Joe Louis Arena hosted its first National Hockey League game in seventeen months on Monday, as the Detroit Red Wings opened their 2005 exhibition season with a 5-3 loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The difference between the hockey that used to be played at the Joe and that which will be played (for at least the first month of) this upcoming season was evident immediately. The NHL’s crackdown on obstruction led to 18 penalties and half a game’s worth of specialty teams play.
“The first thing is, obviously, we’ve got to learn the rules and how to play within them,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Because it’s hard to get any kind of momentum or any feel when you’re on the power play all the time or on the penalty kill. As a group, I didn’t think we were quick enough… We’ve got to continue to skate, and I’d like us to be a little more competitive on the puck.”
Detroit goalie Manny Legace allowed two goals on fifteen shots, one to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards and the other to Fredrik Modin. Rookie Jimmy Howard took over the crease for the third period and the shootout, allowing goals to Martin St. Louis and Evgeny Artyukhin on the first three shots he faced.
The Lighning scored an empty-net goal late in the third period to ice the game.
St. Louis and Richards scored for the Lightning in the shootout, while Jason Williams notched the Wings’ lone shootout tally.