Justin Abdelkader's huge blow sent a Ducks player sprawling and sent the crowd into a frenzy. But as it turns out, the Red Wings suffered the much bigger blow, and chances of recovery aren't looking good. One hit changed this game and might have changed this series. Abdelkader was given a five-minute penalty and kicked out, and faces a possible suspension for clobbering defenseman Toni Lydman. Nobody is suggesting Abdelkader struck with malicious intent, but he was needlessly reckless and the Wings paid for it. The Ducks broke a scoreless tie 18 seconds into the power play and rolled to a 4-0 victory Saturday night, taking a 2-1 series lead. Lydman didn't return, and in a league increasingly vigilant about head hits, Abdelkader could get a one-game suspension. As impactful blows go, that'd be crushing, creating a hole on the top line for a team that struggles to score. Mistake upon mistakes Abdelkader's feistiness and physical style are admirable, and often very effective. But he made a mistake on a team that makes way too many, and once again, the Wings fell apart. I think the penalties were warranted because Abdelkader leaped at the moment of impact. The hit began shoulder-to-shoulder but ended with Lydman knocked woozy, and with Abdelkader's skates high in the air. That driving flourish turned it into a head issue, and that compounds everything. The problem is, it was hardly the Wings' only error of the night. They killed off the rest of the five-minute power play at the end of the second period and had a shot to tie it. But Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf picked the puck from rookie Damien Brunner, deked Jimmy Howard and scored a short-handed goal early in the third to make it 2-0. The mistakes kept coming and the Ducks kept capitalizing, and this outcome had little to do with Howard, who was very good until the Wings buckled. The young defense corps is prone to stretches of disarray where they can't even clear the puck from their zone. Rookies Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff were out of position when Emerson Etem took a perfect pass from Teemu Selanne to make it 3-0. The Wings already lost rookie Danny DeKeyser with a broken thumb, and if Abdelkader is out for Game 4 Monday night, look out. "I haven't looked at the replay that much, but from what I saw, I'd be real surprised if he gets suspended," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "He comes with a lot of speed and it's a good hit, shoulder to shoulder. Of course, Abby is a big part for us, and it changes the lines and changes the way we play. He's a guy that eats a lot of minutes and he wasn't able to play in the third. But if we'd scored on the power play in the first period, it'd be a different game too."
Justin Abdelkader's hit deals Red Wings far bigger blow
Detroit News | May 5