First Period Recap: It was about as good of a start as the Ducks could have wanted tonight. Immediately from the drop of the faceoff, a massive hit by Andrew Cogliano immediately generated some offense for Anaheim and Jimmy Howard had to be sharp early. However, Howard would turn the game around... by drawing penalties. First, Saku Koivu went a little too aggressively to the front of the net, trying to gain ground on Pavel Datsyuk who held his ground and shoved him into the netminder. The Ducks would kill this penalty rather effortlessly, however Howard would draw another penalty immediately after and this one was much tougher. Corey Perry would drive to the front of the net and with very minimal contact Howard flopped on his back like a flailing fish out of water.
I'm not going to lie it was absolutely disgraceful. The NHL claims they want to crack down on embellishment and diving, well the goalies of this league would be a great start. This isn't the first dive Howard has thrown down this series and it's absolutely disgusting. And it's not just Howard doing it, let me be clear, they're all doing it. But likewise it's an absolute atrocity when something so embarrassing can have such an effect on the game, particularly with how quickly officials are calling goaltender interference these days.
And an effect it had, as the Wings would open the scoring with only their fourth shot of the game as Johan Franzen banked a shot in off Jonas Hiller's skate. The goal snapped a streak of 8 consecutive penalty kills by Anaheim. The Ducks were dominating yet losing. How many times has that happened this season?
Despite how enraged I was at Howard's flopping antics, the Ducks held their composure and kept the pressure on.
The Ducks did draw a 2-man advantage after penalties from Franzen and Corey Emerton, but the Ducks failed to generate any beautiful chances on the power play and the Wings killed both of them off. Immediately after the power play ended Corey Perry found himself wide open immediately on top of the Detroit goal crease, and somehow managed to find Howard's glove and not the back of the net. Someone call the biplane squad because Corey Perry has King Kong on his back at this point.
When Howard wasn't drawing penalties by embellishing, he was sensational. The Ducks poured on the pressure with shot after shot but Howard stood strong on just about everything, with most shots hitting him square in the logo with no rebound.
Key word in that last sentence: "just about." With just over two minutes remaining in the period, David Steckel won a faceoff back to Kyle Palmieri, who flung a shot through a crowd of five different players in the slot. Howard never saw it and it beat him past his right pad. Justice was somewhat served and the game was tied 1-1.
The Ducks would generate one more chance in the period when Andrew Cogliano would speed around the Wings defense and shovel a puck to the net that Howard stood strong on, holding his post.
Despite the Ducks completely owning the period and outshooting the Wings 18-9, the first period ended with the score level.
Second Period Recap: Detroit woke up at intermission and came out flying. Todd Bertuzzi imposed his presence in front of the net and Detroit may as well have had a power play while he was there. Anaheim didn't surrender a goal on a long shift, but they were forced to burn their time out on an early icing call.
The Ducks did once again push back, with the Twins would put together a lovely shift on the cycle. The following shift sprang Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway and though he made a great move, the puck fluttered on him and he shoveled it wide. Yes I don't blame him for the puck fluttering on him, but those are the types of chances you absolutely can't miss; at least make the goalie make a save, and Howard likely wouldn't have as he was practically upside down in his net when the shot got off.
The Wings would take the lead again on a bad rebound from Jonas Hiller. Henrik Zetterberg took a long shot that hit Hiller in the pad and bounce way out into the slot right onto the tape for Mikael Samuelsson who had a wide open net to shoot at. The score moved to 2-1 Detroit, and once again great play and momentum from Anaheim was rewarded by falling behind by a goal. The hockey gods clearly liked to toy with the idea of justice tonight.
And it would continue as Damien Homestar Brunner caught the Ducks on a bad change and had a clear breakaway that Jonas Hiller made a spectacular save to stop, much to the delight of StrongBad. The Ducks failed to clear their zone and the Wings kept the pressure up, with Brenden Smith hitting the goal post on a point shot.
Minutes later Pavel Datsyuk picked off a clearing attempt like a low-hanging apple and Hiller robbed him with the glove too.
The wheels continued to fall off for Anaheim as Dan Winnik took a major penalty for a late hit on Daniel Cleary. And now we wait to see if we lose arguably our most consistent player this series and shots-on-goal leader for a game.
