The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/06/13 at 03:30 AM ET
Red Bird III remained parked at Denver International Airport on Friday night as the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that the Red Wings' coaches and leadership agreed that burning a Saturday for the sake of an overnight flight back to Detroit, especially given that the team's going to play a 12:30 PM matinee game against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, wasn't worth the wear and tear on their bodies.
The Wings barely earned their night's rest, but Jimmy Howard was sensational, Niklas Kronwall was vicious and Pavel Datsyuk scored two gorgeous goals as the Wings rebounded from a downright doofy 4-2 loss to Phoenix with a rope-a-dope, 3-2 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
As such, the 19-14-and-5 Wings now sit in 7th place in the Western Conference, 1 point ahead of Sunday's opponent (though the Blues have played 36 games to the Wings' 38) and 4 points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, in no small part thanks to St. Louis' 3-1 win over those same Blue Jackets earlier on Friday evening.
All turned out well for the Wings...
But the Avs pushed pretty damn hard in both their 3-2 loss to Detroit this past Monday and in Friday's defeat, and they took some consolation in out-shooting Detroit 25-13 during the second and third periods, but the emphasis is on "some," as noted by the Denver Post's Mike Chambers in both his recap...
"It's fun when there's a lot of people (in the arena). There's more atmosphere," Giguere said after his second consecutive start. "Bottom line is we really haven't given people reason to come see us. We've played poorly. But we had a pretty good game, some good effort tonight. We played with desperation. It was nice to see that."
The Avs (12-20-5) allowed the first goal for the 26th time in 37 games and trailed 2-1 after two periods. Detroit led for all but 13 seconds during that stretch, and zapped the momentum Colorado built on Mark Olver's breakaway goal that tied it early in the first period.
Just 13 seconds after Olver beat goalie Jimmy Howard with an impressive bar-down backhand, Gustav Nyquist intercepted McGinn's pass and made a nice move in front of the right post to make it 2-1.
Datsyuk scored his first goal 8:27 into the game, taking advantage of a soft defense and a Johan Franzen pass from behind the goal line. Avs defenseman Greg Zanon backed too much toward Giguere and Datsyuk had plenty of room to operate between the circles after collecting Franzen's feed.
"Our guys competed really hard tonight, especially in the third period," said Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "Overall it was a real good game. It was entertaining. ... It's just unfortunate that we weren't able to come up with that extra point because we really played hard. We competed at a high level."
And a post-game blog entry:
If only Avs defenseman Erik Johnson hadn’t been in the sin bin during Detroit’s power-play goal, giving the Red Wings a 1-0 lead 8:27 into the game. Don’t remember the replay on Johnson interference minor, but Detroit capitalized, tarnishing a herculean-type effort for the 25-year-old D-man.
Johnson played a game-high 28:50, was plus-2, had four shots, two hits and three blocked shots. While he still has just four points (zero goals) on the year, he is now even.
Young defenseman Tyson Barrie also played a starring role (again), logging 22:03. I keep thinking this D will have a good nucleus to build around if the last-place Avs end up drafting No. 1 overall and bring defenseman Seth Jones back to Colorado. With just 11 games remaining, picking first or second looks pretty good.
Some other notes that won’t make the paper: P.A. Parenteau scored his 15th goal, tying him with Matt Duchene for the team lead, and has eight points in his past eight games. . . . J.S. Giguere played in his 568th game, tying Arturs Irbe and Cesare Maniago for 47th all-time for NHL games played by a goalie. . . . Hard to believe that was Pavel Datsyuk’s first multiple-goal game of the year, but it was.
Parenteau: “It’s the story of our year, really . . . I thought we played really well. Like I said, it’s tough to swallow. it seems like we can’t catch a bounce lately. This one is heartbreaking.”
The Avs reiterated their points of emphasis to the Associated Press...
"There were some positives again. We've played some good games lately," Parenteau said. "We're not getting the results."
The Red Wings went into Friday having lost three of four. They slipped to seventh place, one point ahead of St. Louis, which has played two fewer games. Detroit is a perennial top seed in the postseason but is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990. However, in this lockout-shortened season, things change in a hurry. A loss to Colorado would have moved Detroit to eighth in the conference.
