The one and only matchup this season between last year's Stanley Cup finalists should have been an intense, entertaining game. Instead, it became an overload of penalties. The Carolina Hurricanes scored on five of a ludicrous nine power plays they were given, and in spite of the Red Wings' best efforts to score during their rare times at even strength or with the man advantage, they still wound up on the losing end of a 6-4 game.
Detroit scored twice in the first period, both times in four-on-four play. First Brett Hull waited patiently in the high slot, as he does. When Nick Lidstrom sent a well placed pass across from the right side, Hull sent a one-time shot soaring into the net past goalie Kevin Weekes. The second goal came from Kirk Maltby, who crossed the blue line with the puck and wristed a shot past the partially screened goaltender.
Weekes was injured shortly after Maltby's goal, while the Wings were attempting to score shorthanded. Maltby shoved Bret Hedican towards the net after the play stopped. Hedican fell on top of Weekes, who hit his head. Weekes was helped off the ice and Arturs Irbe came out to take his place.
Pavel Datsyuk was also injured in the first period. He was shoved and fell into Sean Hill. It seemed at first as if he had hit his head, but team personnel later reported that Datsyuk had actually hurt his knee and would need to go for further testing.
The second period saw the Hurricanes come back to tie and take the lead, with one power play goal after another. Jan Hlavac was able to score by tapping the rebound from a Bates Battaglia shot in past Curtis Joseph. A few minutes later, David Tanabe scored the equalizer with a hard shot from the blue line. Igor Larionov dropped to block the shot, but the shot was high enough to glance off the top of his skate and fly past Joseph into the net. Hlavac scored again to take the lead, this time on a tidy passing play. Erik Cole sent a pass from the left boards to Battaglia at the right side of the net, and Battaglia put it out front for Hlavac to whack in for the goal.
Henrik Zetterberg scored just before the period was over, tying the game back up. Tomas Holmstrom made a play to Luc Robitaille, who left a saucer pass for Zetterberg. The rookie made a move around Hill and put the puck in on Irbe's far side.
Carolina's fourth power play goal was Hlavac's third of the game. He waited in front of the net, got a rebound from Rod Brind'amour's shot, and put it high past Lidstrom and Joseph both.
Hull tied the game again when the Red Wings got the best break they had all night. Penalties to Glen Wesley and to Cole resulted in a 5-on-3 power play, and the Detroit power play used the opportunity to show off its best passing skills. Igor Larionov sent the puck from the right side of the net down to Lidstrom at the right point, and Lidstrom sent the puck across to Hull. Hull's hard one-time shot flew into the net before Irbe even had a chance to see it.
Unfortunately, a questionable hooking call against Chris Chelios (he lifted the stick of Sami Kapanen to keep him from shooting the puck, and Kapanen's feet somehow just flew out from under him) gave the Hurricanes the chance to get their fifth power play goal and take the lead for good. Brind'amour's shot went off the skate of Mathieu Dandenault, and the rebound came out to Jeff O'Neill, who was able to slap it past Joseph.
Carolina actually did manage to score an even strength goal. Kapanen received the puck from Ron Francis. He turned with it and fired. Joseph was partially screened, and the puck just glanced off the top of his catching glove.
Detroit took a total of 28 shots on net. Carolina, aided by their power plays, had 41.
The Red Wings' next game will be Sunday night at home against the Calgary Flames.
Notes: Brett Hull is now on an eight-game point streak, and just 12 goals away from the 700th of his career.... Associate coach Barry Smith said that Pavel Datsyuk's knee had been "wrenched," and information about the extent of the injury would be given as it became available.
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