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Wings weathered early Ducks' blitz

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Jimmy Howard was spectacular in Game 5, stopping 21 shots, including 17 in the first period for the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Without the work that Jimmy Howard did early in Game 5, the Ducks could easily have had themselves a three-goal cushion heading into the first intermission at Honda Center.

“Our goaltender was superb in the first,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Howie really held us in at the start.”

Howard faced 18 shots, and that was just in the first 20-minutes of the game. It was the most shots that the Ducks have had in any single period of this Western Conference quarterfinal series. Yet Howard was remarkable, stopping all but one of the first-period chances that allowed the Red Wings to weather a pretty formidable storm Wednesday night.

“We were doing a good job of eliminating second opportunities and I was just trying to make saves for the guys,” said Howard, who made 31 saves. “I knew they were going to be coming hard to the net tonight, especially in their own building. It was just about being composed out there.”

Howard’s efforts dissipated though when the Ducks Nick Bonino scored at 1:54 of overtime to defeat the Red Wings 3-2, and send the series back to Detroit, where the Red Wings will try to stave off elimination on Friday night.

“I've been through a lot of elimination games,” said Daniel Cleary, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the second period, but returned to finish the game in the third. “The key is just having no regrets, go out and play hard, you can't play nervous. Play loose and confident and play our game.”

Despite ending in a 1-1 tie, the first period belonged to the Ducks, who peppered Howard with several quality shots, including three from close-range by Daniel Winnik, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry. But Howard snagged every one of shots by the Ducks’ trio.

Perry, who rarely misses from the doorstep, took a centering pass from Winnik and fired a point-blank shot toward the upper right corner. But Howard snapped his right catching glove upward and pulled the shot out of the air to preserve the Red Wings’ 1-0 lead with 8 ½ minutes left in the period.

“It’s too bad that we wasted a really good effort by Howie,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It’s amazing how good he is. It doesn’t feel too good not to get one for him tonight.”

Howard was outstanding at controlling his rebounds, protecting the lower corners of the net, and playing aggressively, daring the Ducks to hit the top portion of the net. But a face-off win in the Red Wings’ zone led to the Ducks’ first-period equalizer when Kyle Palmieri fired a low laser from the high slot that beat the Wins’ goalie to the stick side at 17:41.

Moments later, Andrew Cogliano sought to give the Ducks the lead, streaking down the right wing, but Howard hugged the post to squelch a great scoring chance by the former University of Michigan star.

“They threw a lot of pucks at us and they had a lot of great chances,” Kronwall said. “We let them have the chances way too easy. Howie came up huge for us, kept in the game, gave us a chance and that’s all we can ask for. We have to find a way to get the job done defensively.”

The teams exchanged second-period goals by Mikael Samulesson and Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. The third period was scoreless as the Red Wings and Ducks fired five and six shots on net, respectively, sending the game to overtime for the third time in this series.

BIG BERT: Todd Bertuzzi made such noise during his first shift of the second period that once the Ducks iced the puck their coach Bruce Boudreau was forced to use his timeout with 15:43 left in the middle frame.

The Ducks timeout was necessary after the Wings’ fourth line, led by Bertuzzi’s bullishness on the puck, keep pressure in the Anaheim zone. Working hard below the icing line, Bertuzzi bumped Ben Lovejoy off the puck during the sequence that led to a great scoring chance. Detroit’s big forward corralled the loose puck and swept it into the low slot where a waiting Patrick Eaves wired a one-timer that was stopped by Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.

“Bert is a big body for us when he gets in on the forecheck. He’s a force out there,” Howard said. “It’s great to have him and Sammy back in the lineup.”

LONG TIME COMING: Two years. That’s how long it had been since Mikael Samuelsson scored a playoff goal. Playing in his third game of the series, and just his seventh of the year, Samuelsson was rewarded for his hustle play that gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 10:08 of the second period.

“You go to the net and that’s something that we work on a little bit in practices down through the years,” he said. “It was right on my tape so I beared down and buried it.”

As Henrik Zetterberg blazed in on the left wing, Samuelsson was chugging down the right side. The Wings’ captain ripped a blast from the circle. Hiller made the initial save, but kicked it out with his right leg, putting the puck right on Samuelsson’s stick.

“Hank got it on the wing,” he said. “We really didn’t have anything but a two against two. Smart shot by him and it came right out to me.”

It was Samuelsson’s first playoff goal since his Game 2 winner at Chicago in a Western Conference quarterfinal on April 17, 2011.

THREE STARS: 3, Jonas Hiller, ANA (29 saves, W); 2, Kyle Palmieri, ANA (1 goal); 1, Nick Bonino, ANA (GWG).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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