The Red Wings regrouped quickly after last night’s loss to the Canucks. They outplayed the Edmonton Oilers for much of tonight’s game, but excellent goaltending caused the game to end up as a 1-1 tie.
Dave Lewis thought to shake up the team slightly by putting in feisty Sean Avery in place of Jason Williams, and, of course, by changing the forward line combinations. It worked nicely. The Red Wings skated better, passed better, and created more scoring chances, causing goalie Tommy Salo to have to work hard and scramble to keep the puck out of the net. At the other end of the ice, Curtis Joseph seemed to have shaken off last night’s loss without a problem, making several dazzling saves to keep the Oilers off the board.
Another benefit for both Detroit and Edmonton was the relative lack of penalties. Detroit was able to rotate its full complement of players on and off the ice without having to overwork some and leave others sitting on the bench for long penalty-killing shifts. The Oilers’ strong, quick skaters used the flow of the game to their advantage, and the result was an entertaining game.
The Red Wings finally opened the scoring late in the second period. Sergei Fedorov banked the puck off the boards to clear it from the Detroit zone, springing Brett Hull and Igor Larionov loose on a 2-on-1 rush. Hull carried the puck up the left side and fired a wrist shot which bounced off the goal post and into the net behind Salo.
The Oilers countered with only four seconds remaining in the second period. Joseph stopped a low shot by Janne Niinimaa with the tip of his catching glove, but the puck slid free. Todd Marchant and Shawn Horcoff had both followed the play to the front of the net. It was hard to tell at first which of those two tapped the puck in for the goal, but replay showed that it was Marchant.
Both teams continued to play well and create scoring chances in the third period and the overtime, but the goaltenders were determined not to allow any more goals, thus ending the game in a 1-1 tie.
The final shots on net were 37-27 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings and Oilers will play the second game of their home-and-home series Monday night at the Joe.
Nicklas Lidstrom led the team in ice time as usual, putting in an impressive 32:37. Sergei Fedorov led the forwards, with 28:13. The Grind Line was rewarded with more ice time for their recent quality play. Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty each played more than 15 minutes, and Kris Draper, who gets extra time because of his penalty-killing role, played over 18 minutes…. Brendan Shanahan became the father of twins, a boy and a girl, this afternoon. The mother and babies are reported to be doing well.