DENVER, Colorado -- A milestone goal, an octopus, an epic brawl, and sewing up the Western Conference lead all in the same game..... It must be getting near playoff time! The Red Wings and Avalanche showed the world that their bitter rivalry is far from dead, as the Wings posted a 2-0 victory.
The first two periods went by mildly enough as the teams felt out each other's defenses. Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy kept the puck out of their nets, in spite of power plays and scoring chances for both teams. The Red Wings and Avalanche looked to be fairly equal in goaltending, defense, and offense.
It was in the third period that the game became interesting. Detroit gained over a minute of five-on-three power play opportunity on penalties to Alex Tanguay and Adam Foote, and they were able to take the advantage. Nick Lidstrom passed from the right point to Brendan Shanahan at his usual position on the left wing side, and Shanahan sent off a laser-guided one-time shot that ripped past Roy and into the back of the net, finally scoring his 500th career goal after an eight game goal slump. A Detroit fan in the crowd saluted Shanahan in traditional style, tossing a slimy octopus onto the ice for the Pepsi Center rink staff to clean up.
Shortly thereafter, Martin Skoula dumped Kirk Maltby into Roy's net, and Roy decided he wanted to fight. Maltby was surprised, but perfectly willing to take the gloves off and throw a few punches. That set off a fight between Sean Avery and Pascal Trepanier in the corner, leaving Trepanier's lip bruised and bleeding. Finally, everyone on the ice was drawn into the fight, including Hasek, who came all the way from the other end of the rink, dropping gloves and equipment on his way to stick up for the rest of his team. He wound up stepping on his own goal stick and falling, bowling Roy over rather than fighting, but the officials had to keep the two separated while they shouted insults at each other.
The resulting penalty tangle gave Colorado a power play, but Hasek and the penalty killing unit regained their focus with a quickness, giving the Avalanche no chance to score.
Boyd Devereaux gave the Red Wings an insurance goal with just under seven minutes left to play. Brett Hull took a blue line pass from Lidstrom and fired on goal, and Devereaux got just enough contact with the puck to put it into Roy's net.
The Red Wings ran into trouble at the end of the period. Darren McCarty was sent to the penalty box for hooking, and during the Avalanche power play, Mike Keane purposely fell on Hasek. Chris Chelios took exception to this, and cross-checked Keane in the back. Several times. Finally, the referees called the penalty on Chelios, and when the defenseman argued back, he was given another two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as a game misconduct.
This would have put the Red Wings shorthanded for the remainder of the game, over four minutes, had Radim Vrbata not been penalized for high-sticking Kris Draper a few seconds later. Colorado had nearly two minutes of power play time left when the four-on-four was over, and they pulled Roy from the net to gain a six-on-four advantage. Hasek stayed sharp, however, and the Avalanche left the game scoreless.
Roy stopped twenty-four of twenty-six shots over the course of the game, and Hasek stopped all thirty-one of the shots the Avalanche fired on his net, moving him into sole first place as the shutout leader among active goaltenders and putting him three wins away from Terry Sawchuk's all-time franchise record for most wins in one season.
The Red Wings' next game will be Monday night against the Nashville Predators.
Notes: Today's win guaranteed the Red Wings the top spot in the Western Conference. One more loss or two more ties by the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, and the Red Wings will have earned the President's Trophy for most points in a season... Brendan Shanahan is in good company, scoring his 500th career goal against Patrick Roy "" Steve Yzerman did the same thing, 158 goals ago.