DETROIT, Michigan -- The Red Wings themselves have reminded fans and reporters all season that the regular season means nothing- everything comes down to what happens in the playoffs. Hopefully they were right, as they did not end the regular season on the best of notes, going down 5-3 to the St. Louis Blues.
Dominik Hasek's game did not get off to the start he would have hoped: the Blues scored on their first shot of the game, less than a minute into the first period. Ray Ferraro flung the shot on net from the left wing side, and it bobbled off of Hasek's stick, under his arm, and into the net.
Detroit had three power play opportunities in the first period, but were unable to score until early in the second. Uwe Krupp got the puck away from the Blues and passed it up to Luc Robitaille, who got it to Sergei Fedorov flying up the right wing side. Fedorov released a quick wrist shot which flew into the net past goaltender Fred Brathwaite's outstretched glove.
The Red Wings ran into penalty trouble in the second, and St.Louis was able to score two power play goals. The first, during a slashing call to Chris Chelios, was scored by Pavol Demitra, who rushed towards the net, took the pass from Keith Tkachuk and wristed the puck past Hasek.
The next Blues goal came during a five-on-three situation resulting from overlapping penalties to Steve Duchesne and Boyd Devereaux. Scott Young fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom and into the net. Hasek, being screened by Tkachuk, had no chance to see the redirected shot.
The Red Wings came on harder offensively in the third period, and were rewarded with a shorthanded goal. Kris Draper kicked the puck away from the St. Louis defenseman at the blue line and took off down the ice all alone. He drew Brathwaite out of the net in one direction and immediately put the puck in the other way to bring the Wings within one.
Daniel Corso answered for the Blues less than a minute later. Hasek had come out of the net to clear the puck away, but it was intercepted and Corso got it behind the net and in on a wraparound shot before Hasek could get back into place.
The Red Wings continued to come on, and scored a power play goal with five and half minutes left in the third. Jason Williams took a blue line pass from Robitaille, and released a quick one-timer which went right through Brathwaite.
Unfortunately, the Blues put the game away for good on a controversial goal with less than two minutes to play. Hasek came behind the net to settle the puck for his defenseman, but he was knocked on his back by a St. Louis attacker, and Cory Stillman scored into the empty net.
Shots on net were twenty-eight to twenty-four in favor of the Blues. The Red Wings will begin the playoffs on either Wednesday or Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Notes: Steve Yzerman warmed up with the team before the game, but did not play so as to rest his knee for a few more days"¦. Sergei Fedorov, injured in the third period yesterday by an errant shot, showed no damage in precautionary x-rays and had no swelling.... The Red Wings' season record of 51-17-10-4 is their second best in team history.