Red Wings-Coyotes: Losing Leads Becoming Theme for Detroit After 3-2 Loss

Evan DrexlerContributor IOctober 23, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 22:  Adrian Aucoin #33 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammate Peter Mueller #88 after Aucoin scored the game-winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL game at Arena on October 22, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Another night, another blown lead for the Red Wings.

Tomas Holmstrom and Brett Lebda scored to give Detroit a 2-1 lead, and then the wheels slowly fell off late.

Controversial or not, Phoenix tied the game with less than three minutes remaining because the Coyotes crowded the net and Chris Osgood had no idea where the puck was.

Not Osgood’s fault, just great rushing to the net and confusion generation by Phoenix.

The game winner? Much more on Osgood’s shoulders. Adrian Aucoin sped into the offensive zone down the right boards and flung a shot toward the net, a shot that normally has little chance of going in.

Osgood had a clear view of the puck, but it somehow deflected off his stick and went into the net just two minutes into overtime.

Final score: Detroit 2, Phoenix 3 in Arena.

Those are the kinds of goals in hockey that make me wonder why teams don’t do as much shooting when they’re in the offensive zone. So often, teams will carry the puck and do a lot of fancy passing to fake out the goalie.

In this case, like countless others, just throwing the puck willy-nilly at the net was all it took for Aucoin to send the fans home happy. Throw the puck at the net, good things happen.

Blown leads are becoming Detroit’s signature this season. I wrote after Saturday’s loss to Colorado that I would be expecting plenty of blown leads in the future. It only took one game for that to be true.

In good news for Detroit, Pavel Datsyuk was back in the lineup and played very well for the first time all season.

He picked up two assists in the game and now has four on the season. Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were on fire with assists in the game, as Zetterberg took the second assists on both Detroit goals.

Three more observations:

  1. Road woes. The Phoenix game was the first of five straight road games in the Wings’ longest road trip of the season. Detroit is now 0-3-1 away from Joe Louis Arena this year and has been outscored 18-10 in those games.
  2. Shoot the puck! Usually a rarity in seasons past, the Coyotes outshot the Red Wings 33-27 in the game. Detroit is averaging 30.2 shots per game this year (16th in the league) against 29.8 for their opponents. For comparison, the Red Wings’ numbers from last year were 36.2 (first in the NHL) against 27.7 (second), and their 2007 numbers were 34.4 (1st) against 23.5 (first).
  3. Laying low. Former Wing Robert Lang had a quiet night for Phoenix, shooting twice but not recording another stat in his 15:37 of ice time.

Player of the game: Aucoin. He assisted on the Coyotes’ first goal and score the game-winner in overtime. Simple enough.

Best of the Wings: Datsyuk. First assists on both Red Wings goals, and that pass to Lebda for his goal was beautiful.

Word of the game: Motif. As in, blown leads will be the motif of Detroit’s season. They’re the recurring theme, the story arc, the unifying piece to the early part of the year.

Up next: Saturday, at Colorado, 9 PM