It would be ironic to think that two of the three highest scoring teams in the NHL would end up in a 1-1 tie in their only meeting of the season, but that’s exactly what the Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning did. The defensive trap can’t be blamed for this one since both teams disdain that system; give credit, rather, to stingy goaltending by Manny Legace and Nikolai Khabibulin.
Legace had to be sharp right away, when Chris Chelios stumbled and Vincent Lecavalier brought the puck in alone on a breakaway. Not only was Legace ready for Lecavalier’s low shot, but he made two more excellent saves on Lecavalier before the first period was done. At the other end of the rink, Khabibulin had his hands full knocking down shots by Brett Hull and Ray Whitney.
Legace kept Detroit in the game through the second period by flopping to stop Ruslan Fedotenko from point blank range during a Lightning power play, then following up with a big save against Brad Richards on a clean breakaway.
Tomas Holmstrom was the Wing to finally break the scoreless tie. Steve Yzerman made the rink-wide pass to Holmstrom as he skated across the blue line. Holmstrom squeezed in between Lightning defenders Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich, then beat Khabibulin high on the glove side as he was being pulled down to the ice, with 4:41 left in the second.
The superb goaltending continued into the third period. Legace made a glove save against the initial shot from a 3-on-1 rush, then stopped two rebounds with the side of his body before being able to cover the puck.
Tampa Bay finally ended Legace’s shutout bid with 7:21 left in regulation. Richards’ shot from the blue line bounced off the stick of Cory Stillman right in front of the goal crease, and Fredrik Modin was able to bang it into the net.
Lecavalier did his level best to end the game in regulation, but Legace stoned him cold again, stopping two quality shots against the big forward in the final minute of the third period. Khabibulin sent the game to overtime with a glove save on a Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the blue line.
The goalies dominated the overtime, just as they had dominated the entire game, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. Legace made 37 saves on the 38 shots he faced. Khabibulin stopped 28 shots out of 29.
The Red Wings’ next game will be Thursday night, when they travel to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.
Robert Lang left the game with an upper body injury in the third period and did not return. Team spokespeople said Lang would be out at least through Thursday’s game”¦. The Lightning clinched the top spot in the Southeast Division with the point they earned tonight”¦. The Red Wings have killed off 31 straight penalties, denying their opponents any power play goals for the past 8 games.