Shaping Up the Western Conference

In spite of a much stronger game than the Red Wings have played since clinching the President's Trophy, a few errors in judgment allowed the St. Louis Blues to get by and win 3-2 in overtime.

The Red Wings opened the scoring early in the first period. Chris Chelios fired a hard shot from the blue line, and Brett Hull got the blade of his stick down to the ice to redirect the puck into the net past goaltender Brent Johnson.

The Blues came back to tie a few moments later. The puck slipped away from the Red Wings, and Dallas Drake was able to pick it up and go in all alone against Dominik Hasek. Drake released the shot quickly, before Hasek could set himself, and the puck rattled into the net.

Detroit regained the lead near the end of the first period on a power play resulting from a holding penalty to Ray Ferraro. Igor Larionov played the puck from behind the net out front to Pavel Datsyuk. The rebound from Datsyuk's shot came free to Jason Williams, who scooped the puck in behind Johnson.

The Blues tied the game back up midway through the second period. Hasek came out of the net to clear the puck away, but the clearing pass was intercepted by Keith Tkachuk, who quickly centered the puck to be tapped into the net by Pavol Demitra.

Both teams tightened up after this, neither one willing to open up the offense and risk making a mistake which could lead to an opposing goal. Detroit got control of the puck in the St. Louis zone at the very end of the third period, but Johnson was ready and able to stop the shots the Wings threw towards him, sending the game to overtime.

Chris Pronger gave the Blues their game winning goal with just over a minute left to play in the overtime period. Hasek stepped out of the net again, this time apparently to take a shove at Doug Weight, and Pronger's shot went right into the empty net.

Each team took twenty-five shots on goal. The Wings were one for four on the power play, while the Blues did not manage to convert on any of their three power play attempts. The Red Wings will close out their regular season tomorrow afternoon when the Blues come to close out the home-and-home series.


Notes: Sergei Fedorov appeared to be injured in the third period when a shot fired towards the net struck him just above the ankle. He was putting some weight on it as he left the ice, but did not return to the game... The Blues' win today means that they can finish no lower than sixth place in the Western Conference standings... A loss tonight by the Vancouver Canucks will make them the eighth place team and the Red Wings' first round opponents.

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