The Avalanche have been reduced to the spoiler role for the third straight season. Colorado is last in the NHL in points and is looking at a high draft pick for the fourth time in five seasons.
"It's just frustrating right now," said Giguere, who made 28 saves. "We can all feel the pressure, and it's just unfortunate."
Despite the different directions, this game was close. Detroit took a 1-0 lead on Datsyuk's power-play goal midway through the first period -- his team-leading 12th goal of the season. Colorado tied it when Olver scored on a breakaway at 11:36, but Nyquist gave the Red Wings the lead back with his second goal 13 seconds later."The puck kind of came right to me," Nyquist said. "I just tried to fake the shot and have [Giguere] go down. I tucked it in short side."
It stayed that way until the third, when Colorado came out charging. The pressure paid off when Parenteau tipped in a pass from Jamie McGinn at 6:29 to tie it 2-all. The Avalanche continued to dominate in the third and held a 14-1 advantage in shots before Tyson Barrie took a penalty at 14:16. The Red Wings couldn't take advantage of the power play, and the game went into overtime.
And Giguere lamented the OT goal he surrendered to NHL.com's Rick Sadowski, whose recap serves as our pivot point between the Avalanche's and Red Wings' perspectives:
Datsyuk reached with his stick to poke a loose puck behind Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere after Henrik Zetterberg, who earlier in overtime was stopped on a breakaway, passed the puck in front.
"I tried to position for a shot, but I was hooked when I tried to make a move at the net," Datsyuk said. "[Zetterberg] passed to me and I followed the rebound and just jammed it. We needed these points. We have a tough division and the fight for playoffs and we're happy when we finish this way."
Giguere faced six shots in overtime and 31 for the game.
"They were throwing a lot of stuff at the goal," Giguere said of the overtime. "Datsyuk was coming towards me. I made the first save and the puck just went right to his stick. It's an unfortunate way to finish this game, because I thought we played pretty well. We played for the first time in a long time with emotion. We played like we were desperate."
The victory was Detroit's second in the past five games; both have come against the Avalanche, who have lost 11 of their past 13 games and are in last place in the overall standings.
The Avalanche outshot the Red Wings 16-6 in the third period and tied the game 2-2 on a goal by PA Parenteau at 6:29. Parenteau was at the base of the right circle when he redirected Jamie McGinn's diagonal pass behind goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard survived a barrage by the Avalanche in the final minutes of regulation before Datsyuk's game-winner.
"[The win] was huge," said Howard, who made 33 saves. "We let off the gas there a little in the third, but I think that had a lot to do with [playing two games] in two nights. The key is we found a way to get the two points, a much-needed two points."
The Wings readily admitted that their level of execution was less than elite while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"It was very obvious we were running out of gas, big-time, but I thought our guys hung with it and got some good goaltending and got it done," he said. "It was one of those nights on your schedule, you look at and think it's going to be a tough one, just with the time we got in here. But, big win for us."
Frustrated over a sloppy second period the Thursday night at Phoenix that resulted in a loss, Babcock overhauled his defense, inserting three players who had sat that night, stuck with Jimmy Howard in net because “Howie gives us the best chance,” to win, Babcock said.
Babcock said he’d have made changes up front if he had any healthy bodies available; in lieu of that, he changed his lines, reuniting Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and using Johan Franzen to center the second line. Franzen responded with as dominant a game as he's had all season. Datsyuk responded with a smile and an "awesome," when asked how it was to be back with his long-time line-mate. "Play with captain. It's great."
It was the now-reliable power play that came through first for the Wings, with Zetterberg shrugging off two defenders along the boards to chip a pass out to Franzen. Franzen slipped the puck back into the slot for Datsyuk, who notched his 12th goal of the season.
Next came a 13-second span that saw the Wings lose their lead and regain it. Mark Olver scored on a breakaway at 11:36, but before the Avs could grab any momentum, Gustav Nyquist stole the puck off Matt Duchene, waited for Jean-Sebastien Giguere to slide to his left and then sneaked the puck in behind him.
