DETROIT, Michigan -- The Red Wings' power play got the new year off to a good start, despite third period defensive lapses, by defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, 5-3.
The Ducks started out the game trying to keep in a tight defensive trap, but it was not enough to stop the Red Wings' offense in the first period. Oleg Tverdovsky started Anaheim's troubles by picking up a penalty for holding 3:13 into the game. He barely had time to sit down in the penalty box before Luc Robitaille picked up the rebound from Igor Larionov's shot on net and sent it in behind goaltender Steve Shields.
The Wings scored their second of the night on another power play, this one resulting from a tripping call on Keith Carney. Pavel Datsyuk fished the puck out from a tangle of Anaheim players in the right corner and put a centering pass out front for Brendan Shanahan, who had been left wide open. Shields dropped down to block before the shot was fired, and Shanahan sent it over Shields into the top corner of the net.
The Red Wings' power play scored again before the end of the period. Jason York was given a roughing call for a hard hit on Darren McCarty with eighteen seconds left, and Shanahan scored his second goal of the night by firing in the rebound from Nick Lidstrom's shot.
The Ducks didn't change up their play in the second period, and the Red Wings stayed on the offensive. Robitaille got the puck along the left boards, and passed to Sergei Fedorov, speeding up center to join the play from his defensive position. Fedorov faked left and put the puck into the right side of the net.
That was all Shields and the Anaheim bench could take, and they called him out to be replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Anaheim got a lucky break late in the period, when Samuel Pahlsson was able to score against Dominik Hasek on a short-handed breakaway. The Mighty Ducks took that momentum and translated it into energy for the third period.
Tverdovsky scored by shooting from the right point while Hasek was screened from seeing the puck, 3:19 into the third.
Anaheim continued to pressure the Red Wings, who seemed to lose energy even as the Ducks gained it, and brought the game within one point with just under four minutes left to play. A confused tangle of Anaheim offense and Detroit defense surrounded the net in front of Hasek on a delayed penalty to the Wings, and the Ducks kept whacking at the puck until Marc Chouinard finally poked it into the net.
Luck was with the Red Wings, however, when Jeff Friesen was sent to the penalty box for roughing with 2:37 remaining. Steve Yzerman, playing his first game back after a foot injury, stole the puck from Pavel Trnka in front of the Anaheim net and passed neatly to Mathieu Dandenault, coming up the right wing side. Dandenault fired, and the puck fluttered into the net behind Giguere to lock up the Red Wings twenty-ninth win of the season.
Hasek stopped twenty-six of the twenty-nine shots he faced, while Shields stopped only nine of thirteen before being pulled. Giguere stopped fourteen shots out of fifteen.
The Red Wings play next on Saturday afternoon, when their arch-nemesis, the Colorado Avalanche, comes to play at the Joe.