Very often after a big win, the victorious team will come out playing flat, uninspired hockey for their next game. The was the case for the Red Wings after their Tuesday night 5-0 rout of the Flames, and the Vancouver Canucks were the beneficiaries, winning 4-1.
The Canucks got their scoring going early in the game. Trevor Letowski took a shot on net from the right boards, and Curtis Joseph left a large rebound. Matt Cooke came in from the left, scooped up the rebound, and put it into the net before Joseph could get over.
The Red Wings spent unfortunately placed two-minute chunks of the rest of the period killing off penalties. Darren McCarty took two calls right in a row, and Jesse Wallin was then sent to the box for hooking with 5:24 remaining. With just four seconds remaining in that penalty, Markus Naslund increased the Canucks’ lead to two by slapping in a pass by Brendan Morrison from behind the net.
Breakdowns in defensive communication led to the two Vancouver goals in the second period. Jarkko Ruutu was allowed to make a pass which sprang Trent Klatt on a partial breakaway, and Klatt’s hard shot went in over Joseph’s shoulder. A few minutes later, a mix-up between Kris Draper and Dmitri Bykov at the Vancouver blue line allowed Todd Bertuzzi to steal the puck and get out on a full breakaway. This shot also went high past Joseph, and coach Dave Lewis decided it was time to rescue his goalie. Manny Legace came in to take Joseph’s place.
The Canucks forced Legace to make a few very good saves early on, but then they sat back a little. The Red Wings found their offensive momentum too late in the game. Brett Hull scored a power play goal by one-timing in a good pass from Luc Robitaille, and Detroit used the energy from that goal to sustain some pressure in the Vancouver zone, but goaltender Dan Cloutier was not about to let them stage a comeback at that late point in the game.
The final shots on net were 29 to 23 in favor of Vancouver. Joseph made 14 saves on 18 shots before being pulled. Legace stopped all 11 of the shots he faced.
The Red Wings will close out their western road trip Saturday night with the first game of a home-and-home against the Edmonton Oilers, who have an 8-8-3-1 record for the season and a 3-4-2-0 record when playing at home.
Markus Naslund’s goal moved him to sole possessor of first place in NHL goals for the season, with 13…. Manny Legace has played enough minutes at this point to qualify as a league leader in stats. Going into this game, he had first place in both save percentage (.983) and goals against average (1.79).