Detroit took the Game Seven victory on Sunday night, holding on to a 3-2 victory in the second straight series game in which they faced elimination.
The Red Wings came out firing early and had seven of the first eight shots of the game. Henrik Zetterberg, who finally arrived to play in Game Six, scored at 1:49. He was skating on a new line with Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary. The shift seemed to work, as Zetterberg also posted an assist on Detroit’s second goal of the game.
The Ducks were favoured in the series over the Red Wings in most circles, with the less than stellar season in Detroit serving as fuel for the fire. Entering as the seventh seed to go against the team with the third best record didn’t help matters, but Hockeytown hung in there and won three of the series’ final four games.
For the Ducks, this is the first time they haven’t won a first round playoff series since 2009 despite having home ice advantage in the seventh game. Perhaps some of that disappointment is associated with head coach Bruce Boudreau, who never got the Washington Capitals out of the second round prior to joining the Ducks.
The series was a close one, for the most part, with four games going to overtime. The Wings benefitted from the extra frame, getting all of their wins save for the last one in it. To make things more interesting, the Game Seven road win was just the third Game Seven road win in franchise history. The victory puts them in the next round for the sixth time in seven seasons.
There are some significant questions for Anaheim coming out of this loss. The club will have to look at whether or not Teemu Selanne has played his last game, for one, and Corey Perry’s no-show performance in the series will have to be addressed. He did have 24 shots on goal, but his lack of production certainly hurt the Ducks’ chances.
Detroit got points out of Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller won the close goaltending matchup from a purely statistical view. His 2.46 GAA contrasts with Jimmy Howard’s 2.74, while a .917 save percentage doesn’t hurt when your opponent has a .911. From that standpoint, it really came down to who made the most of their chances. Howard faced 224 shots in the series, good enough for second in the playoffs (James Reimer’s 237 shots faced is tops) while Hiller took on 218.
Howard and the rest of the Red Wings will face off against the Blackhawks now, while the Ducks will put in some work to what went wrong. The series could’ve gone either way and really came down to one goal, but that doesn’t mean this loss won’t be hard for Anaheim to take.