The NHL’s 700 Goal Club just gained its newest member. Brett Hull‘s historic marker helped lead the Red Wings to their first win in seven games, a 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Detroit outshot San Jose in the first period, but the Sharks opened the scoring. Matt Bradley shot the puck on net, and Manny Legace made the stop, but Mark Smith picked up the rebound and put the puck in over the goalie.
San Jose regained their lead early in the second. Nicklas Lidstrom had been sent to the penalty box for obstruction tripping (never mind the fact that Legace had just been plowed over by a San Jose player who made no attempt to stop or turn), and Brad Stuart was able to one-time a Teemu Selanne pass just past Legace’s outstretched glove.
The Red Wings got their own power play chance later in the period- a rare five-on-three, with Vincent Damphousse and Dan McGillis both in the box. Sergei Fedorov won the draw back to Igor Larionov, who passed the puck to Lidstrom. Lidstrom then passed up to Brendan Shanahan near the net, and Shanahan scooped the puck in past Nabokov.
Damphousse came out of the box, and the Wings continued with a five-on-four. Then, just as the penalty to McGillis expired, hockey history occurred. Datsyuk made a pass from the high slot to a wide-open Hull on the left wing side, and Hull one-timed the puck on net in classic style. Nabokov never had a chance.
Owen Nolan scored to tie the game back up before the period was over, and the see-saw play continued into the third period.
Henrik Zetterberg regained Detroit’s lead early in the third. Hull made the pass as the two crossed into the Sharks’ zone, and Zetterberg cut in front of a defenseman to get to the net, then fired the shot in past the goalie. The Sharks came right back a few minutes later with a power play goal by Scott Thornton, and the tie continued through the third, with both teams getting scoring chances.
Finally, with just 2:37 left to play in regulation, Patrick Boileau broke the tie. Fedorov and Shanahan set up the passing play, and Boileau came in towards the right faceoff circle to get the puck and put it high past Nabokov’s stick side. “I’m only 698 behind,” Boileau said, laughing.
The final count of shots on net was 30-26 in favor of the Sharks. The Red Wings will have a couple of days to relax and celebrate Hull’s 700th goal before hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday evening.
Brett Hull wasn’t the only one relieved when he scored his big goal. Brendan Shanahan described the sense of relief by saying, “A piano came off his back and the back of the rest of the team.”…. Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717), and Mike Gartner (708) are the only other players to have scored over 700 goals. Heck, another few good seasons, and Hull could be sneaking up on Gordie Howe’s career total.