Holmstrom scored two goals and added an assist but required 13 stitches to close a pair of gashes on his forehead after being crashed into the boards in the second period. Goaltender Dominik Hasek stopped 29 shots for his 14th career shutout as the Red Wings took a 2-1 lead in the series.
“We had lots of speed tonight,” said Holmstrom, who scored on a first-period power play and a second-period wraparound, before the hit. “We played a really solid hockey game.”
Holmstrom looked like a bug smeared against a windshield when Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger and forward Rob Niedermayer smashed him into the boards from behind at 11:40 of the second. His helmet flew off and he crumbled to the ice.
Team trainers helped Holmstrom off the ice but he returned in the third to assist on Valtteri Filppula’s goal.
“They just wanted to make sure I didn’t have a concussion,” he said. “I got stitched up and I was ready for the third.”
Niedermayer was given a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
“I was very surprised about the call,” he said. “All I did was take a few strides, finish my check, and hit him with my shoulder.
“You don’t want to see anybody hurt out there, that’s for sure. I’m glad he was back playing.”
Holmstrom shrugged when asked if it was a dirty hit.
“I got run into the boards, got hit again,” he said. “I never saw the guy come from behind.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock questioned why any player would ram another’s head into the boards.
“I’m a big believer in looking after each other,” said Babcock. “I don’t care how much is on the line at any time, you have to look after the other player.
“When he doesn’t see you and you decide you’re going to bury his head off the turn buckle or whatever, that’s a decision you make.”
It was a dominating performance by the Wings who came to Anaheim frustrated after splitting the opening two games of the series.
“I think the key tonight was our start,” said Todd Bertuzzi, who scored his second goal of the playoffs in the second period. “We wanted to make sure we would come out strong. That’s exactly what we did. We got the 2-0 lead and carried on from there.”
Johan Franzen scored the other Detroit goal. Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists each.
A sellout crowd of 17,358 went home disappointed after watching the most lopsided defeated in Ducks playoff history. Game 4 in the best-of-seven series will be played Thursday at the Honda Center.
Coach Randy Carlyle said the game turned in the second period when Detroit scored goals 17 seconds apart and the Ducks took a string of six penalties.
“Things really spiralled down quickly for our group in the second,” he said. “Our frustration level got up there and we didn’t show the necessary discipline that’s required.
“Did we lose our composure? I’d have to say it left lots of room for improvement.”
Defenceman Scott Niedermayer said watching the video replay of the game will be a real horror show.
“We weren’t playing our structure the way we wanted to play,” he said. “They played well. We played poorly. It’s simple.”
Carlyle said his team can’t dwell on the loss.
“It’s a seven-game series,” he said. “The next game’s the most important.”
Babcock and the veterans in the Detroit room know it was only one win.
“My experience in playoff hockey is there’s very little momentum carried from game to game when the series is tight,” he said. “There’s a new challenge that’s going to be presented in a couple of days here.
“We just got to get rested and be prepared for it.”
After putting the Ducks in a hole with two goals in the first period, Detroit sealed the deal in the second. The Wings notched the two quick goals and outshot Anaheim 13-2.
Bertuzzi made it 3-0 at 3:17 when Dan Cleary’s pass bounced off his stick, hit Duck goaltender J.S. Giguere and went into the net. That ended Giguere’s night as he was replaced by backup Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov didn’t fair much better, allowing Holmstrom’s second goal on the first shot he faced.
Franzen made it 1-0 midway through the first period when he directed a cross-ice pass from Mikael Samuelsson past Giguere. It was Detroit’s first even-strength goal of the series.
Holmstrom made it 2-0 with just 43 seconds left in the period on a power play. It was the first power-play goal the Ducks had allowed at home during the playoffs.
Notes-Celebrities at the game included actors John Cusack and Cuba Gooding Jr., rocker Kid Rock and Olympic silver medallist figure skater Sasha Cohen. …The previous three times the Ducks and Wings met in the playoffs the series all ended in sweeps. Detroit won in 1999 and 1997 while Anaheim took the 2003 series. …When Teemu Selanne played his first NHL season with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93, Carlyle was in the final year as a player. …Scott Niedermayer’s 12 career overtime goals is tops all-time among NHL defencemen.