This time, the lead held up. This time, the defensive plays worked all game. This time, the Red Wings played a full game and made it all the way to the happy ending""- a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Dominik Hasek played a solid game in his first start after recovering from a groin injury. He made an excellent save against Scott Nichol on a shorthanded breakaway early in the game to keep the Blackhawks from jumping out to an early lead.
With the exception of that one breakaway, the Red Wings played a very careful, steady style through the first period. They did set up some good scoring opportunities against goalie Michael Leighton, but they were careful not to get out of their defensive position.
Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring with a power play goal early in the second period. Steve McCarthy had been called for cross checking just as the first period ended. The Chicago penalty killers cleared the puck, but Brett Hull brought it back to center. He sent it over to Mathieu Schneider, who got it to Datsyuk. The speedy young center got into the Chicago zone ahead of all the defending players, fooled Leighton, and put the puck high into the net.
The Red Wings killed off three straight penalties after Datsyuk's goal before Ray Whitney increased the lead with 1:50 left in the period. Kris Draper forced a turnover at center ice, and he and Whitney headed into the offensive zone on a two-on-one rush against Steve Poapst. Poapst was unable to take away the passing lane, so Draper got the puck across the crease for Whitney to flip it into the net.
Brendan Shanahan capped off the scoring with just eleven seconds left in the second period. Boyd Devereaux made a good play to cause the Blackhawks to give up the puck in their own zone. Devereaux sent the puck to Chris Chelios at the right point. Chelios shot on net, and Shanahan put the rebound past Leighton from about two feet in front of the goal line on the left side.
The Red Wings protected their lead in the third period. They still applied some offensive pressure against Chicago, but they didn't take any risks in doing so. Mostly, they kept the puck away from the Blackhawks so Chicago couldn't set up any attempts at a comeback, or even a shutout spoiler.
Detroit outshot Chicago by a count of 31 to 21. The Red Wings will head out of town for another road trip after this, beginning against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.
Notes: New acquisition Steve Thomas received his work visa and will join the team for the road trip.... Darren McCarty will be staying at home. He is still unable to play because of the back spasms caused by a crash into the boards in Saturday's Nashville game.... This was Hasek's 62nd career shutout.... This was also the first time the Blackhawks have lost in regulation play at the Joe since April of 1999.
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