Final Score: Ducks 1, Red Wings 0
Pre-game side note: Check out this video compilation and article posted by NHL.com today.
Prior to the game it was announced that Jonas Hiller would get the back-to-back start, delaying the NHL debut of Mr. America John Gibson. The Ducks would also be without captain Ryan Getzlaf who sat with a lower-body injury sustained in the win against Phoenix. The injury is not expected to be long-term as he is listed as day-to-day.
First Period Recap: With Getzlaf scratched, Bruce Boudreau went with Nick Bonino to center the top line. Almost every important player for Detroit was also out with some type of injury so sitting Getzlaf for precautionary reasons didn't seem like such a bad idea considering the five-point league lead in points.
The Ducks started the game with a line of Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu and Jakob Silfverberg. In a not so surprising moment, the Ducks took the first penalty just 40 seconds in. Koivu went of for high-sticking Henrik Zetterberg. The Detroit power play had a ton of movement, but Mark Fistric and Francois Beauchemin did a great job of clearing the crease and slot area for Hiller. The penalty was killed with the help of Bonino and Silfverberg.
Kyle Palmieri was on his game early getting a quick deflection on goaltender Petr Mrazek. As has been the case against Detroit since the beginning of time, the refs ignored a blatant interference call as Daniel Winnik was held up without the puck on the boards. This was noted by Bryan Hayward on a couple different occasions during the period.
If you wanted to know what line combinations were used in this game, don't bother. Every line that went out seemed different. Starting the game on the penalty kill didn't help with this either. Hiller had to be strong early with Detroit pressuring the defense. He made an amazing in close that resulted in a rush down ice. Palmieri with Dustin Penner and Winnik got the best chance of the period on the rush.
Later, Cogliano was racing a Red Wing for icing that looked like it would be called off. Unfortunately hybrid icing called off the play and Cogs seemed particularly angry. The icing resulted in a some Red Wings getting chances from far but nothing too difficult for Hiller to stop. Detroit had its best chance of the period when Danny DeKeyser got in close on Hiller but couldn't tap it in as the puck rolled wide.
Palmeri, Penner and Winnik was definitely the most effective line in the period. With the momentum finally going the Ducks' way, Koivu was called for a trip. Upon seeing the replay it was obvious that Koivu had not even touched DeKeyser. This call drew some angry "ref you suck" chants from the fans in Honda Center. [Ed. Note: Man, this game was full of surprises, wasn't it? -CK]
Luckily for the Ducks, Hiller is a boss and saved them from a 1-0 deficit. (HILLER FOR VEZINA) The Ducks killed the penalty and continued to work hard along the boards to get possession. On a partial break, the Ducks finally got a call for Penner's effort on a rush. The hooking call late in the period allowed the Ducks to go on the power play. Not much could happen with the play, however, as the Red Wings kept clearing the puck. The period ended with 24 seconds remaining on the power play.
Second Period Recap: What little time was left on the power play was useless. Then Koivu got his third penalty of the night for a hold on Zetterberg. To the penalty kill yet again (sigh). Bonino was basically playing the whole game since he played top line minutes, power play minutes and penalty kill minutes.
The penalty kill was strong again, and Cogs got a chance with Silfverberg on the kill. Corey Perry stole the puck and skated around to kill time with the crowd going wild. Another shorthanded chance came from Matt Beleskey. His shot was screened by a defender but went right into the glove of Mrazek. The third penalty was killed and an icing call against the Red Wings resulted on the play.
The Ducks lost the face-off and couldn't take advantage of the tired Red Wing forwards. Detroit turned the face-off win into a chance with Hampus Lindholm being dragged down to the ice. The first half of the period saw basically no possession for the Ducks. Turnovers in their own zone ruined and chance at playing in the offensive zone.
The refs made up for their early icing failure in the first period with a terrible icing call that went the Ducks' way. The refereeing seemed to be the focus of the last half of the period. So much holding and interference was going on in front of the Detroit net that Patrick Maroon had a talk with the refs. Teemu Selanne and Maroon couldn't make a play on a puck in front of Mrazek on the first real good chance of the period.
The Ducks finally got a call because Niklas Kronwall took down Perry in the offensive zone. Yet again, Palmieri was getting close to untying the game. The team clearly missed Getzlaf on the power play. The power play failed and Hiller was forced to make a good save on a rush from Drew Miller and Kronwall out of the box.
On the ensuing rush, Koivu and Cogliano sped into the zone and came so close but couldn't get it past Mrazek. The play drew an offensive zone face-off that the Ducks lost. Koivu, however blocked a clearing attempt and Palmieri picked up the puck. The puck was passed to Koivu who slid a pass over to Cogliano for the opening goal of the game.
With all the momentum on the Duck's side, Maroon took a (weak) roughing penalty. The penalty kill was so good. So good that Hiller didn't even see a shot on goal. Beauchemin was getting key blocks and the puck never made it below the dots.