"Last night, it looked like were stuck in quicksand," Howard said. "Tonight, we just battled out there."
Playing for the second time in 24 hours, against a team that had been off for two days, and playing at the mile-high altitude caught up with the Wings as the game wore on, and the Avs got the better chances early in the third period. P.A. Parenteau evened the score at 6:29. The Wings hung on for the one point to end regulation, then demonstrated their belief in themselves.
"It was basically just battling," Howard said. "It didn't matter what it looked like, just do whatever it took to keep the puck out of the net. This was huge. The key is, we found the way to get the two points, and a much-needed two points."
But the game's hero was obviously in good spirits afterward, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted:
Pavel Datsyuk scored with 15.4 seconds left in overtime, his second goal of the game on a pass from Henrik Zetterberg, to clinch the victory. Datsyuk batted in his own rebound past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to score his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
"A Holmstrom goal," said Datsyuk, referring to former teammate and legendary net-front player Tomas Holmstrom. "Z tried to pass it to me and I just went for the rebound."
"We needed these points," Datsyuk said. "We have a tough situation, a fight for the playoffs, and we're happy we finished this way."
With the win, the Red Wings (19-14-5, 43 points) maintained their seventh seed in the Western Conference and stayed one point ahead of eighth seed St. Louis (the Blues defeated Columbus 3-1). The Red Wings and Blues play Sunday at Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m., Channel 4).
"Huge," said Howard of being able to earn the extra point in the standings. "We took our foot off the gas in the third period (Friday), but that had to do with playing the second game in two nights. The key was we found a way to get a much needed two points."
Cue the astute observation from the coach:
Babcock shuffled his lines to find offensive spark, reuniting Datsyuk with Zetterberg (along with Justin Abdelkader), while centering Johan Franzen with wings Valtteri Filppula and Nyquist. Franzen, in particular, drew the attention of Babcock.
"Mule (Franzen) was fantastic in the middle," Babcock said. "I want Mule to be dominant. I've said it before, Mule is the X-factor on this team. He's a good player, and we need him to be playing at the highest level possible."
That tends to involve prodding and poking, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg didn't need much motivation, with Datsyuk taking 4 shots, making 5 more attempts, registering a takeaway and going 11-and-12 in the faceoff circle over the course of 22:21 played, and Zetterberg taking 8 shots, registering 2 more attempts, 2 assists and a blocked shot in 21:31 of ice time.
"We needed these points,'' Datsyuk said. “We have tough situation, in fight for playoffs.''
Said Datsyuk: “We play yesterday, we had long flight. They were a little bit fresher. But Jimmy played good, stopped everything he could and gives us good chance.''
The Red Wings swept the three-game season series against the Avalanche and improved to 7-2-1 on the second night when playing back-to-back.
Babcock lauded his team's commitment and battle level.
“It was very obvious we were running out of gas big-time, but our guys hung with it, we got some good goaltending and found a way to get it done,'' Babcock said. “It was one of those nights on the schedule you look at and think it's going to be a tough one, just the time we got in here (2:30 a.m.). But, it's a big win for us. Now we got to get home and get ready for St. Louis (Sunday).''
As for Danny DeKeyser, he registered 2 giveaways and 3 takeaways over the course of 16:36 played, and while Kyle Quincey (wearing a full facial cage) and Ian White were up-and-down as the trio replaced Brian Lashoff, Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo, and he was, as Babcock likes to say, "fine." Khan took note of DeKeyser's performance...
“I had some jitters for a few minutes, but when you get the first shift or two out of the way you feel pretty good out there and it’s like another game,'' DeKeyser said. “It’s a little quicker and there’s not much time out here as I used to have. But, it’s something that I’ll have to adjust to and just make the simple plays.”
DeKeyser was paired with Ian White at even strength and Kyle Quincey on the penalty kill.
“I thought he was really solid,'' White said. “Usually it takes a little while to get your feet wet, but I thought he was good pretty much from the get-go. Obviously, a lot of nerves coming into a situation like this. It would be one thing to be a new guy starting the season, but we're in pretty much a do-or-die situation every game. So to come in in a must-win game like this and be calm under pressure like that spoke volumes about him.''
