NEW YORK, New York -- Darren McCarty made his presence known in a big way, in his first game back from finger surgery, scoring the game-winning goal to put the Red Wings over the New York Rangers, 5-3 at Madison Square Garden.
The Red Wings started off strong in the first period, opening the scoring 6:43 into the game. The Rangers' Theoren Fleury attempted to clear the puck out of his zone, but Sergei Fedorov knocked it down from midair, and Chris Chelios put it past goalie Mike Richter, off the post and into the net.
The Rangers came back less than a minute later. Petr Nedved carried the puck around the net and fired high, and Michal Grosek redirected it past Dominik Hasek with the tip of his stick.
New York used their momentum from Grosek's goal to pressure the Wings and take the lead a few minutes later. Matthew Barnaby fired the original shot on Hasek, and Roman Lyashenko got the rebound into the net for his first goal of this season.
The Rangers took a string of penalties early in the second period, and the Red Wings were able to take advantage of this during a cross-checking penalty to Dave Karpa. Fedorov slid the puck along the blue line to Nick Lidstrom, who fired on net. Brett Hull, waiting in front of Richter, redirected the puck in midair and into the net.
Detroit regained the lead during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting slashing penalties to Sean Avery and Vladimir Malakhov. Chelios got the puck to Jiri Fischer at the left wing side. Fischer had plenty of room to maneuver, but took only two strides forward before firing a hard shot on net. Two strides were all he needed, as the puck went through Richter's armpit and into the net.
The penalties began to go in New York's favor then, and they were able to tie the game during a high-sticking double minor to Max Kuznetsov. Former Michigan State Spartan Mike York passed to Eric Lindros from behind the net, and Lindros fired on Hasek from a very sharp angle. The puck bounced off the stick of Fischer and into the net.
Both teams played in a more laid back style through the third period, each waiting for the other to make a mistake. New York finally slipped up near the end of the game. Fedorov won the faceoff in New York's zone, and got the puck back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom fired, and Richter left a huge rebound for Darren McCarty to grab up and scoop into the net.
The Rangers pulled Richter for a sixth skater with just under a minute to play, but Brendan Shanahan got the puck out of the zone and up to speeding Fedorov, who ducked around a hard hit from Fleury and put the puck into the empty net.
Shots on net were thirty-five to twenty-six in Detroit's favor. The Red Wings' next game will be at home Tuesday night against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Notes: Steve Yzerman suffered a setback in his knee recovery, and plans to seek a second opinion from a favored doctor in Birmingham, Alabama. Team spokespeople say that the delay in Yzerman's return to the lineup will be a week at most..... Point of interest: If the playoffs were to start today, the Red Wings would be facing their old rivals the Dallas Stars in the very first round.