Krupa: Red Wings turn in complete effort in Game 3
Detroit — They set out to play their best game of the series, a complete game.
They wanted to make it look like it looked in December and January, not March.
The Red Wings took care of their chores in the neutral zone and in front of Petr Mrazek, by and large. The Lightning was looking at a different scene. All of a sudden, there were Red Wings everywhere.
And their defense created what it usually does, offense.
When they were able to capitalize on their scoring chances, the Wings started making the Lightning look like it can be had in this series
The kid from Muskegon is really writing some kind of story for himself, in the Red Wings jersey for which he dreamed as a kid.
Back from an injury, with a bad hand in whatever shape is it in he was all over the ice Tuesday.
His hand sure looked OK on his assist on the winning goal.
Gaining a stretch of ice in front of the Lightning net, carrying the puck, Abdelkader gave it a little bit of a right, then left, drawing a defender to him and perhaps making another one delay, for just a moment.
And then Abdelkader feathered a pass perfectly to Riley Sheahan who played it like a Stradivarius.
Meanwhile, Abdelkader was a force all over the place.
He was second on the squad with six hits.
Deterrence was his intent.
When Lightning center Cedric Paquette ran Mrazek in the net — a bit of dirt that required some response, at some point, surely — Abdelkader went right at him.
He may get a lecture for not standing down, at that juncture. It would have created a five-on-three, and that would have been the better play, clearly.
But his intent was clear, and it came on a team that does not always forcefully exhibit such intention:
Do not tread on us!
First career playoff shutout
Mrazek is making his coach's difficult choice look like genius.
It has not been a clean year, for the 23-year-old net minder. Some bad goals have gone in.
But he stopped 22 of 22 shots against the most prolific offense during the regular season Tuesday.
When the Wings were up 2-0 and on the power play, Niklas Kronwall took a tough angle, trying to intercept the Lightning forward Brian Boyle at the Tampa Bay blue line, he failed
And down came big Boyle, on Mrazek.
And "Petey," as they call him around the room, absolutely stoned Boyle, from eight feet.
Mrazek was spectacular on that shot. But, mostly, was just terrifically steady — the sort of steadiness that eluded him, at times, this season.
Asked what he wants from the goalies, Babcock invariably says, "Just stop the puck."
Mrazek is stopping it.
Pavel Datsyuk got them started up again, just like he did at the start of the series in Tampa.
He scored on the first Wings shot of the first game, when the Lightning seemed destined to totally overwhelm them.
He scored on the third Red Wings shot of the third game, when they were fairly all over the Lightning, but in need of some "finish."
Sure, Tomas Tatar bounced it off of Datsyuk's leg. But it went in.
At times during the regular season, even when they were hot, the Wings were failing to score. Capitalizing on their chances can be an issue.
Off his body or not, it put the Wings ahead early.
Great home crowd
They were loud. They were proud.
The "Let's go Red Wings!" came early, well before the puck drop, and often.
They were in full voice, with great tone and rhythm.
And do not think the boys did not notice. They do.
And their criticisms of the refereeing were on point.
It was a bravura performance by the denizens of Hockeytown.
And, as far as the players and their coaches go, the more of it, the better.
The Wings came out flying, fairly tilting the ice for the first eight minutes of the contest, and outshooting the Lightning, 3-0, at 8:46 of the first period when Datsyuk scored.
Datsyuk, Tatar and Helm threatened frequently.
Henrik Zetterberg, Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist did, also.
And, they took the body. About 12 minutes in, they were outhitting the Lightning, 16-6, according to the score sheet.
With the crowd into it, at times, the energy all sort of snow-balled.