“We had a chat before the game and it was nice to maybe lend some of my experience and help him through I'm sure a little bit of anxiety,'' White said.
DeKeyser said his debut was everything he thought it would be when he dreamed of playing in the NHL as a kid.
“The building was loud, the fans were awesome. It was a great game, up and down, fast game,'' DeKeyser said.
He said being in the building rekindled some memories of old Red Wings-Avalanche battles.
“I remember (Patrick) Roy and (Mike) Vernon in the 90s (their fight in 1997), watching some of those games,'' DeKeyser said. “Those were some exciting games. Definitely a fun history there.''
As did the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
For a kid who grew up in Detroit, followed the Red Wings, and dreamed of playing in the NHL, this couldn't be better. Defenseman Danny DeKeyser made his NHL debut Friday against the Colorado Avalanche and didn't look out of place while helping the Red Wings a 3-2 overtime victory. The game puck was in his locker stall afterward.
"I don't know who dropped it off," said DeKeyser with a wide smile.
But playing in his first NHL game, wearing a Red Wings jersey, and against the hated Avalanche — having watched the rivalry when he was a youngster — the momentous occasion was everything he thought it would be.
"Pretty much everything like when you think about as a kid," said DeKeyser, a Warren DeLaSalle grad and Western Michigan player, who was paired with Ian White. "The building was loud, the fans were awesome. It was a great game, and we won, I'm glad we got the extra point."
"I liked him," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's going to be a good player in this league for a long time. Obviously he has to get stronger, but he's a good skater, he's smart and a good defender. He's pretty easy to like. There will be growing pains for him, and I imagine he was a little nervous to start the game, but he played good for us."
Said DeKeyser: "I had some jitters at the start but after a couple of shifts, it was kind of like another game. I was able to settle down a little bit."
Is he going to continue playing? Maybe. The Free Press's Helene St. James covered DeKeyser's debut as well as Babcock's suggestion that one viewing was not enough:
Babcock said he'd review game tape before deciding if DeKeyser will make his Joe Louis Arena debut Sunday, when the Wings host the Blues.
DeKeyser, 22, was highly touted coming out of Western Michigan. Many teams coveted him, because 6-foot-3 defensemen with DeKeyser's level of mobility are hard to find, much less at the price of a two-year entry-level contract. The local product, who graduated from Warren De La Salle, hopped on the ice with the Wings last Saturday, basically with the mind-set of cramming for a final exam as he immersed himself in Detroit's style of play. It helped that it looked familiar.
"A lot of the system stuff here is kind of somewhat similar to what I had at Western," he said, "so it's not too much difference. I'm ready."
Playing his first game on the road relieves the intensity of playing before a home crowd. DeKeyser did have his parents and siblings, as well as an aunt, at the Pepsi Center to watch his debut. His new teammates also have helped ease the nerves.
"All the guys here have really made me feel comfortable," DeKeyser said.
Highlights: The Red Wings website's highlight clip's narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: The Avalanche's website posted a clip of P-A Parenteau, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Matt Duchene discussing the game, and if you really want to watch Brian Englbom and Kyle Keith talk about the game on Altitude.tv, enjoy;
The NHL Network's analysis of the game is basically narrated highlights;
The Red Wings' website posted clips of Jimmy Howard...
And coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media:
Photos: The Detroit News posted a 12-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted an, um...4-image gallery;
The Denver Post posted an 8-image gallery;
MLive posted a 6-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 29-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted 12 images from the game in its Wings' gallery;
Shots 35-31 Colorado overall. Detroit out-shot Colorado 12-9 in the 1st, was out-shot 9-7 in the 2nd, was out-shot 16-6 in the 3rd and out-shot Colorado 6-1 in OT.
The Wings went 1-for-4 in 4:46 of PP time; the Avs went 0-for-3 in 4:14 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 33 of 35 shots; J-S Giguere stopped 28 of 31.
The 3 stars were picked by Altitude TV's Mike Haynes, and they were Mark Olver, P-A Parenteau and Pavel Datsyuk.
