ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- For the first time in this series, the team to get the first goal did not win the game. St. Louis scored early, the Wings answered quickly and frequently, and the Blues did not score again until it was too late. The Red Wings took a 4-3 win over the Blues and come home leading the series 3-1.
St. Louis managed to open the scoring by gaining a minute and forty second's worth of five-on-three play from penalties to Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Chelios. Steve Yzerman, Kirk Maltby, and Nick Lidstrom did a good job keeping the puck away from Dominik Hasek's net, clearing the puck and making the Blues chase it down to the other end of the rink twice and killing off all but thirteen seconds of the five-on-three. As the chance wound down, Chris Pronger passed the puck across to Scott Young, who sent a one-time shot into the net.
The Red Wings settled the play down and took control with the help of some power plays of their own. They were not able to score against goaltender Brent Johnson, but they were aided some by an injury to Pronger. The big defenseman tried to take a run at Yzerman, but Yzerman saw it coming, turned around, and bent down so that Pronger bounced off him and dropped to the ice. The Wings had the Blues penned in their own zone, so Pronger couldn't get back to the bench until he got called on a penalty of his own, for taking a retaliatory slash at Yzerman. Pronger did not return for the rest of the game.
Detroit got on the board at even strength. Darren McCarty carried the puck into the left wing corner. He was being harrassed by Bryce Salvador, but still managed to make a centering pass which Brendan Shanahan picked up and wristed high into the net.
Jiri Fischer gave the Wings a lead just a few minutes later. Datsyuk and Brett Hull tangled with some Blues defenders behind the net, and the puck came loose all the way to Fischer near the blue line. The shot sailed through a screen and seemingly dropped on its way to the net, fooling Johnson for the goal.
The Red Wings scored once again early in the second period. Mathieu Dandenault carried the puck up the right wing side, faked a shot, and passed across the goal crease to Tomas Holmstrom, who tapped the puck into the gaping net.
Detroit dominated most of the second period, keeping control and playing an intelligent defense. The Blues did come on a little more strongly towards the end of the second, but were unable to put the puck past Hasek.
A bad clear by Johnson resulted in a power play goal for Detroit early in the third. He had to take time to settle it before shooting it away, and Yzerman had time to position himself so that the puck would bounce off his chest. It then bounced down to his stick, and he put it in the net to take a four-goal lead.
The Blues got a break towards the end of the game. Shanahan was in the penalty box for a holding the stick call, and St. Louis pulled their goalie to go six-on-four. Scott Mellanby took a shot which barely bounced into the net before bouncing right back out. Neither the goal judge nor the referees called the goal, so play continued until Mellanby put the puck into the net again. The first goal went to video review and was judged to be good, which reset the clock to that time and negated the second goal.
Once the Blues gained control off the faceoff, they pulled Johnson again. This time Keith Tkachuk managed to score off a strange between-the-legs pass by Al MacInnis. The Blues continued to press hard for the remaining seconds, but they were not able to tie the game.
Shots on net were thirty-six to twenty-three in favor of St. Louis. The Red Wings hope to close out this series with a win in Game 5 Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Notes: Igor Larionov sat out due to a leg injury sustained in Game 3. His spot was filled by Jason Williams?. Steve Yzerman's game-winning goal and the Wings' resulting commanding series lead were probably exactly the birthday gift he wanted?The Captain turned 37 today. Yes, 37. You'd never know it by watching how he's playing, would you?