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Three Questions: Wings-Blackhawks

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
What was the turning point of the game?

With the Blackhawks up 4-2 going into the third period, the Wings were looking at an uphill climb.  The game was looking out of reach until Niklas Kronwall answered for the Red Wings.  The Detroit defenseman fielded a pass from Valtteri Filppula at the point, and skated to the left side of the blue line.  Kronwall let a wrist shot go, and it managed to navigate through the traffic in front of the Chicago goal to find the back of the net. Only a minute later, Pavel Datsyuk scored, and there was no looking back for the Wings.

Who needs to step up in the absence of Johan Franzen?

During the second period of tonight’s game, Johan Franzen collided with Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel during a line change, and the big forward went to the ice, clutching his knee.  He didn’t return, and Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler shared time filling his spot on the wing with Henrik Zetterberg and Mikael Samuelsson.

If Franzen misses any games, Cleary is going to have to step up for the Red Wings.  Zetterberg’s line is successful partially due to Franzen’s physical presence; he’s able to muck it up in the corners and handle the dirty work in front of the opposing goal.  It won’t be easy to find a replacement for Mule’s knack of finding the back of the net, but if Cleary can bring his grittiness to the line and contribute a bit offensively, they’ll be just fine.

What was the goal of the night?

The line of Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, and Tomas Holmstrom contributed the goal of the game again, just like last night.  Only this time, it was Datsyuk on the finish, and not Hossa.  In the third period, Datsyuk dished the puck down to Hossa, who was at the bottom of the right circle.  Hossa fed it back to Datsyuk in front of the net, with a pass under defenseman Brent Seabrook’s stick.  Datsyuk cut to the left post, but left the puck behind him.  He then proceeded to reach around goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin with only his top hand on the stick, and poked the puck into the gaping net, which also happened to be the tying goal in the Detroit comeback. 

The shootout goals were almost as good, however.  Datsyuk’s fake stickhandling, with his stick moving back and forth above the puck, was definitely unique.  And Hossa’s clinching goal, where he walked in and ripped a slap shot, was the perfect way to finish out the win.

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