DETROIT — In the early hours of Friday, Gustav Nyquist erased any idea of a marathon night of overtime playoff hockey when his goal ended Game 2 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Nyquist’s first career playoff goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Now, instead of returning to Detroit down two games to the Ducks, the Red Wings enter today’s Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena with a split in hand and a certain mind-set going into the next stanza of the best-of-seven series.
“Now,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told reporters, “it’s the first to four wins.”
Ducks left wing Bobby Ryan pointed out what the split in Anaheim meant for them.
“We lost an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series, and we let it get away,” he said.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock initially didn’t put too much stock in the fact his team split the first two games on the West Coast.
Instead, he focused on the youth of his team and that the Red Wings squandered a 4-1 lead in Game 2 and allowed the Ducks to send the game to overtime on Ryan’s goal with less than 3 minutes left in regulation.
“We were, at times, as frazzled as we’ve been there in a long time,” Babcock said. “Guys want to win bad and got caught standing around watching instead of playing. It’s a good life lesson for our crew.”
Yet, Babcock said, “Good for kids. We have lots of kids on our team. They’re not like veterans. They’re just different. It just takes time for them to figure it all out. They’ll figure it all out. This will be a good thing.”
Nyquist said after the win that the combination of a well-timed slashing penalty against Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray — called with 38 seconds left in the third — as well as Detroit’s leadership, helped propel the Red Wings in overtime.
“When we came in [the locker room], our leaders said, ‘Just get back to the way we’re playing,’ ” Nyquist said. “We had a big power play coming up and we had to capitalize on it.”
The call on Souray, which came less than 2 minutes after Ryan tied the game, ultimately jeopardized Anaheim’s chances to capitalize in the series.
“We had a chance to really put them in a hole,” Souray said.
“But it’s 1-1. We came back, we scored three goals in the third period, and showed a lot of jam there. But we’re going to need a more complete game if we want to win the next one.”
Initially, Babcock didn’t put much stock in splitting the first two games of the series, but later relented a bit in summing up what’s next for his team.
“It’s a best-of-five now, and we have home-ice advantage,” Babcock said.
NOTES: Babcock said after the game that defenseman Danny DeKeyser is out for the remainder of the playoffs after sustaining a broken thumb in the third period Thursday. Brian Lashoff is expected to take DeKeyser’s place in the lineup today. … Johan Franzen sat out of overtime after he was hit in the head during the third period, an injury Babcock called “a bump,” but resulted in Franzen undergoing a concussion test. Franzen also was struck between the legs by a shot in the second period.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.