Faceoffs 28-26 Detroit (Detroit won 52%);
Blocked shots 22-20 Detroit;
Missed shots 12-10 Detroit (total attempts 67-53 Colorado, with the Wings firing 31 shots on Giguere and 32 wide or into Avs players);
Hits 30-23 Colorado;
Giveaways 14-7 Colorado;
Takeaways 12-9 Colorado.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-12 (48%); Franzen went 8-and-5 (62%); Emmerton went 2-and-4 (33%); Andersson went 3-and-3 (50%); Filppula went 3-and-0; Cleary won his only faceoff; Eaves and Abdelkader lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Zetterberg led the team with 8 shots; Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Nyquist had 4; Eaves, Miller and Andersson had 2; Cleary, White, Filppula and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Datsyuk hit Avalanche players 4 times; Abdelkader, Kronwall and Franzen had 3 shot attempts blocked; Quincey had 2 attempts blocked; Nyquist, White, Miller, Zetterberg and Filppula had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader, Ericsson and Kronwall missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Zetterberg, Filppula and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Quincey and Franzen co-led the team with 4 hits; Kindl and Kronwall had 3; Abdelkader and Eaves had 2; White, Miller, Tootoo, Emmerton and Ericsson had 1.
Giveaways: Quincey, DeKeyser and Howard had 2 giveaways; Tootoo had 1.
Takeaways: DeKeyser had 3 takeaways; Datsyuk, Miller, Tootoo, Kronwall, Andersson and Franzen had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 6 Avs shots; White blocked 3; Kindl, Eaves, Emmerton, Quincey and Ericsson blocked 2; Cleary, Miller and Zetterberg blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Franzen took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -1. Eaves, Tootoo, Emmerton and Quincey finished at -2; Kindl finished at -1; Datsyuk, Nyquist, White, Zetterberg, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen finished at +1.
Points: Datsyuk scored 2 goals; Zetterberg had 2 assists; Nyquist scored a goal; Kronwall and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 28:04 played; Ericsson played 23:26; Kindl played 23:31;
Datsyuk played 22:21; Quincey played 21:40; Zetterberg played 21:31;
Miller played 18:22; Abdelkader played 16:57; DeKeyser played 16:36;
White played 16:21; Franzen played 16:11; Filppula played 16:01;
Nyquist played 14:45; Cleary played 14:10; Andersson played 13:28;
Emmerton played 11:39; Eaves played 9:39; Tootoo played 8:44.
Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: The end of two games over the course of two nights in two cities, especially when beat writers fly commercial like the rest of us, yield this kind of post-game roster update:
I tried to cover Khan's report about DeKeyser's pre-game jitters and Damien Brunner's still-nebulous status due to his hip flexor injury that no one is calling a hip flexor injury except for the media in the game-day thread, but the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's pre-game-turned-post-game notebook offers quite the quip from the coach:
After Thursday's loss, there wasn't much doubt goaltender Jimmy Howard was going to start Friday.
"My job is to give us the best chance to win," Babcock said. "And Howie gives us the best chance."
If you didn't already catch it, Kyle Quincey told everyone who would listen that Denver is an awesome place to live, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of Quincey's first visit to his previous employer's rink since rejoining the Wings a year ago:
“The hardest thing about the trade was (leaving) the guys in the dressing room,” he said. “They have a great group of guys there, my closest friends. Good to see them. I make my home in Denver, so I'll have a lot of friends there outside of hockey. It'll be good to see them again. I had a lot of good memories there, making the playoffs, so it's good to go back there.”
Quincey received a lot of ticket requests for tonight’s game, which, he said, is compounded by it being a Friday night game and the fact that the Colorado Rockies are also playing their first baseball game of the new season in Denver.
“It's Opening Day, big day in Denver,” Quincey said. “People going to the Rockies game will then go to the Wings game. … Hopefully I get enough tickets for all the people.”
Tonight will also be Quincey’s return to the Red Wings’ lineup since being struck on the right side of the head by a puck in Edmonton on March 15. A X-ray later showed that he had several small facial fractures that didn’t need surgery to repair. However, as a precaution he must wear a full face-cage because he still is experience from numbness in his face.
