The law of averages finally caught up with the Red Wings. They dominated the St. Louis Blues last season, winning all five of their regular season matches, so it was obvious that the Blues would do whatever they could to break that streak, in spite of injuries to key defensemen Al MacInnis and Barret Jackman. The defense had some holes in it, but former Wing Chris Osgood played a very good game, stopping 45 of 50 shots, to give the Blues a 6-5 win over Detroit.
St. Louis came out ready to play a tough, physical game, forechecking hard and driving players into the end boards. The Wings showed they could match that physical intensity when Jiri Fischer knocked Scott Mellanby down in front of Dominik Hasek‘s net. It was a clean hit, but Mellanby, just returned from a rib injury, left the game and did not return. Shortly thereafter, Fischer stepped in on tough guy Mike Danton, who had been harassing Chris Chelios. Most of the Blues’ checking was clean after that.
Keith Tkachuk opened the scoring for St. Louis just six seconds into the Blues’ first power play of the game by jamming in a rebound from Chris Pronger‘s shot from the blue line. Pavel Datsyuk tied the game up for Detroit with eight minutes left in the first period, but Doug Weight regained the lead for the Blues just 22 seconds later. A rebound from Mark Rycroft’s shot bounced off the side of Weight’s skate and past Hasek.
Weight added his second goal of the night with 32 seconds left in the first. His shot from the right side of the ice looked fairly harmless, but the puck beat Hasek on the stick side.
Steve Yzerman scored a goal from a tidy backhand pass by Ray Whitney early in the second period, but Peter Sejna increased the Blues’ lead again with a shot that beat Hasek through the five-hole. Manny Legace came in to take Hasek’s place after that.
The goalie switch got Detroit’s offense going, as coach Dave Lewis no doubt intended. Boyd Devereaux scored his first goal of the year on a wraparound try, and Kirk Maltby took a shot which deflected off of Kris Draper for a shorthanded goal to tie the game at four goals apiece.
The Blues moved into the lead for good, however, before that power play was over. Legace made three saves in quick succession, leaving him prone on the ice, but the clearing pass bounced off of Nicklas Lidstrom instead of sailing safely into the corner. Sejna picked it up and flipped it over Legace’s skates before the goaltender could get back up.
Weight scored his hat trick goal early in the third period on a rebound from a shot by Dallas Drake. The Red Wings turned up the offensive pressure after that, taking 25 shots against Osgood in the third period alone, but they weren’t able to score again until the game was almost over. Danton was in the penalty box for holding, and Legace left the net so the Wings could have six skaters against four. Lidstrom made a nice pass along the blue line for Brett Hull, and Hull one-timed the shot into the net in classic style with 1:10 left to play.
The pressure was on in the last minute, but Osgood stood his ground, gaining his first win against his old team.
Shots totaled 50 to 34 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings play next tomorrow night, facing the Nashville Predators in the first game of a four game road trip.
Weight’s hat trick was the second of his career…. Jiri Hudler got his first NHL point by assisting on Devereaux’s goal…. Hull’s goal was the 718th of his career, moving him past Phil Esposito into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL all-time goal scorers list.