Detroit — Justin Abdelkader left the ice, then he left the game.
Now the question is where he left his team, after his costly major penalty in the second period of Game 3 put the Red Wings in an awkward spot, down a game in this playoff series with the Ducks and potentially down another man going forward.
Abdelkader's thundering hit on Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman effectively knocked both players out of the game at 15:11 of the second period. The Wings' forward was hit with a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, while Lydman, whose head took the brunt of the hit from Abdelkader's shoulder, looked woozy after he finally was helped to his feet and didn't return.
And while the sellout crowd of 20,066 at Joe Louis Arena voiced its displeasure with the call, there's little doubt it'll be reviewed by the league for possible supplementary discipline. Whether the hit draws a suspension under Rule 48, which covers illegal hits to the head, remains to be seen.
But it didn't take long to see what Abdelkader's ill-advised play did to a scoreless game that had featured plenty of power-play time — and a fair bit of physical play — but no goals through the first 35 minutes. Eighteen seconds into Abdelkader's penalty, the Ducks finally broke through as Nick Bonino scored to give Anaheim the only goal it'd need on this night.
They'd later add insurance goals as Ryan Getzlaf picked Damien Brunner's pocket and poked in a short-handed goal at 6:33 of the third period, opening the floodgates as the Wings' playoff home opener went from rowdy to rout in relatively short order.
And for that, there's plenty of blame to go around, starting with the first period when the Wings wasted nearly 5.5 minutes of power-play time and a chance to take control of the game early.
But it's Abdelkader's play — unnecessarily going high and using an opponent's head instead of his own — that proved to be the turning point in this game. And perhaps in this series as well.