cleary (2G), Filppula (2A), and Brian Rafalski (2A).
Detroit’s next game is this Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, which should shape up to be an exciting game at home. The last outing between these two teams resulted in a shootout win by Detroit on a Marian Hossa slapshot. Plus, this game will help us get ready for the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day!