DETROIT – Justin Abdelkader lined Toni Lydman up and launched himself into the Anaheim defenceman, knocking him over and sending the Detroit crowd into a frenzy.
Those cheers turned to boos soon enough. Abdelkader’s hit left the Red Wings short-handed, and the Ducks took advantage.
Nick Bonino scored on the power play 18 seconds after Abdelkader was ejected for his hit on Lydman, and Anaheim went on to a 4-0 victory Saturday night to take a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings in the Western Conference playoffs.
Abdelkader appeared to catch Lydman square in the side of the head with his left shoulder, and he was given a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct with 4:49 remaining in the second period.
“From what I gather, the league has done a pretty good job with these things, and I’m not going to say anything,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Mr. Shanahan can look at it.”
Mr. Shanahan, of course, is Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations and player safety. Abdelkader’s hit already cost the Red Wings in Game 3.
The question now is whether he’ll face additional discipline from the league.
“His shoulder hit his shoulder, and the kid went down hard. They called it a major. I’m not involved in the next part of the process,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I didn’t think he was up. I didn’t think his arms were up or anything.”
Lydman was slow getting up and was eventually helped to the bench. He did not return, and Boudreau said after the game Lydman had a headache.
Abdelkader wasn’t in the locker room when reporters were allowed in after the game.
“I didn’t get a great look at it. It looked like he made contact with his head. It’s a hockey play but it wasn’t intentional,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler said. “I know Abdelkader and that’s not the kind of player he is. He’s not a guy trying to do something like that.”
The Ducks immediately took advantage of the penalty when Bonino backhanded a shot past goalie Jimmy Howard from point-blank range.
Detroit killed off the rest of the major, but Ryan Getzlaf, Emerson Etem and Matt Beleskey added goals in the third for Anaheim. Jonas Hiller made 23 saves for the Ducks.
The Red Wings went on the power play early in the third, but Damien Brunner turned the puck over near his own net, and Getzlaf easily stickhandled around Howard for a short-handed goal with 13:27 left.
Etem scored his first career post-season goal when he was left alone in the slot and one-timed a pass from Teemu Selanne past Howard. Beleskey scored on the power play with 6:26 remaining from almost the same spot.
“I think we felt pretty good going in for the third. I think we did a lot of good things. I think we just had to keep doing that,” Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg said. “Of course when he scored that short-handed, the momentum kind of shifted back to them. Then they got the third one right after that and it’s game over.”
The Red Wings tied the series at 1 despite blowing a three-goal lead in the third period of Game 2. Gustav Nyquist’s overtime goal won that game, but Detroit lost defenceman Danny DeKeyser to a broken right thumb during the 5-4 victory.
The teams were a combined 7 of 19 on the power play heading into Game 3, but neither could take advantage in the first period Saturday. Detroit had a two-man advantage for 40 seconds, and Anaheim had one later in the period for 37 seconds.
Hiller and Howard kept the game scoreless. After Howard made one last save in the final seconds of the period, there was a brief pileup in front of the net. Howard emerged with no helmet on, and the crowd began chanting “Jimmy” as the teams headed off the ice.
The second period was a bit less action packed—until Abdelkader’s hit. It was an aggressive move, an attempt to give the home team some energy.
It ended up having the opposite effect.
“I think we kind of came up flat in the second period,” Fowler said. “That got us going.”
NOTES: Howard made 25 saves. … The team scoring first has won every game in the series. … It was the third playoff shutout of Hiller’s career.