Nicklas Lidstrom celebrated his 800th game in the NHL by scoring his 450th career assist and helping the Red Wings come to a 4-4 tie with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The teams seemed an even match throughout the first period. Both played a tight defense. The Blackhawks allowed the Wings only four shots against goalie Steve Passmore throughout the period. The Wings let in nine against Dominik Hasek, but the majority of those were shots from far back that Hasek could see and stop easily.
Neither team was assessed a penalty in the first period. “That’s pretty unusual for a Detroit – Chicago game,” said Darren McCarty, smiling during a first-intermission interview.
The Red Wings opened up offensively in the second period. Their first goal came only thirty-six seconds in. Sergei Fedorov passed to Brendan Shanahan, got the return pass, and flipped the puck just over Passmore’s arm for the goal.
Detroit got a power play chance 3:27 into the second when Ryan Vandenbussche was sent out for holding. The power play did what it set out to do, as Shanahan took a cross-ice pass from Lidstrom and fired a hard one-timer from a bad angle on the left wing side. The puck flew past Passmore and hit the inside of the net.
Kris Draper put the Red Wings up by three goals exactly one minute after Shanahan’s goal. Shanahan won an offensive zone faceoff and got the puck to Draper, who put it right into the net, for his eighth goal of the young season, tying his last year’s total.
Chicago, after a lecture from coach Brian Sutter, started to come back hard. They scored their first goal of the night 8:22 into the period. Tony Amonte took a pass from Alexei Zhamnov. Instead of shooting, Amonte passed the puck to Kyle Calder at the net, who was able to flip it in behind Hasek.
The third period belonged mainly to the Blackhawks, as they continued their offensive pressure. Detroit ran into trouble when they wound up with a five-on-three situation resulting from a high-sticking penalty to Freddy Olausson and a boarding penalty to Kirk Maltby just under a minute and a half later. Zhamnov was able to fire the puck past Hasek from a tight angle just seconds after the first penalty expired, before Olausson was able to catch up to the play.
Hasek was surprised again just over a minute later. Eric Daze took a pass from Calder and flew fast down the right wing side. He fired the puck apparently before Hasek expected him to, and the score was tied at three.
Daze scored again to break the tie halfway through the third. He was able to steal the puck from Mathieu Dandenault and go in alone against Hasek, who was unable to stop Daze’s tricky shot.
Before Detroit could lose too much momentum, help came from an unexpected source. Igor Larionov passed from near the boards up to Luc Robitaille near the net, and Robitaille fooled Passmore by sending the puck cross-crease to McCarty instead of firing. McCarty was easily able to send the puck into the net behind Passmore, scoring his first goal in twenty games.
Despite six minutes and forty seconds of fast and furious regulation play by both sides, not to mention a full five minutes of overtime, neither team was able to score again. Chicago might have scored on a two-on-one rush up the ice as time was winding down, if it had not been for Steve Duchesne dropping to the ice to knock the puck away with the end of his outstretched stick, just before the final buzzer.
The Red Wings have made this the best twenty-five game start in franchise history, with a 20-3-1-1 record. They hope to extend their seven game unbeaten streak Tuesday night, when they host the Calgary Flames.