The Flyers, who have not won a game at Joe Louis Arena since November of 1988, led through much of the game. Jeremy Roenick opened the scoring three minutes in, tipping Justin Williams’ shot past goalie Dominek Hasek.
Detroit had a power play opportunity with 12:16 remaining in the first, but Philadelphia’s penalty-killing unit was able to intercept many of Detroit’s passes and keep the Wings from scoring.
The Flyers’ turn on the power play came a little while later, when Jiri Fischer was called for cross-checking. The Red Wings’ penalty-killing unit was in good form, however, and the Flyers were unable to score.
The Flyers defense was able to shut down the Red Wings offense through most of the first period, allowing only eight shots on goaltender Brian Boucher, as compared to Philadelphia’s twelve shots against Hasek.
Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull tied up the game 5:20 into the second period, on a two-on-one rush. Hull carried the puck, lured the defenseman and the goalie towards him, and passed to Robitaille, who flipped the puck over the flopping Boucher.
Detroit wound up in penalty trouble towards the end of the period. Boucher received a delay-of-game penalty for the Flyers with 7:43 remaining, but the Wings had only twenty seconds on the power play before Robitaille was penalized for tripping.
The situation deteriorated to four-on-three when Nicklas Lidstrom was given a penalty for high-sticking, even though the replay clearly showed that the hit was made by Sergei Fedorov, not by Lidstrom. The Flyers Marty Murray was able to score just ten seconds before Lidstrom’s penalty would have ended. This was Murray’s first NHL goal in nearly six years; his last was scored on October 19, 1995.
Detroit had another power play opportunity at the end of the second, when Kim Johnsson was sent to the box for cross-checking. Even though this power play generated more scoring chances, Boucher kept the puck out of the net.
The third period stayed scoreless until near its very end. The Red Wings, seeking overtime, pulled Hasek from the net with just over a minute left to play. Finally, forty-one seceonds before the final buzzer, Fedorov picked up a pass from Brendan Shanahan, and sent the puck flying past Boucher.
The fans and players appeared to be settling in for overtime, but the Red Wings would have none of that. Only eighteen seconds before the third period’s end, Steve Yzerman picked off an errant Philadelphia pass and sent the puck across to Hull, who fired it past Boucher to score his 652nd career goal and bring the Wings’ record to 6-1-0.
Hull’s game-winning goal brought him into sixth place on the list of all-time leading goal scorers, tied with Mark Messier. The two share first place on the list of still-active goal scorers.
Luc Robitaille will face down his former teammates and the Red Wings will seek to avenge last year’s playoff defeat, when they play host to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.