After a false start, the Red Wings regained their intensity and defeated Original Six rivals the New York Rangers 3-1 in the first of their two meetings this season.
Neat and tidy passing was a key in letting the Rangers sneak through a few holes in the Red Wings’ defense during the first period. The “Fly Line” of Eric Lindros, Mike York, and Theo Fleury was especially skilled at this, managing to take several shots on goal. Dominek Hasek rose to the occasion and used his acrobatic play to keep the puck out of the net.
After the first few minutes, the Red Wings re-found their rhythm and took the play to the New York end, creating scoring chances against goalie Mike Richter. Richter made a few tricky saves, showing why he was chosen as the netminder for the US Olympic team. Detroit finally got the puck past him with four and a half minutes left in the period.
Sergei Fedorov stretched out to keep the Rangers from clearing the puck out of the zone and passed it up to Brendan Shanahan, who sent the puck across the goal crease. Amidst the tangle of bodies in front of Richter, Steve Duchesne knocked it down so that Kris Draper could chip it up into the net.
Detroit continued their dominating play through the second period, outshooting the Rangers by a considerable margin. The Red Wings extended their lead by a goal late in the second. Chris Chelios gently poke checked the puck across the blue line away from a New York defenseman, and Darren McCarty brought it back in barely onside. He threaded a pass between some Rangers to Brent Gilchrist, flying up the left wing side. With a well-aimed wrist shot, Gilchrist put the puck past Richter and scored his first goal since October 25, 2000, ending a sixty-eight game slump.
The Rangers got their only power play of the game fourteen minutes into the third period when Igor Larionov was sent to the box for holding. Mark Messier fired on net from the right side. The puck deflected off the stick of Chelios, and Hasek couldn’t see it to stop it.
New York greatly increased the pressure after Messier’s goal gave them some momentum, and the Red Wings were hard pressed to contain them. Even so, the defensemen worked hard, and Hasek worked hard, and the puck stayed out of the net.
The Rangers were unable to pull Richter from net for the extra skater in the last minute, as the Red Wings regained control and headed up the ice. Chelios dumped the puck deep into the New York zone, and it bounced off a stanchion and straight to Draper coming in on the left side. Draper passed straight across to Fedorov, who snapped the puck into the net and put the game away.
Hasek stopped a total of twenty-six shots throughout the game, while Richter stopped thirty-two. The Red Wings will host the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night before heading out on a three-game road trip before the Olympic break.
After Friday, the Red Wings will not play another game at the Joe until March 6.