The Ducks responded well though, giving Detroit very little in the way of chances with the major power play. With just over a minute remaining Ryan Getzlaf got a puck away from Brenden Smith and drew a penalty while rushing into the Detroit end. A good penalty, as you would call it since Getzlaf would have been on a breakaway otherwise. The penalty negated the remainder of Detroit's major power play.
It didn't matter though because Getzlaf would get his goal on the Anaheim power play that followed. Once again a pack of people in the slot provided the screen which Captain Snot Rocket would squeak a beauty of a shot through that beat Howard over the blocker. Perhaps it's a bit of injustice again this time as Anaheim managed to tie the game despite playing a horrid period.
Detroit pulled some of that shot total back this period, putting up 15 to Anaheim's 9, but the Duck carried the advantage 27-24 still.
Third Period Recap: The third period may be the most important period of the series thus far and it definitely started as such: very tentative from both teams. However Anaheim appeared to be turtling a little too much defensively, often times giving Detroit a lot of room. As such, Anaheim was chasing a lot early.
Anaheim however did get a great chance early as Emerson Etem's speed found him with the puck in the corner. He shoveled it to the front of the net and Kyle Palmieri slid into Jimmy Howard. The whistle blew and the puck was in the net but the officials immediately waved for no goal. It was ruled that Palmieri initiated the contact with Howard and cause the puck to go in. In other words, Palmieri pushed Howard into the net with the puck. No goal, and after a few replays I do agree that was the right call.
The referees clearly put away their whistles after that as well. Cogliano was high sticked and Palmieri was blatantly tripped to prevent a breakaway, both not called.
With about six and a half minutes in the period only six shots on goal had been registered between the two teams.
With just under four minutes left in the period the Ducks had the best chance of the frame between both teams as the big line imposed their will in the Detroit zone. Bobby Ryan got a great wrist shot on Howard which he kicked away with his toe. Ryan Getzlaf got to the rebound and barely pushed it wide with defenders draped all over him.
Coincidental penalties to Brenden Smith and Matt Beleskey brought the man power down to four on four and oh man did things get scary with multiple great chances to both squads.
With just 9 seconds to go Getzlaf found Perry, who cut into the slot and Jimmy Howard swallowed it up just barely. It could have ended right there, but it didn't and the game was bound for overtime... again.
The tightly-played low-chance period (well... for the first 15 minutes at least) led to 5 shots for Detroit and 6 for Anaheim, bringing the game totals to 33-29 Ducks.
Overtime Recap: Yep... we're doing this again.
The overtime started with a spectacular chance for Bryan Allen. Ryan Getzlaf won a huge battle and found Allen crashing the slot. He missed by about three inches.
That proved to be a warning shot. The very next shift Ben Lovejoy failed to control a fluttering puck for a shot and instead carried it down below the Detroit goal line before dishing it out into the front of the net. Teemu Selanne and two Red Wings fanned on the puck but Nick Bonino did not. Standing unguarded with an open net to shoot at, he made no mistake and ended the contest 1:54 into the extra frame. Somehow Detroit actually outshot the Ducks 2-1 in the OT, but the game total still came out in Anaheim's favor 34-31.
Ducks win a huge contest and an absolute nail-biter 3-2 in OT to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Good: Anaheim found a way to win this game. It was ugly in that second period and it really looked like the entire playoffs might be over but this team fought back like it has done so many times this season. The penalty kill came up huge in nullifying Dan Winnik's major penalty, and the Power Play even came up with a timely game-tying goal. Nick Bonino has apparently become one of the most clutch guys on the Ducks roster, and that's a good thing, particularly with Perry still monkey-wrestling. Jonas Hiller made some spectacular saves to keep the boys in this game and he continues his great play in this series.
The Bad: Anaheim lost their confidence in the second period and was nearly driven out of the game because of it. They surrendered way too many chances, including breakaways and golden chances to guys who you really can't rely on to miss them very often. Likewise Howard is still up to his diving antics and those really need to be put to a stop somehow. It's pretty atrocious.
The Ugly: Anaheim's puck possession was brutal; 15 giveaways and 5 takeaways by Detroit equals a whopping 20 turnovers by the Ducks. You aren't going to win many games with that kind of a statistic. Sheldon Souray was arguably the guiltiest party, lazily giving the puck up to either Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk FIVE times (by my count) tonight. Really poor showing tonight from the grizzled veteran, and I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him benched next game. The Wings are clearly attacking and beating him.
Next Game (Game Six): Friday, May 10th at 8pm at Joe Louis Arena