The terrible refereeing continued after the kill. Mrazek came out of his net to play an iced puck, but the ref blew the play down for an icing call. The puck was forced to be dropped at center ice to make up for what shouldn't have been a whistle at all. A clear trip on Fowler resulted in chance for Detroit late in the period, but the unacceptable reefing didn't cost the Ducks as they took the lead into the locker room. (1-0)
Third Period Recap: In the opening play of the period the Ducks had possession in the offensive zone. Perry was high-sticked in the face and the close referee didn't have a call. It took at least 20 seconds before the back referee finally made the call. Honda Center screamed in rage and at this point I was done with the refs. Perry was bleeding and no double minor penalty was given. Bryan Hayward was at a loss for words with regard to the lack of a double minor.
On the ensuing power play Perry hit two posts. Sustained pressure continued throughout, but the Ducks again failed on the power play. The net was also conveniently knocked off as the penalty expired. Great power play chances for everyone involved, but Perry's lip was clearly torn open and still bleeding.
After failing on the power play the Ducks continued to stay all over the Red Wings. At this point the team was in full on rage mode. In between whistles late the momentum shifted toward Detroit. The Red Wings were desperately trying to tie the game, but Hiller said NO. Hiller made a huge save on Riley Sheahan [Ed. Note: of "Super drunk'' Teletubby fame - CK] point blank keeping the Ducks ahead.
This wouldn't be a Honda Center game without bad bounces off the end boards. Two of these bounces kept the puck in the Ducks' end and forced them to play defense with a tired bunch of players. When the puck was finally sent down Silfverberg had a break and tried to go five-hole but Mrazek was way out to block the shot. On a similar type of play Perry got in one-on-one and had his stick slashed in two, forcing the refs to make the call.
No goal, but lots of chances came again on the power play. With under five to go in the period Justin Abdelkader hit the far post and the rebound hit Hiller and slid into the corner. Zetterberg seemed to be on the ice the entire time creating chances and holding the puck in the zone. The Red wings would then go to the power play with 3:40 left when Selanne was taken off for a trip (DeKeyser lost an edge and Selanne happened to be skating by him).
In this stressful time the Ducks called up on Bonino to win the draws. Bonino did just that and allowed Fistric to clear the puck. The Red Wings struggled to get the puck past the Ducks' blue line with the defense standing strong. Cogliano and Koivu nearly killed off the rest of the penalty playing keep away in the Detroit end. The penalty ended with no shots on goal yet again. With 1:15 left in the game Mike Babcock pulled Mrazek. The Red Wings held the puck in but never got a clean look at Hiller. Time expired and Hiller got the shutout win. (SHUTOUT SHUTOUT SHUTOUT)
The Good: The defense, Hiller and the "checking line." This was a win that would not have been possible if not for the great defense from the whole team. Fistric and Beauchemin made key blocks on the penalty kill. Lindholm and Sami Vatanen were solid while moving the puck up the ice. Fowler and Lovejoy shutdown Zetterberg and made safe plays in their own zone. Silfverberg and Winnik have become a penalty killing duo that works well together. Hiller won his 14th straight game in a shutout win. (*cough* Hiller for Vezina *cough*) The "checking line" of Koivu Cogliano and Palmieri shutdown Zetterberg and scored the only goal of the game. Palmieri looked particularly dangerous the entire night.
The Bad: Obviously the refereeing was bad. The calls both ways were terrible all night. The high stick that Perry took was the worst part of the game. That double minor penalty hast to be called there.
The Ugly: The power play really missed Getzlaf and failed to score. The power play had lots of opportunities but just couldn't get it done. Luckily, the Ducks didn't need the power play to win the game tonight.
The MVDs for this game are actually the same as the official players of the game.
3rd MVD: Kyle Palmieri – Palmieri was all over the ice tonight. He had the most shots on goal in the opening period and contributed a secondary assist to the only goal of the game. Paired with Koivu and Cogliano, Palmieri had one of his best games despite not actually scoring a goal.
2nd MVD: Andrew Cogliano – Cogliano worked overtime on the penalty kill with Koivu and Winnik. He scored the game-winning goal in the second period. Cogliano was one of the reasons why the team escaped the final penalty kill of the game as he stole the puck in the offensive end and played keep away with Koivu. Cogliano's speed still surprises teams and it forced Detroit to be extremely cautious while leaving their zone.
1st MVD: Jonas Hiller – Hiller earned his 19th career shutout and 14th straight victory. In the first period, he had to make some really great saves when the Red Wings were pressing early. Hiller worked with the defense and helped retrieve pucks that were dumped in the zone all night long. Without his huge save on Sheahan this game would have definitely gone to overtime. The run that Hiller is on has been fun to watch and should get the NHL's attention. Maybe we'll hear Hiller's name in the Vezina discussion down the stretch.
Next Game: Wednesday, January 15 – 7:30 p.m. PST vs. Vancouver Canucks