The Red Wings look to be getting back to their old selves, shaking off a goal-scoring drought to bring down the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1.
Brett Hull managed to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to bring the Red Wings’ scoring drought to an end. Goalie Dan Cloutier came behind the net to clear the puck, but it bounced away from him, straight to Hull’s stick. Stuffing the puck into the empty net was a simple task for a goal-scorer like Hull.
The Red Wings managed to play both strong offense and strong defense throughout the first period, firing a total of twelve shots against Cloutier and holding the Canucks to only six shots against Dominik Hasek.
The Canucks tried to come back hard in the second- midway through the period, the shots on goal were eight to three in their favor. Hasek was equal to the task, and Detroit’s offense became inspired. Steve Yzerman set up a pass to Boyd Devereaux behind the net. The pass was intercepted by Ed Jovanovski, but Devereaux was right there to take back the puck and send it flying into the net with 3:24 left in the period.
Within the space of forty-four seconds, Yzerman carried the puck up the right wing side and passed across to Chris Chelios flying up the center unguarded. Chelios had a clear shot and backhanded the puck right past Cloutier.
Vancouver had a minute of five-on-three power play time with which to end the period, during penalties to Chelios and Mathieu Dandenault, but Detroit’s penalty-killers stayed in a tight triangle by the net and poked away any shots which threatened to get through to Hasek.
The Canucks did manage to get on the board 1:20 into the third period. Jason Strudwick fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the puck deflected off of Kirk Maltby‘s left skate. That changed its direction just enough that Hasek was unable to block, and the score was 3-1.
The Red Wings weren’t done yet. Kris Draper passed the puck up ice to Sergei Fedorov, who fooled Cloutier into coming towards him. Fedorov then passed across to Brendan Shanahan, who had plenty of room to flip the puck into the net and score his first goal in ten games with 8:54 left to play.
After Shanahan’s goal, the Red Wings shut down Vancouver’s offense, and improved their season record to 24-8-2-1.
Hasek stopped twenty-three out of twenty-four shots. Cloutier was able to stop twenty-six of the thirty he faced. Neither team scored on the power play.
The Red Wings will play again Friday night when they host the surging San Jose Sharks.