The Red Wings gave Scotty Bowman a gift before leaving for the Olympic break: their 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild was Bowman’s 400th win as Detroit’s head coach.
The first period went quickly- there were few stoppages in play and only one penalty stop for a pair of offsetting roughing calls on Tomas Holmstrom and Jason Marshall. Both teams had quality scoring chances, but goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Dwayne Roloson kept the game scoreless.
Both the Red Wings and the Wild allowed shorthanded scoring chances during the few penalties in the second. The first goal of the game, though, came at even strength, with just over three minutes left in the second period. Luc Robitaille carried the puck low into the Minnesota zone and passed it behind the net to Steve Yzerman. Yzerman angled a pass in front of the net to Kirk Maltby, who slapped the puck past Roloson.
The Wild made very little attempt to outplay the Wings in the third, even though they were down by only one goal. Aside from some Minnesota breakaways notable only because of the great saves Hasek made to keep the puck out of the net, Detroit controlled the play.
The Red Wings put the game away with 2:38 left to play. Yzerman carried the puck from the left corner back towards the blue line, then sent a superb pass across the rink right to the stick of Mathieu Dandenault. Dandenault lifted the puck high and sent it into the net past Roloson.
Rather than risk the Wild pulling their goaltender and possibly sending the game to overtime with the aid of a sixth skater, the Red Wings kept tight control of the puck in center ice and in the Minnesota zone, and got the win to carry them into the Olympic break.
Shots on net were twenty-four to twenty-one in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ will resume the season on February 26, when they go to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A total of eleven players from Detroit’s active roster, along with one prospect, will be representing their teams in the Olympics: Chris Chelios and Brett Hull for the USA, Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan for Canada, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, and Pavel Datsyuk for Russia, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Freddy Olausson, as well as prospect Henrik Zetterberg (currently playing in the Swedish Elite League) for Sweden, and Dominik Hasek for the Czech Republic. This is more Olympians than any other team in the NHL.
Hasek’s fourth shutout of the season is the sixtieth of his career, making him the shutout leader among active goaltenders. Center Brent Gilchrist, placed on waivers to make room in the lineup for rookie Sean Avery, was taken today by the Dallas Stars. Manny Legace did not back up for this game due to a strained hip flexor; the backup goalie position was filled by Jason Elliott.