“Don't feel teeth, gums, lips,” said Quincey as he pointed to the right side of his face. “That's just the one issue, but it doesn't affect me on the ice. I'm eating softer foods, not the hard stuff. Good for the diet. Hopefully by playoff time I won't have to worry about it and can take this cage off.”
And this is inevitable: Bill Roose talked to Danny DeKeyser's family
Hard to imagine that there were two prouder parents at the Pepsi Center than Linda and Mick DeKeyser on Friday night. The Michigan natives were among 18,007 fans at the sold out arena when the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Red Wings. But unlike the overwhelming majority in attendance, the DeKeysers were there to mark a very special occasion.
“What can you say? It’s definitely going to be a whole lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to it,” said Mick DeKeyser, as he, his wife and a few other family members settled into their seats in Section 106 to watch the NHL debut of Danny DeKeyser.
DeKeyser attended St. Mary Grade School in Mt. Clemens before spending four productive years at Warren De La Salle, where he was an outstanding student, despite playing travel hockey, which forced him to often miss plenty of class room time. But even at a very young age, he made a commitment to himself to be the best that he could be at whatever he put his mind to.
“He was always a very good student and was never a problem,” Linda DeKeyser said. “He’s always done what has been asked of him, and he had to work hard because he traveled with travel hockey. He could be in Canada, Quebec, Toronto. We could be in a tournament in Florida, out west, anywhere. So we always had homework in the vehicle. A lot of times he was eating his meals as we were driving somewhere. You sacrifice a lot. You miss your birthdays at home sometimes, his grandma’s birthday at home.”
But now, after days of deliberating over contract offers from practically every NHL club, the DeKeysers have their son back home, and attending his games will be much easier now that he’s suiting up for his favorite boyhood team.
“He finally did decide to go with his home team, because this is where he is from, he was born in Detroit,” Mick DeKeyser said. “He had a chance to play here and how can you pass that up?”
In the prospect department: In Sweden, Mattias Backman's season is over as Linkopings HC dropped a 3-1 decision to Skelleftea AIK on Friday, losing their Swedish Eliteserien semifinal 3 games to 1. Backman played 17:21;
In the ECHL, Trevor Parkes scored the Toledo Walleye's only goal in their 2-1 double overtime loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones in the first game of their first-round playoff series. The Walleye's website and the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe provide recaps and note that the Walleye and Cyclones go right back at it tonight at the Huntington Center.
The Walleye's YouTube channel provides highlights:
In the QMJHL, second-round play began on Friday, and Martin Frk registered 3 assists as his Halfiax Mooseheads defeated Gatineau 7-0;
Phillipe Hudon scored a goal as his Victoriaville Tigres dropped a 5-3 decision to Gatineau;
And Blainville-Boisbriand Armada captain Xavier Ouellet registered 1 assist as the Armada defeated Gatineau 10-1;
In the OHL, the Andreas Athanasiou's Barrie Colts took a 1-0 lead on the Oshawa Generals via a 6-3 win on Thursday--as second-round play began in the OHL--and on Friday, Athanasiou registered a goal and two assists in Barrie's 4-1 win over Oshawa. Athanasiou was named the game's second star;
Alan Quine's Belleville Bulls opened their second-round series against Sudbury with a 6-3 win, and Quine registered 2 assists;
And in my backyard, the Plymouth Whalers defeated the Owen Sound Attack 4-1 in their second-round opener;
In the USHL, Mike McKee returned from an injury but didn't register a point in the Lincoln Stars' 4-3 win over Omaha;
In the BCHL, James De Haas and the Penticton Vees will play in the BCHL Final against the Surrey Eagles starting next Friday, April 12th;
And in the AHL, in Abbotsford, BC, the Grand Rapids Griffins began their back-to-back series agains the Abbotsord Heat with a 4-1 win. With his British Columbia-based dad in the crowd, Landon Ferraro scored 2 goals and an assist and Calle Jarnkrok registered an assist on one of Ferraro's goals.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' website provides a recap...
The Grand Rapids Griffins reached a historic milestone Friday at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre, as their 4-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat marked their 700th win in the team’s 17-year history.
