DETROIT, Michigan -- An assist by Luc Robitaille ended his twelve game scoring drought and helped end the Red Wings' nine game home winless streak against the Chicago Blackhawks with a 5-4 overtime win. The Red Wings had not beaten the Blackhawks at the Joe since April 2, 1999.
The first period went by scoreless, though it wasn't due to a lack of effort by either team. Curtis Joseph and rookie goaltender Michael Leighton both came up huge for their respective teams. Leighton managed to stop Kirk Maltby on a point-blank shot just as the period was about to end.
Chicago came out with good pressure to start the second period, and they were able to capitalize on a disjointed, scrambling play. Andre Nikolishin passed the puck from behind the net, and Kyle Calder, just off the bench, was able to get to it and slide it underneath Joseph.
The Red Wings answered quickly, scoring their first of the night less than two minutes later. Sergei Fedorov carried the puck into Chicago's zone and sent a good feed up to Jason Woolley. Woolley circled the net and scored on the wraparound by putting the puck between Leighton's glove and the goalpost.
Nicklas Lidstrom gave Detroit its first lead of the game a few minutes later by one-timing a good pass Luc Robitaille sent from the left corner out towards the blue line. Unfortunately a rare faceoff violation penalty against the Wings led Chicago to tie the game up, with Calder scoring again, this time from Phil Housley and Alexei Zhamnov.
Detroit started the third period with two minutes of four-on-four followed by a three minute power play. Just before the buzzer to end the second period, Maltby and Theo Fleury had a battle. Maltby wound up with two minutes for slashing, while Fleury took a five minute spearing major and a game misconduct. Even so, the Wings didn't regain their lead until a few minutes after the power play had expired.
Maltby stole the puck at Chicago's blue line and went in alone on Leighton, and this time Leighton wasn't so lucky. The puck bounced off of him, curved up into the air, and came down inside the net.
The Blackhawks answered with another power play goal. Sergei Berezin and Steve Thomas brought the puck in on a two on one rush. Mathieu Dandenault dropped to block the passing lane, but somehow Berezin made the pass anyway, and Thomas put the puck past Joseph.
Brett Hull got Detroit another one goal lead with unwitting help from two Chicago defenseman. Henrik Zetterberg passed Hull the puck, and Hull brought it out from the corner. He made a tight angle shot, but Mike Eastwood got his stick in the way so that the shot went wide""just wide enough to bounce off Housley's rear end and into the net.
Housley evidently didn't want the game's deciding goal to be one scored off of his rear, because he tied the game back up for the Blackhawks with just over three minutes to play. Calder centered a pass from behind the net and Housley fired off a quick one-time shot to send the game to overtime.
Joseph made an excellent stop against Zhamnov early in the overtime, and Fedorov took the puck over, heading up ice with Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan.. Fedorov made the pass, Shanahan made the shot, and Lidstrom followed up and flipped the puck in over Leighton.
Chicago outshot Detroit by a count of 38-33. These two teams will skate again Wednesday night in Chicago.
Notes: Two more goals for Brett Hull, and he'll be celebrating the 700th of his career.... Dave Lewis was not necessarily pleased with tonight's game, though he'll take the two points gladly. "That was too wild for me," he said. "As a team, we were too porous and we lost a lot of battles. But we found a way to win.".... Steve Yzerman will travel with the Wings on their upcoming western road trip so that he can continue to workout with his teammates and begin a regular practice routine.