When a hockey writer can lead off with a glorious headline like that, why waste time trying to think up something clever? The Red Wings are starting to make up for lost time, scoring the goals that couldn’t get through the Hurricanes’ defensive trap before, and giving Carolina a taste of their own medicine by shutting them down to win Game Four 3-0 and bring a commanding 3-1 series lead home to Detroit.
The first period started just as it had in the three preceding games: tight checking and low in scoring chances. The Red Wings did have an early power play, but Carolina’s penalty killers were in fine form and did not allow the Wings to set up a scoring chance. Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe was tested by only four quality chances in the first twenty minutes, while Dominik Hasek at the other end of the rink had to deal with only three good Carolina scoring chances. The most notable of these happened just as the period was drawing to an end. Rookie Erik Cole dodged around Chris Chelios to go into the zone all by himself, but Hasek came way out of the net and dove towards Cole’s skates, stick outstretched, and took the puck away.
The Red Wings finally managed to open the scoring early in the third period. Freddy Olausson got around a Carolina defender and got the puck to Boyd Devereaux at the blue line. Devereaux squeezed past another defender and carried the puck up the right side, looking as if to shoot the whole way up, but instead he threaded a pass through to Brett Hull coming up the left wing side. Hull dropped to one knee and one-timed the shot off the goalpost and into the net.
The Red Wings dominated most of the game after that. Carolina’s best scoring chance came during a phantom high-sticking penalty to Luc Robitaille. Ron Francis had Hasek beaten, but his shot clanged off the post.
Igor Larionov added an insurance goal early in the third period. Tomas Holmstrom got the puck over to the left side boards in Carolina’s zone, then tied up the Carolina player going after it. Jiri Fischer took a few steps forward from the blue line to get to it. Fischer faked a shot, but instead passed to Larionov just at the right side of the net, uncovered. Larionov held the puck just long enough for everyone to realize what he was going to do, but not long enough that anyone could do anything about it, before flipping it into Irbe’s unguarded net.
Detroit really shut down the Hurricanes after that, lining up and preventing the puck from getting into their zone under Hurricane control. It was basically a game of keep-away, doing to Carolina what they have done to all the other teams in the playoffs. The Red Wings brought one final goal with 5:17 remaining to put the game away for good. Sergei Fedorov brought the puck across the blue line, with Brendan Shanahan following and heading for the net. Fedorov deked past Sean Hill and passed the puck between Hill’s legs, past Marek Malik, and to the outstretched stick of Shanahan. Shanahan made short work of that one, tipping the puck past Irbe for the goal.
Once again, the Red Wings outshot the Hurricanes, this time by a count of twenty-seven to seventeen. Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals will be Thursday evening back at Joe Louis Arena.
Brett Hull’s goal was his 100th career playoff goal. He is the fourth leading playoff goal scorer of all time, surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri…. Igor Larionov broke his own record set in Game Three. He is still the oldest player to have scored in a Stanley Cup Final, just two days older now….. Dominik Hasek also broke his own record, set in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals, with his sixth playoff shutout this year…. Finally, Scotty Bowman broke legendary coach Toe Blake’s record by winning his 35th Stanley Cup Finals game.