The Red Wings saved their series Thursday night in Anaheim (technically Friday morning in Detroit).
It’ll go down in the books as an 5-4 overtime win, but it was looking like an unmitigated disaster for the Wings, who watched their 4-1 lead evaporate in a 12-minute span in the third period.
First, Ryan Getzlaf scored to cut the lead to 4-2, then less than five minutes later Kyle Palmieri scored. Five minutes after that, Bobby Ryan tied the game.
“We got a lesson here tonight in that you can’t stop playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the postgame show. “You can’t get nervous, and you can’t not want the puck.”
The good news for the Wings is that their power play, which had netted them two goals from Johan Franzen, had 1:23 left on another one after the third period ended.
Gustav Nyquist needed 1:21 of that to bury a perfect pass from Valtteri Filppula to end the game and salvage the Wings’ night and avoid a tough deficit in the series.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Nyquist said. “It was a great pass by Fil and kind of an empty net, I guess. Just tried to put it on net, fortunately, it went in.”
Babcock said Nyquist knows how to score and did in a vital situation.
“Huge win for our team,” Babcock said. “We’re 1-1. We came in here and stole the game. We had the game well in control, and they scored a goal and we got nervous.
“No one really wanted the puck. We’ve got a bunch of kids that looked like that a little bit. We got puckered up and didn’t play very good.
“But huge play to win the game.”
Had the Wings blown a three-goal lead and then lost in overtime to fall to 0-2 in the series, there’s no way they would have been able to recover to win the series.
That’s tough to do with a veteran squad, never mind a team that has so many young players in key roles.
“People don’t understand how many kids we got,” Babcock said. “It’s totally different with kids than it is with veterans. Settling them down is a new thing.
“I thought we got a real good life lesson here — just gotta keep your foot on the gas and keep going after it, and we’ll be better. We’re going home, and our crowd’s going to welcome us.”
Every playoff team that starts on the road wants to win at least one of the first two games, so mission accomplished there for the Wings.
The mission will get more difficult, though, and not just because the Ducks will be motivated to return the favor by winning on the road in Detroit.
Rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who had impressed so many and earned a spot among the top-four blue-liners, is lost for the rest of the playoffs.
Babcock said that DeKeyser suffered a broken right thumb.
“He made some plays again (in Game 2),” Babcock said. “He’s a kid, don’t get me wrong. But he’s a good player, so that’s a big blow for our team.
“But there’s other guys that have been working hard. Lash (Brian Lashoff), (Carlo) Colaiacovo have been working like crazy, trying to get back in the lineup.”
Veteran Ian White is also available.
The Wings can make it easier on themselves if they play at home the way they did in the last week of the regular season.
“You know what? We came out here to get the split, and we got it done,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who finished with 28 saves. “Now we gotta go back and take care of business at home.”