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Friday, May 3, 2013
Wings-Ducks could be series to remember

By Craig Custance


ANAHEIM -- The Detroit Red Wings jumped out to a two-goal lead just five minutes into Game 2, then Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout to gather his team and deliver a message.

Stay with it.

For the most part, Anaheim had carried the play, but the Ducks were burned by an ugly turnover from Teemu Selanne that set up Damien Brunner’s first NHL playoff goal, one that followed a goal from Justin Abdelkader 48 seconds into the game when he found a corner on Jonas Hiller, screened by a defenseman.

Even when the Red Wings went into the first intermission with that same lead, Boudreau reminded his players that winning each of the next two periods by one goal would be enough to wrestle this game back.

Even as Detroit opened a three-goal lead, Boudreau and the Ducks kept pushing.

“They were always talking about, Get one and we can get two,” Boudreau said. “Get one and we can get two.”

By the time Bobby Ryan tied the game late in the third period, it felt like an inevitability. The push from the Ducks got stronger and stronger as the game went on as Detroit mistakenly tried to sit on a lead against one of the biggest offensive powerhouses in the playoffs.

“They just kept coming at us, coming at us. In the playoffs, you can’t really take your foot off the gas,” Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “That includes all of us.”

But Detroit hung on in this one, and the 5-4 overtime win taught us something about each one of these teams. First there’s no lead safe against the relentless Ducks. And the young, skilled Red Wings still have enough veteran presence to regroup while learning on the fly in the playoffs.

It sets up the making of what could end up being an incredible series.

Johan Franzen did what he does during the playoffs, scoring twice. But it was 23-year-old Gustav Nuquist who won it in overtime. A mix of Red Wings old and new sending this series back to Detroit tied 1-1.

“We’re going to learn from this experience,” Franzen said. “We’re a young team, a lot of new players this year. We’re probably going to come up stronger from playing this game.”

It was a game that marked the arrival of Detroit’s greenest players. Brunner, who had been slumping offensively, had a three-point night. Nyquist showed his high-end skill, in popping in the game winner. And defenseman Danny DeKeyser continued to show his incredible cool. When Selanne took a swing at the back of his head, then followed it up with a shove, the defenseman who was in college classes a few months ago just skated away.

The win was exactly the formula the Red Wings need moving forward in this series. Contributions from the kids mixed it with the expected production from the veterans, such as Pavel Datsyuk (two assists), Henrik Zetterberg and Franzen.

Boudreau wanted this thing to end in regulation. When the Ducks tied it on Ryan’s goal, he saw Detroit reeling. He saw Howard struggling in goal. He saw an opportunity he knew would disappear with the third period.

It did. The Red Wings regrouped and capitalized on a overtime power play. The goal capped a game in which the competition level, physical play and scoring improved dramatically from Game 1. For both teams.

It only gets more interesting from here.

“We know it’s going to be tight,” Franzen said. “They have a skilled group, a hard playing group like us. It’s going to be fun.”