The Detroit Red Wings kicked off a three game road trip with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night. The loss was Chicago’s first in regulation under new head coach Denis Savard.
The Red Wings weathered constant pressure from the Blackhawks, a team invigorated by the recent return of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Martin Havlat from injury. Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek made 29 saves on 31 shots in one of his more impressive outings of the season.
Henrik Zetterberg got the Red Wings on the board just 3:57 into the game, pounding a shot between Khabibulin’s pads off a spinning behind-the-back pass from Pavel Datsyuk. Khabibulin appeared to have made the save until the puck trickled through and crossed the goal line.
The Blackhawks pulled even with 9:16 remaining in the second period, capitalizing on a giveaway by Robert Lang.
Lang attempted to clear the zone with a cross-ice pass but it was picked off by Jim Vandermeer, who passed up to Jeff Hamilton, in all alone on Hasek with Patrick Sharp. Hamilton passed to Sharp and Hasek went down to make the stop, but Sharp passed back off to Hamilton, who had a wide open net.
Only 1:54 later, Lang helped make up for his miscue with an assist on the Dan Cleary goal that put Detroit back out in front.
Coming out of the Detroit zone, Cleary got the puck to Lang, who gave it back when Cleary made it to the left faceoff circle in the Chicago zone. Before Khabibulin could get set, Cleary put a quick shot off the far post and into the net.
The Red Wings extended their lead with a power play goal with 8:24 remaining in regulation. After a series of passes left the Blackhawks scrambling but the Wings unable to shoot, Mathieu Schneider got the puck to Mikael Samuelsson in the right circle for a heavy shot over Khabibulin’s shoulder.
A rare miscue by Nicklas Lidstrom 2:14 later allowed Tuomo Ruutu to pull Chicago back within one. In front of the Detroit goal, the puck got caught in Lidstrom’s skates and his attempt to corral it went straight to Ruutu, who whipped a shot past Hasek.
Detroit fended off a late Chicago power play and one minute of 6-on-5 with the Blackhawks’ net empty to preserve the win.
Khabibulin finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots.
Detroit was 1-for-3 on the power play while Chicago was held without a goal on five power play chances.
The Red Wings continue their road trip on Saturday when they visit the New Jersey Devils for an afternoon game.
Tomas Kopecky left the game early in the third period after crashing awkwardly into the boards. Initial reports indicate that he suffered a broken collarbone.