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Filppula adds slap shot to repertoire

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Valtteri Filppula is congratulated by his Red Wings' teammates after his first-period slap shot goal 1-1 the score against the Phoenix Coyotes. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – It’s not every day that Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula winds-up to take a slap shot. But when he does, good things usually happen, as it did in the waning seconds of the first period in Thursday night’s 3-2 shoot-out win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

“I feel like a lot of times you don’t have the time to shoot a slapper,” Filppula said. “Mostly you have to shoot quick, at least for me I feel that I need too much time to get it off, and this time I had quite a bit of time there.”

Filppula’s 15th goal of the season pulled the Wings into a 1-1 tie with 51-seconds left in the opening period. His blast from the top of the slot caromed off a defender’s stick before making the distinctive ping of the puck crashing into the crossbar, then dropping into the back of the net behind Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.

Despite out-playing the Coyotes for much of the first period, it looked like Phoenix would take its 1-0 lead into the first intermission. But with 59.1 seconds left in the period, and a faceoff deep in the Coyotes’ zone, the Wings’ aggressiveness paid off.

Coyotes center Boyd Gordon beat Henrik Zetterberg on the draw, and All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle eventually worked the puck around the back of the net and out to the right point. But Ian White kept the puck in the zone, poking it away from Ray Whitney along the half wall near the blue line. From there Filppula lifted Gordon’s stick, spun to his left and cruised to the top of the slot before uncorking a lightning quick – albeit rare – slap shot.

“We talked about it after the first. I asked him and he was pretty sure that that was his first one,” Zetterberg said. “I think that was his first slap shot goal in his NHL career.

“I’m being serious. It was a great shot. … He just doesn’t shoot that often. I think it’s the way he plays hockey; he’d rather pass to another guy than shoot himself. But still he has 15, 16 goals, so he’s doing something right.”

Filppula, who got help when his shot caromed off the blade of Derek Morris’ stick before beating Smith over the left shoulder, was iffy about the number of goals that he’s scored on slap shots.

“I don’t know exactly, but I know there haven’t been too many of those,” said Filppula, who led the Wings’ forwards with 21:52 of ice-time. “I need too much time to shoot a slapper, so normally I tend to shot a wrist shot or something. I doubt that it’s my first, but I think you can count my slap shot goals on one hand.”

Thursday’s game was just the third one-goal game at JLA this season. It was also just the second time that the Wings have gone to a shoot-out. They defeated the Boston Bruins on Nov. 25.

Plus there was plenty at stake for the Wings, who had a 12-game home winning streak on the line, while coach Mike Babcock and goalie Jimmy Howard were seeking career wins No. 400 and 100, respectively.

“This was a really big win,” Filppula said. “We’ve been playing well at home, but this wasn’t our best game, but I think it was still good. Obviously the win is the most important, especially when we played a game like we did against the Islanders – that we didn’t want to play – so it as great to come back and get a win like we did tonight.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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