Thursday, April 29, 2004

Down to a best of three

Detroit took a page from the Calgary playbook of game three and came out flying for Thursday nights Game Four showdown. The Red Wings scored on their first foray into the Flames end of the ice, as Kirk Maltby scored at the 26 second mark of the first, setting the tone for a wild scrambling kind of night. Kris Draper did most of the work on the goal as he took the puck down the boards on the right wing, behind the net and then passed it in front of the Calgary net where Maltby banged it in, silencing the Calgary crowd temporarily.

The made for the only goal of the first period as both teams then began to trade chances from end to end. The shots on goal signifying just how tightly matched these two teams were, Detroit out shot the Flames 11-9 in the first, both teams had 11 shots in the second and 7 shots in the third period. Curtis Joseph and Mikkaa Kiprusoff continued to duel at either end of the rink with Cujo winning this night’s battle. Cujo and the Wings were finding all sorts of ways to keep the Flames off the board when they began to press in the Red Wing end.

The second period looked like it was going to be the end of the Red Wings as the Flames roared out of the gate scoring two goals in eighteen seconds, suddenly putting the Wings on their heels. Calgary had a number of other chances in the wild second period but couldn’t translate the chances into goals. Goal scorers for the Flames were Martin Gelinas and Ville Niemmenen. Red Wing markers came from Mathieu Dandenault, Boyd Deveraux and Henrik Zettenberg in addition to Maltby.

For Birthday boy Curtis Joseph the win came under quite a bit of fire, as Calgary was trying to get back into the game they started crashing the net, putting up the screen and generally tried to get him off his game. But the now 37 year old Cujo was up to the challenge.

To say the win was a big one for Detroit would be an understatement, a loss Thursday would have seen the Wings down 3 games to one, giving the Flames a serious confidence boost. As it is, the series now boils down to a best of three competition. The series now boils down to the young legs of the Flames, against the wise and rehearsed plays of the Wings. Now that they’ve clawed their way back to even, expect the Red Wings to keep up the same pressure as in Game four. For Calgary its more intensity, more shots and a little bit of luck, if a few of the just misses had gone in Thursday, this series would have had a whole different tone to it heading into game 5. Instead of being in a deep hole, Detroit is just as likely to win the series as Calgary is. The teams renew acquaintances on Saturday afternoon at the Joe.

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