In terms of skating, passing, scoring chances, and intensity, it was the best game the Red Wings had played in quite some time. In terms of goaltending, it was?. not. Detroit lost 5-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, dropping to 0-2 in their quarterfinal series.
The Red Wings came out to start the first period with intensity. Scotty Bowman carefully matched up his top defensemen against Vancouver’s top forwards. They had two power play chances in the first ten minutes.
But the Canucks got the first goal. Brendan Morrison carried the puck into Detroit’s zone and shot it on net from the right wing side. Dominik Hasek bobbled the save, and Todd Bertuzzi was able to get to the net and tap it in, just past the midway point in the first period.
Vancouver padded their lead just over seven minutes into the second period. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski fired the puck from the blue line, and Andrew Cassels deflected it down past Hasek.
The crowd at Joe Louis Arena took matters into their own hands at that, chanting “Shoot the puck!” The Red Wings took that advice and ran with it. Pavel Datsyuk and Steve Yzerman carried the puck into the zone, and Brett Hull pressed to the net. Three Canucks cut off Yzerman’ passing lane to Hull, so without even looking, he passed it behind him to where he knew Nick Lidstrom would be coming up trailing the play. Lidstrom’s hard shot rattled into the net past Dan Cloutier.
The momentum shifted in the Red Wings’ favor on that hard-earned goal, but Vancouver took it back just moments later. Scott Lachance shot the puck in the general direction of the net from the blue line. The puck took an odd bounce off of Brett Hull’s leg and fluttered past Hasek.
The Red Wings continued their offensive pressure, keeping the Canucks on their heels through most of the third period. Yzerman brought Detroit back within one halfway through the third during a tripping penalty to Jovanovski. On a two on one rush deep in Vancouver’s zone, Yzerman carried the puck close to the net, waited for Cloutier to drop to block the expected low shot, then banked it in off of the goaltender’s hip.
The tides seemed to turn in Detroit’s favor at that point, but the Canucks got a lucky break with just under two minutes to play. Morrison, Bertuzzi, and Markus Naslund got away on a two-on-one rush, and Morrison left the drop pass for Naslund. Naslund’s shot cleanly beat Hasek high on the glove side.
The Red Wings didn’t give up– they gained an offensive zone faceoff, and Scotty Bowman pulled Hasek for the sixth skater. The attempt was useless, however, and Matt Cooke was able to send the puck down the ice into the empty net.
Detroit outplayed Vancouver throughout the entire game, outshooting the Canucks 36-20. Goaltending made the difference to give the Canucks the win.
The best-of-seven playoff series will move to Vancouver and resume on Sunday night.
This is the first time Vancouver has won back-to-back playoff games since May of 1994?. Some reminders for Wings fans: Be patient– two games does not make a series. Last year Detroit won the first two games of the quarterfinals, then gave up four straight to the Kings. They lost the first game of the quarterfinals in both 1997 and 1998, and we all know what happened in those years. We know that they have been up by three games and then lost the series, and been down by three games and come back to win. This is Hockeytown, and anything might happen.