Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3 (4/21/09)

Tonight the Red Wings were in Columbus to play game three of their first round series. This is the first time Columbus has ever hosted a playoff game so the fans and players there were really pumped. This game would also show us how important having last change is to the Red Wings. In this case I didn’t expect it to be that important because I think the Wings matchup very well against the Blue Jackets no matter what line is out there. Again, the starting goaltenders were Osgood and Mason.

It took just over a minute for the Red Wings to spoil the festivities for the Blue Jackets. Holmstrom came into the zone and took a shot that Mason stopped. The rebound came out to Hossa who shot it quickly. Mason might have got part of it with the knob of the stick and then it hit the crossbar and dropped down on the goal line. Meanwhile Holmstrom had moved to the front of the net and had wide open goalmouth in front of him. He tapped it in making it one to nothing very early in the game.

With less than a minute left in the first period Detroit struck again. Franzen threw the puck at the net. Cleary was in front and he picked up the rebound. He separated himself slightly from his defender and then spun with the puck and shot it. Mason didn’t know where to expect the shot to go and it got by him to give the Wings the two to nothing lead.

Osgood was superb in the first period. The Blue Jackets had some glorious chances and Osgood shut the door. He came up big with saves during the penalty kill and on several point blank chances. It was a great way to start a road game. Columbus had more shots on goal than Detroit did but that’s because they had a power play and Detroit didn’t. If not for the power play, shots they were even. Detroit out-hit Columbus 19 to 12 but Columbus had the edge in face-offs.

In the second period the Blue Jackets went on the power play again after Holmstrom was called for goaltender interference. This was a pure reputation call. He didn’t touch Mason at all. He was pushed into him by a Blue Jackets player but still managed to avoid hitting him. He did slap at the puck when it was up against Mason’s pads but I don’t recall anybody making THAT illegal. Detroit really shut them down on that power play. I don’t think they even had any shots.

Later in the second period Stuart creamed Umberger with a great hip check. Then Commodore tried to hit Cleary and ended up in the Red Wings bench. Then Franzen got taken down behind the Blue Jackets net and while that was going on Cleary passed the puck to Zetterberg in the slot. Zetterberg was standing all alone between the hash marks. He shot and scored and it seemed like nobody even noticed. They didn’t even show a replay of it because they were still talking about all the hits. Whatever, it was three to nothing Red Wings.

One stat that struck me was that through two periods the Blue Jackets had a total of only two shots on three power plays. That’s some good penalty killing by the Wings.

In the third period the Jackets went on the power play and the puck ended up on the goal line behind Osgood. He didn’t know it was there but Stuart alertly jumped in behind it and shoved it away.

Later in that same power play, with less than four minutes left in the game, the Blue Jackets scored to break Osgood’s shutout streak at just over 144 minutes. The penalty kill was a little squirrelly because the Wings had trouble clearing. They were getting control of the puck a lot but their clearing attempts were being cut off by Columbus. They kept throwing the puck to the net and finally Umberger, who was standing in front of Osgood, backhanded one that got by him.

The Blue Jackets pulled their goalie in the final minute and Zetterberg bagged the empty-netter with about 30 seconds left in the game.

Detroit played very well in this game. The only problem was that one penalty kill where Columbus scored. Osgood continued playing even better than he did last year in the playoffs. He’s playing like he’s already seen these games before. It looks like he knows where every shot is going. It’s just incredible to see.

The next game is Thursday and the Red Wings will be looking to put the Blue Jackets down for good in that one. Hopefully, they can keep up the great work and then get some rest before the next round.

This 4-1 win brings this Western Conference Quarterfinal series to 3-0 Red Wings.

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