Detroit and Calgary faced off for a huge 2 points in the race for the Western Conference 8th seed. With a win, Detroit jumped up 2 points to a 3 point lead on Calgary for that final spot. In a game that could have very easily turned into a 3-point final by way of overtime, the Red Wings found a late third period goal to push them to a 2-1 victory and more importantly, 2 points.
Calgary got on the board first, under 2 minutes into the game. A pass from Andreas Lilja to Darren Helm went through Helm's legs and landed on the stick of Nigel Dawes. Dawes took the puck to the net and put a shot on net. The rebound landed on the tape of Craig Conroy. A handful of Detroit chances and a Brian Rafalski shot off the post were about all that the Red Wings had to show for the first period.
For two teams battling each other for the last spot in the West at the time being, the first period was very tentative and sloppy. Each team registered 10 shots on net but very few were quality scoring chances. The pace picked up considerably in the second period and both teams put their offense on attack. The Wings equaled their first period total in shots with 10 in the second. The biggest shot came with 50 seconds left in the period.
But before that all important shot could be made, another shot had to be saved. Detroit had a power play after Steve Staois was given two minutes for interference on Kris Draper. Curtis Glencross corralled a loose puck and was in on Jimmy Howard with two Detroit players trailing. Henrik Zetterberg got called for hooking and Glencross got a penalty shot out of it. Glencross came in with a ton of speed and didn't deke much, just putting a shot on Howard that he stopped with ease.
Seconds after Howard stopped Glencross' attempt, Pavel Datsyuk picked up a pass from Brian Rafalski and with Tomas Holmstrom standing in front of Miikka Kiprusoff, fired the puck top shelf stick side for a tied game with 50 seconds remaining in the 2nd period. It was Datsyuk's team leading 22nd goal of the season and his 6th in 7 games. The power-play goal continues the team's streak to a whopping 10 games.
The third period was full of chances for both teams. Brian Rafalski took a double minor for high-sticking and it looked to be a crucial turning point in the game for Calgary. Instead, it turned out to be a huge momentum boost for the Red Wings. The Wings killed off the full four minutes and got some spring back in their step. The teams wound up quality chance after chance on net and it wasn't until the dying minutes of the third that the Wings ended the tie.
Detroit managed to keep the puck in the zone on a clearing attempt by Calgary with under 1:30 to play. Even though three of the five Red Wings had vacated the zone in an attempt to get back on defense, Johan Franzen cranked a shot up from the blue line. With Holmstrom in his office in front of Kiprusoff, he deflected a shot that was going well wide of the net into the top shelf for a 2-1 Detroit lead with 1:19 to play.
Holmstrom did what he does best by deflecting the puck and the Wings survived a 6 man attack with Kiprusoff pulled to get the 2-1 win.
Player of the game: Tomas Holmstrom. It was hard not to give this one to Jimmy Howard who played a very solid game for Detroit. But if it weren't for Homer's derriere blocking Kiprusoff's view all night, the two goals wouldn't have been scored.
#96 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Jan 23, 1973