It's been a hockey fact for the past several years: if you give the Red Wings a power play chance, you are very likely going to go down by a goal. The Ottawa Senators tested this theory on Saturday night, and it proved true once again. Detroit had a 37.5% power play success rate, leading to a 3-2 overtime win over the Senators.
Both teams had a strong first period. Ottawa had the edge in shots on goal, with nine to Detroit's five, but few of those nine were high quality scoring chances, and Dominik Hasek was able to control most of them without any problems. Hasek had a lot of help from Derian Hatcher and Jiri Fischer. The two big defensemen did a very good job of pushing away any Ottawa players who got too close to the goal crease.
The Senators took a bench minor penalty for having too many men on the ice late in the first period, and the Red Wings were able to set up the first goal of the game. Nicklas Lidstrom passed the puck from the left side to Mathieu Schneider at the point. Schneider's shot bounced off goaltender Patrick Lalime. Tomas Holmstrom, tenaciously standing his ground in front of the net, was able to get the rebound and stuff it past Lalime.
The Red Wings played more offensively in the second period, slipping through the Senator's trapping style of play and generating more shots on net. The power play got another chance to shine when Marian Hossa was sent to the penalty box for holding the stick 4:51 into the period. Brendan Shanahan took a hard shot from the right faceoff circle. Holmstrom was screening Lalime once again, and the puck bounced off Holmstrom and fell into the goal crease. Steve Yzerman sped towards the net and slammed the puck in for the goal.
The Senators answered just over a minute later. Schneider attempted to clear the puck away from behind Hasek's net. Instead of sending it up one of the sides of the ice, he sent it up the middle. Jason Spezza was right there in the slot to intercept the pass, and he lifted it over Hasek and into the net.
Ottawa was able to tie the game midway through the third period when they got a five-on-three power play chance. Fischer had been sent to the box for tripping. That penalty was down to 23 seconds remaining when Ray Whitney was sent out for tripping Daniel Alfredsson. The Wings attempted to argue that Alfredsson had simply fallen over Hasek's skate in the crease, but the referee was unmoved and the Senators took advantage of their golden opportunity. Radek Bonk took a pass from Hossa and placed it past Hasek.
Both teams tried to win the game before the end of the third period, but defense prevailed and the game went into overtime. Zdeno Chara took a foolish penalty 55 seconds into the extra period. He knocked down Kris Draper far behind the play, and the referee was right behind them. The Senators did a good job clearing the puck out of their zone for most of the two-minute minor, until only three seconds remained. The Red Wings had finally managed to get set up in Ottawa's zone. Henrik Zetterberg sent the puck across to Brett Hull, who dropped it back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom moved to his right down the blue line and let fire a laser of a shot which went right past Lalime and into the net.
The shot totals favored Ottawa, 23-18. The Red Wings' next opponent will be the hard-hitting Vancouver Canucks, Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Notes: Yzerman has already tied his goal total of last season. He had two goals in the 16 regular-season games he played after his recovery from knee surgery. Okay, it doesn't mean much to say so after only two games, but the Captain is the team's current goal-scoring leader. It's all about leading by example.
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