Go to the net. It's an axiom that's as tired as lacing up one skate at a time and giving it 110 percent. In Friday's second-round game between Detroit and Anaheim, a 3-2 (RECAP | BOX) victory for the host Red Wings, if you weren't renting some square footage in the opposing goalie's crease, if you didn't try on his chest protector after a goalmouth collision, if you didn't perform at least one baseball slide into the net, kicking out opposing skates as you slid by, well, maybe you just weren't trying hard enough. Watch the puck go back to the point and as fast as you can say Tomas Holmstrom, somebody was making an illegal border crossing into the keeper's living space. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller has located his helmet, thanks, but the equilibrium that got knocked off in that last melee is still under a pile somewhere.
Say what you want about the Red Wings being a finesse team that doesn't fight much and beats teams with speed, a lethal power play and a transition game that accelerates to hyperspeed in a flash. The Wings got into Hiller's kisser all night long and produced all three of their goals because of it.
After Anaheim took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the first period, the Wings pressed the attack and knotted the score five minutes later when Johan Franzen flew down the right side, beat Hiller with the equalizer and then plowed into him, dislodging the goalie's helmet. While most people were focusing on the high hit Anaheim's Mike Brown laid on Jiri Hudler a few minutes later -- watch for a suspension to follow on that one -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was seething about the Franzen's stalling breaks. "It's amazing isn't it," Carlyle said after the game. "They're supposed to be protecting the goalies and the guy runs the goalie over."
Detroit only scored once on the ensuing five-minute power play, when Nick Lidstrom blew a shot past Hiller just as Anaheim's Ray Whitney was on Hiller's doorstep, knocking over Holmstrom, who was limited to one goalie interference penalty on a fairly restrained evening. "We got trapped down low on that play," Carlyle lamented. "Whitney was taking out Holmstrom and it left two and half feet of an open net."
The Ducks tied the score on the power play late in the second period when Teemu Selanne took two shots from the lower left slot and finally beat Chris Osgood. The Detroit goalie stopped the first through traffic, but couldn't see through the roadblock to set himself quickly enough for the second, as Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer was giving Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart a nudge from behind.
The teams traded chances in the third period before the Wings pressed for the winner in the final minute. Again, Detroit forwards preoccupied two Ducks by simply going to the net. On one side of the goalmouth, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf wedged off Henrik Zetterberg. One the other, Chris Pronger took out Franzen. That allowed Lidstrom to cash in a rebound of his own shot, beating Hiller in the five hole before he could get his pads set. This from a goalie who usually goes down early and is more susceptible to the high shot. "You can tell it's playoff hockey," Lidstrom said later. "I don't know who was in front of the net, but they cleared out the Anaheim defensemen for me."
The scene as Anaheim pressed for a tying goal in the closing seconds was almost comical. Osgood turned back Selanne with 2.1 seconds to play, but was promptly encroached by the other five Ducks. Todd Marchant and Corey Perry stuck their butts into the net as Pronger, Niedermayer and Getzlaf all jabbed sticks at him. Ever see those photos in which frat boys overloaded with Guinness try to set Guinness world records for most college students who can wedge into a phone booth? That was the scene. It was a fitting ending to a tale of two trenches that only figures to get more cluttered as the series continues.