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Red Wings-Ducks: Detroit Survives Thanks to Ugly, Made-for-Playoffs Goal

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMay 15, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 14:  Dan Cleary #11 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his third period game winning goal behind Francois Beauchemin #23 and Ryan Getzlaf #15 during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-3 to win the series 4-3.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Thomas Edison ought to be proud.

It was Edison, the inventor, who famously opined, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Ole Tom would have loved the Red Wings’ series-winning goal Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

It was a typical playoff tally—devoid of artistry, full of ugly.

Dan Cleary’s goal with exactly three minutes left in the third period wouldn’t make the highlight reel of a beer league team’s end-of-the-year video.

But it was beautiful to the Red Wings, who now move on to face the Chicago Blackhawks in a Western Conference Finals series that can’t possibly be any more taxing than what the Wings and Anaheim Ducks just went through.

The series-winning goal, though, might have been drawn up on a playoff chalkboard.

Flick the puck to the net. Charge net. Bull your way in and keep jamming your stick where you think the puck might be. Repeat until red light goes on.

“It was the biggest goal of my career,” Cleary said afterward.

So far.

The Red Wings are now rid of these Ducks, who seemed to be made up of one line and two defensemen. Yet those five players managed to take the defending champions to the brink of disaster.

Oh, and a goalie. The Ducks did have that. And a good one.

Speaking of goalies, where are all the Chris Osgood bashers this morning?

Anyone? Anyone?

Osgood won the game for the Red Wings. That’s all. Won the series for them, too, in the process.

Ozzie, yet again, came up big when the stakes were the highest.

Early in the game, he charged from the net, stacked his pads, and committed hockey robbery on Jim Wisniewski, who slammed his stick against the glass as a result, when he thought he’d be raising said stick in triumph for giving the Ducks that precious 1-0 playoff game lead.

Later in the period, Osgood validated the work of his three defenders during a five-on-three disadvantage and made sure all their hard work didn’t go for naught. He made two or three terrific saves while the Ducks had 70 seconds of a two-man advantage.

None of the blame for the three goals that the Ducks scored could be laid at Osgood’s skates.

He did what is required from a Red Wings goalie: Just make the saves when we need them to be made, OK?

That’s what Grant Fuhr did, by the way, playing for those turbo-charged Oilers teams in Edmonton, back in the day.

Mr. Fuhr would surrender four, even five goals, but if the Oilers needed one stopped, reliable Grant stopped it.

To the tune of three Stanley Cups.

Which is how many Ozzie has won, by the way—two as a starter.

History will show, methinks, that this series will go down as one of the very best and most thrilling that the Red Wings have ever participated in.

That the Ducks were able to push the Red Wings to the 57th minute of Game Seven is a testament to their outrageously productive line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan.

Those three, I swear, played 45 minutes last night. Maybe more.

If they ever left the ice, it was while I was blinking.

Yet the Red Wings are supposed to wear such teams down, with their depth and their grind-it-out style of play, right?

Well, they did. It just took them six games, some overtimes, and 57 minutes of the seventh game to do it, that’s all.

Right!

But they did it.

So now it’s on to the Final Four, for the third straight year and eighth time in 14 years.

Ahh, so THAT’S why they call it Hockeytown—a nickname that I, as a Detroiter, have long had a problem with.

What must they say in Montreal, with their 20-plus Stanley Cups?

Detroit’s borrowing the self-proclaimed title. But that’s OK.

All is forgiven today.

It’s hard to imagine the much younger, much more playoff-inexperienced Blackhawks giving the Red Wings anywhere near as difficult of a series as the Ducks did.

I may not be allowed back into the Windy City for saying this, but I don’t see this anticipated Original Six foray going any longer than five games.

So sue me.

That said, the Red Wings better be ready to go on Sunday. Maybe a series like this tussle with Anaheim will be of benefit to the Red Wings going forward.

They needed a test after their four-game laugher with Columbus.

There was hardly anything to laugh about during this ordeal with the Ducks.

The overtime loss, yet another at home, in Game Two.

A quick whistle to rob them of a tying goal at the end of Game Three.

A stinker of a Game Six, when the Wings skated in muck all night.

Not funny at all.

But they’re gone now, these pesky Ducks. Maybe the best No. 8 seed to show up for the playoffs in quite some time. Maybe ever.

The Wings playing the Blackhawks after the Ducks is backwards.

It’s like the Rolling Stones opening for a garage band.

Told you I wouldn’t be allowed into Chicago.

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