2013 NHL Playoffs: Red Wings Concede Momentum to Ducks for Game 3

Matt HutterAnalyst IMay 4, 2013

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 02:  Kyle Palmieri #51 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts to his goal to trail 4-3 in front of Joakim Andersson #63 of the Detroit Red Wings during the third period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 2, 2013 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Things were looking good, very good.

Within a minute of the third period of Game 2 between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings, the score was 4-1 Detroit and all looked right with the Wings.

Less than 20 minutes later, the score was even at four and, at least for Detroit, everything had gone straight to hell.

Luckily (and I mean that literally) the Wings pulled out a win in Game 2 to even the series, but what transpired in the third period of Game 2 could give the team and fans alike a little bit of anxiety heading into Game 3 on Saturday.

Typically, when a team is coming off a Game 2 win and heading back to their barn for Game 3, they've got all the momentum on their side. However, in this case, the momentum is about even, if not tipped in Anaheim's favor.

The Red Wings had Game 2 well in hand at the start of the third period on Thursday night because they returned to the fast-paced, hard-charging, relentless brand of hockey that saw them win their last four games of this season.

The Wings then decided to take the game a little easier, and the Ducks promptly erased their lead and dominated Detroit for the remainder of the game.

But for a spurious call on Sheldon Souray (even the nuttiest of Wingnuts should be able to admit the call was questionable, at best), the Wings might well have lost Game 2 altogether.

While Gustav Nyquist's OT goal certainly eased the pain of coughing up a 4-1 lead, the Red Wings can't forget about why Nyquist's heroics were needed at all.

From Jimmy Howard's net on out, the Red Wings lost sight of the fact that a three-goal lead is no reason to stop competing, especially against a team as talented and physical as the Ducks.

This loss of focus will certainly inform how Mike Babcock prepares his team for Game 3, but the same can be said for Bruce Boudreau. The Ducks now know that the Red Wings, even when leading by three goals, can still be had.

Added to the nearly total collapse in Game 2, the Red Wings will now be facing life without their biggest surprise of the season in defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who is out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken thumb.

DeKeyser's play down the stretch of the regular season and in Games 1 and 2 of this series has belied the fact that he's as green as gets in the NHL.

Going from college player to NHL roster player, almost literally overnight, rarely if ever yields such immediate and positive results as it has for DeKeyser and the Wings.

His speed, poise and hockey sense have been a huge asset to the team since joining the team straight out of Western Michigan University in early April.

Now, the team will need to choose between veterans Ian White or Carlo Colaiacovo, the former a healthy scratch the last month of the season, the latter injured for most of the year, to replace DeKeyser.

The Red Wings won Game 2, and that's a great thing.

But, their team-wide breakdown in Game 2 and the loss of DeKeyser will give the Ducks more than enough confidence that they, not the Wings, are the team to beat at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.