The Grind Line combined for a total of three goals, Jason Woolley impressed in his debut, and the Red Wings continued their climb out of the post-championship doldrums with a 5-0 victory over the uninspired Calgary Flames.
The Flames were awarded a power play to start the game, with Mathieu Dandenault send out for holding only 31 seconds in. The Calgary power play had some jump to it, but the Detroit penalty killers and Curtis Joseph were more than equal to the task.
Detroit was patient in getting its offensive play going. They made some excellent passing plays during their power play opportunities, but it was a drive-to-the net play which got them on the board late in the first. Rob Niedermayer was in the penalty box for high-sticking, and the Flames had managed to clear the puck down the ice. The Red Wings cycled back to get it. Brett Hull made a pass to Igor Larionov up the center, and Larionov charged towards the net. He faked to the left, fooling goaltender Jamie McLennan entirely, and brought the puck back around to stuff it in on the right.
Darren McCarty increased the Red Wings’ lead early in the second. Kirk Maltby took the puck from the right boards towards the net. He deked around a Calgary defender to send the short pass to McCarty, and McCarty rifled a shot past McLennan from close range.
Only 41 seconds later, Sergei Fedorov added a goal to move into first place in NHL scoring. Dmitri Bykov made a good play at the right point, moving in to keep the Flames from clearing the puck to center. The puck came free to Fedorov, and he wristed a shot past McLennan.
Calgary called a timeout then, and tried to get themselves back on track. Steve Begin decided to try to add some energy to his team by picking a fight with McCarty. It was a close fight, but Begin fell down first. The Flames came on strong in the last ten minutes of the period, taking advantage of a temporarily relaxed Red Wings defense, but Joseph managed to stop all the shots that got through to him.
The third period belonged once again to the Red Wings. Calgary seemed to have given up, for the most part, and the Grind Line was prepared to use that to their advantage. Maltby scored his first even strength goal of the year by slapping in a one-time shot on a McCarty pass from across the Flames’ zone.
Kris Draper didn’t want his linemates to have all the fun, so he added a goal of his own with 3:54 left in the game. Brett Hull brought the puck across the blue line and passed it up to Maltby. Maltby headed towards the net, but dropped the pass back to Draper, and Draper put it high into the net.
Joseph stopped all 29 of the shots he faced, for his second shutout of the season. The first shutout was also against the Flames. McLennan made 30 saves on 35 shots.
The Red Wings will continue their western trip with a Friday night game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle, who caused more than a few problems for Detroit when they were with Colorado, don’t seem to be nearly so troublesome with the Flames. Yelle was a game-low “”4 with only one shot on net, and Drury had no shots at all…. Jason Woolley paired with Dmitri Bykov for his first game. The pairing seemed to work nicely: they each had a rating of +3…. Brendan Shanahan did not travel with the team, opting instead to remain home with his pregnant wife because their twins are due to be born any day.