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Three Questions: Wings-Ducks

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
What was the key to the Game 4 win?

At the start of Game 4, it looked like the Wings’ forward units would stay the same as the previous games.  But after Detroit fell behind early, coach Mike Babcock decided it was time to shake things up.  Before the halfway mark of the first period, he changed up his lines, putting Marian Hossa alongside Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, and pairing up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.  And the moves jumpstarted the Wings’ offense, as they exploded for six goals Thursday night to even the series at two.

The line of Franzen, Hossa and Filppula dominated the game from the moment they were put together.  Franzen starting the scoring spree, recording back-to-back goals to give the Wings a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period.  In his first goal, Franzen took a drop pass from Filppula, and snapped a shot through goaltender Jonas Hiller’s legs, for his fifth goal of the post season.  For his second goal, Franzen beat Hiller with a great redirection from a Niklas Kronwall point shot.  They were two huge goals for the Wings, in a game where they were desperate to not fall two games behind Anaheim.

But the best sign for Wings fans might have been Marian Hossa finding the back of the net – twice.  Hossa finally recorded his first points of the series, and he made them count, scoring back-to-back goals in the second period.   Both were quick snaps of the wrists, burning Hiller with his lightning-quick release.

The trio teamed up for seven points on the night, as Franzen picked up an assist on Hossa’s first tally, and Filppula had two assists.

What else was different in Game 4?

The Wings showed poise and experience in Game 4, most notably by controlling the trips to the penalty box.  The Ducks took six penalties Thursday night, while the Wings only took four.  Even more important, however, were the timing on the penalties.  The Wings didn’t have to kill off their first two penalties, because they got the Ducks to take penalties soon after.  The Wings first time on the penalty kill lasted only 31 seconds, as Henrik Zetterberg forced Francois Beauchemin to take a hooking call.  The Wings second time on the penalty kill lasted only six seconds, because Corey Perry was whistled for tripping.  Not to mention that the Wings’ fourth penalty was Tomas Kopecky’s fighting major, which meant that Beauchemin was in the box too – no power play for the Ducks.  Therefore, the Ducks only had 49 seconds worth of power-play time, which was a huge factor in the Wings’ win.

What happened in the third period?

The Wings held 4-2 lead after two periods, with Hossa’s second goal of the night coming as a devastating blow to the Ducks in the final minute of the second.   The third period didn’t go as smoothly as they would have hoped, however.  Mikael Samuelsson scored on a great snapshot 2:48 into the third, chasing Hiller for the crease.  But J.S. Giguere came in as back-up, and it seemd to fire up the Ducks.  Scott Niedermayer scored for the Ducks roughly eight minutes later, and the Wings were back to a two-goal lead.  It looked like the momentum would continue to swing in Anaheim’s direction after the fight between Kopecky and Beauchemin, but goaltender Chris Osgood closed the door on the comeback.  Osgood made five saves in the third, 25 on the night, to hold off the Ducks, and Zetterberg scored the back-breaking empty-netter with 2:33 remaining.  The Wings got the Game 4 win, tying up the series as they head back to Detroit for Game 5.
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