Landon Ferraro opened up the scoring in Abbotsford to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead at 4:11 of the opening period. Calle Jarnkrok made the initial pass to Tomas Jurco, who found Ferraro for a quick tic-tac-toe play. The center caught goaltender Barry Brust out of position and tapped the puck into an empty net, scoring his 20th goal of the season. The assist was Jarnkrok’s first point in the AHL.
Grand Rapids (40-23-3-3) scored two goals in 47 seconds to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the Heat (31-30-4-6). Ferraro put the Griffins on top 2-0 on a power play goal at 7:12 of the second period. Grand Rapids snapped the puck past Brust on the power play after a feed from Jarnkrok for his second goal of the night. As Brust reached out to block his shot, Ferraro converted a wraparound attempt between the goaltender’s pads.
Jeff Hoggan then made it 3-0, netting his 12th goal in the last 25 games. Jan Mursak fed Hoggan on the right side of the net and the left wing showed great patience, waiting until he was around the goaltender to slide his forehand shot inside the left goal post. The Griffins ended the second period with a 19-4 shot advantage over the Heat.
Petr Mrazek kept the Heat off of the scoreboard with an impressive save midway through the third period. A rebound came free to Abbotsford’s Max Reinhart and Mrazek reached across with his glove hand to protect a wide open net and knock the center’s shot down.
Former Griffin Krys Kolanos scored Abbotsford’s lone goal of the game at 11:16 of the final period. Mrazek made the initial save and the puck fluttered behind him to the goal crease, where Kolanos tapped it into the back of the net for his 15th goal of the season.
Jurco sealed the victory for the Griffins with an empty net goal at 18:24 of the final period. The right wing’s shot from 45 feet away from the net was his 12th goal of the season.
Brust blocked 16 of 19 shots before giving way to Danny Taylor (who stopped all 18 shots he faced), while Mrazek earned the victory with 22 saves.
The Canadian Press noted that Ferraro was among friends...And family...
Griffins forward Landon Ferraro made sure his supporters in attendance didn't go home disappointing. With at least 25 fans cheering him on, the Vancouver resident scored twice as Grand Rapids beat the Abbotsford Heat 4-1 in American Hockey League action Friday.
“In junior I don’t think I scored one goal at the Pacific Coliseum,” said Ferraro, recalling when his Western Hockey League teams Red Deer and Everett would visit the Vancouver Giants. “It’s nice to get one in front of family.”
Ferraro had actually scored in his first trip to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre last season and now has three goals in as many games while visiting B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
“He’s an offensive player and a great guy,” said Griffins’ captain Jeff Hoggan. “It was good to see him step up tonight.”
Hoggan and Tomas Jurco also scored as Grand Rapids (40-23-56) moved within one point of second-place Toronto in the Western Conference standings. Petr Mrazek made 23 saves to snap a personal five-game losing streak. His best stop was in the third when he robbed Max Reinhart to keep the shutout intact. The rookie sprawled across his crease to get a glove on a backhand shot to deny Reinhart of a sure goal.
“He’s had a couple rough outings with us in front of him the last couple,” said Ferraro. “Tonight we didn’t give up many shots but he made some huge saves. It easily could have been 3-3 going into overtime but he kept us in it and that’s what he’s done all year.”
Ferraro, with his father Ray Ferraro in attendance for a Heroes of Hockey promotion, opened the scoring for the Griffins at 4:11 of the first. Jurco’s initial shot was stopped but Ferraro raced to the net to snap a loose puck past a sprawling Brust.
“The first goal was big, Lando doing that,” said Hoggan. “We kept getting shots. We had them doubled at one point. We didn’t give them any hope that they could get back in it. We kept the pressure up and sustained it.”
Ferraro picked up his second of the game on the power play at 7:12. Calle Jarnkrok found him down low at the side of the net, and when Brust reached out to poke check Ferraro the 21-year-old slipped it through the five-hole. That was Ferraro’s fourth multi-goal game of the year, though it was just his first tally in his past nine games.
And SendtoNews posted a highlight clip from the game:
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