The Red Wings’ recent problems against spoiler teams unable to make the playoffs were eradicated tonight, with their high-energy 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
The first goal of the game came during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting roughing calls to Darren McCarty and Chris Tamer. The Thrashers got a breakaway on Manny Legace, but Legace made the save and set up a three-on-two for his teammates. Igor Larionov, Jiri Slegr, and Brett Hull carried the puck down the ice. Some crisp passing got the puck to Hull in the Thrashers zone, and he paused just long enough to fake out goaltender Frederic Cassivi before snapping a low wrist shot into the net.
The Thrashers had two power play chances in the first period, but just as they had done all period, the Red Wings kept the puck away from Atlanta for the most part, and kept the Thrashers from making any passes to get a scoring play set up. Legace only had to face five shots in the first period, compared to the twelve that Cassivi faced.
The second period continued with the same Detroit intensity the Wings had shown in the first, leaving Atlanta scrambling to get any time controlling the puck. Mathieu Dandenault posted the Red Wings’ second tally of the night during a high-sticking double minor penalty to Yannick Tremblay. Dandenault skated up a clear path from the blue line down the middle, took Larionov’s pass from behind the net, and tapped it past Cassivi for his eighth goal of the season.
Atlanta ran into more penalty trouble when Tremblay was sent back to the box for hooking a moment later. Sergei Fedorov won the faceoff, and slipped the puck back to Hull. Hull’s first shot bounced off of Tomas Holmstrom and straight back to Hull, who wrested the second shot high and into the net. The entire power play lasted five seconds.
Atlanta tried to play with more intensity in the third period, and they were rewarded with a goal two and a half minutes in. Legace flopped down low to block Tomi Callio’s original shot, but J.P. Vigier was able to get the puck and flip it in high before Legace could return to his position.
The Red Wings answered with another goal of their own a few minutes later. Larionov made a good pass to Dandenault, who fired on net from the right wing side. The puck bounced off the leg of Jason Williams and into the net.
A fight broke out in the final minutes, when Francis Lessard attacked Chris Chelios, and McCarty followed up on Lessard. The resulting penalties- a slashing to McCarty, a roughing to Chelios, and one of each to Lessard- offset each other and did not put either team on the power play.
The final count of shots on net was thirty-two to twenty-two in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings were three for six on the power play and kept Atlanta from scoring on any of their four power play chances. The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Brendan Shanahan and Nick Lidstrom sat out tonight’s game to rest minor injuries. Scotty Bowman plans to rest Lidstrom by leaving him home during next week’s West Coast road trip”¦.. The team is planning on having Uwe Krupp return to the lineup sometime during that California trip”¦.. The Atlanta Thrashers have not once beaten the Red Wings in their three seasons of existence.