The Detroit Red Wings bounced back from a five-game road trip in which they won only one game and earned only four of a possible ten points with a 5-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. The win lifted the Wings’ record to 19-4-2 at home this season.
Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph was spectacular early on as the Red Wings killed off a New Jersey 5-on-3 in the opening minutes of the game. The Wings gained momentum with the successful penalty kill and struck first, scoring the game’s first goal with 8:59 remaining in the period.
Henrik Zetterberg won an offensive zone faceoff against former Red Wing Igor Larionov and got the puck back to Jamie Rivers. Rivers fired a hard shot from the blue line that surprised Devils’ netminder Martin Brodeur and found its way into the net.
Just 2:47 later, the Devils responded. Erik Rasmussen picked up the puck in the New Jersey zone and outraced Jason Woolley down the left side of the ice. He gained the Detroit blue line and fired a shot through Joseph’s pads. The goal was a soft one for Joseph to give up, but his teammates would bail him out.
Mathieu Schneider scored his fifth goal in five games 2:16 after the Rasmussen goal as Detroit was on the power play. Tomas Holmstrom carried the puck over the New Jersey blue line and fed it off to Brendan Shanahan at the right-side half-boards. Shanahan sent a pass to the streaking Schneider who one-timed a shot by Brodeur to put the Red Wings back out in front.
Brett Hull put the Wings up by two early in the second. Just 46 seconds in to the period, he took a pass at the right faceoff circle from Steve Thomas, spun around a defender, and deflected a shot off Brodeur’s shoulder, off the crossbar, and into the net.
Within three minutes, Turner Stevenson had the Devils back within one. At 3:31, Stevenson took at pass from Jeff Friesen and put a one-timer from the middle of the Wings’ zone past Joseph.
Detroit didn’t regain their two-goal lead until almost midway through the third period. At 8:30 of the period, Holmstrom scored on just the Wings’ second power play attempt of the game. Schneider fired a shot from the point and the Brodeur let the rebound slip away from him. Holmstrom picked up the puck with his back to the crease and spun around, flipping a shot past Brodeur’s outstretched pad.
Kris Draper added a shorthanded, empty-net insurance goal with 1:02 remaining in the game. Draper picked up a loose puck in the high slot in the Detroit zone, skated with it to the blue line, and fired a long shot into the vacant New Jersey net.
Detroit’s special teams were perfect for the game, with the power play converting on both opportunities and the penalty kill successfully defending against seven New Jersey attempts with the extra attacker.
Joseph stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings, a far cry from his last appearance in net, where he allowed four goals on eight shots in two periods against the Phoenix Coyotes. Brodeur made 15 saves on 19 shots against for the Devils.
The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Joe Louis Arena. Detroit defeated the Hurricanes, 4-1, in their previous meeting this season.
Detroit forward Steve Thomas left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. He did not return.