It’s really summed up in one word – experience. The Wings watched a big first period lead wash away at the hands of the Blue Jackets, and a tie for 19 minutes of the third had Nationwide Arena rocking. It was playoff hockey at its best; loud fans, big hits, and timely goals. The Wings prevailed because they were able to keep their heads. The Jackets, on the other hand, got caught with too many men on the ice with 1:34 remaining in regulation. And the experienced Red Wings made them pay. While the Jackets were fighting with the referees over the call (I spotted seven Blue Jacket players on the ice during the replay), the Wings went to work on their power play, and Johan Franzen
found the back of the net. Scoring yet another clutch goal for Detroit, Franzen slammed in a rebound from Jiri Hudler
, and the Wings held on for the final 46-seconds for the series win.
Who was the Wings’ player of the night?
Marian Hossa came to Detroit because he said he wanted to win a Stanley Cup. On Thursday, he came up big, scoring a pair of goals in the second. They were the first two goals for Hossa this postseason, and it was a great sign for the Wings to see him find his scoring touch. Hossa played outstanding from the opening faceoff, possessing the puck as if he had it glued to his stick. He didn’t shy away from the rough stuff either, throwing his body around, and willing to take a hit while fighting for the puck along the boards. He logged 16:15 worth of ice time, and recorded seven shots and two hits. After an injury forced him to miss the last few games of the regular-season, Hossa appears to be back on track and ready for Round 2.
Well the Wings might have a bit of time off before they start in the Western Conference semifinals. Vancouver has advanced by sweeping the St. Louis Blues, but nobody knows who else is in yet. The Wings will await the winners of the San Jose/Anaheim and Calgary/Chicago series before they know who they face next. Anaheim currently leads 2-1 (they play tonight), and Calgary and Chicago are tied after four games.