Once again, goaltender Manny Legace held his team in the game so they could get the win. Legace's goaltending and a three-point night from Nicklas Lidstrom propelled the Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Both teams played a very open game to start the first period, and both goalies had to be sharp. Dan Cloutier faced and stopped two quick rebound shots by Robert Lang from point-blank range before the game was even a minute gone. At the other end of the ice, Legace stoned Daniel and Henrik Sedin when they broke through neutral ice on a two-on-one rush.
Brendan Shanahan opened the scoring 3:15 into the second period. Lidstrom made a soft pass from the right point to Shanahan at center. Shanahan blasted a one-timer from nearly sixty feet in front of the net. Cloutier was unscreened, but the shot went right through.
The Red Wings got to take advantage of a five on three power play shortly thereafter. Daniel Sedin was sent to the box for high sticking. Just a few seconds into the power play, Mattias Ohlund tripped and slid into the boards while being closely followed by Tomas Holmstrom. Vancouver coach Marc Crawford believed Holmstrom should have been given a penalty, and he was very forthcoming in sharing this viewpoint with the game officials.
The referees didn't seem to appreciate Crawford's vocal opinion, so they assigned him a bench minor penalty, leaving the Canucks down by two men. Fedor Fedorov went into the box to serve Crawford's time, and the Detroit power play went to work. After a lot of passing, a few wide shots, and a couple of good saves by Cloutier, Brett Hull's shot was the one that clicked. Lidstrom passed from the right point to Hull at the top of the left faceoff circle, and Hull fired off a one-timer which bounced off the goalpost and into the net.
Vancouver nearly got themselves into the game with 2:47 left in the second period, but Legace flung himself across the crease to make a sprawling glove save against Sean Pronger.
Legace gave the fans a scare early in the third. Matt Cooke shoved Mathieu Schneider into Legace just to the right of the net. Legace was slow to get up and seemed a little shaky for a moment, but he stayed in net and finished the game.
Lidstrom added a goal to his pair of assists at 6:07 of the third. He intercepted a bad pass by the Canucks and was away on a two-on-one rush with Ray Whitney. Brent Sopel, the only defender back, was unable to stop Lidtsrom's pass to Whitney or Whitney's pass back across. Lidstrom took the pass, got to just the right spot, and wristed a shot into the net on Cloutier's short side.
Mike Keane spoiled Legace's shutout bid with 4:59 left to play. Sean Pronger won a faceoff in Detroit's zone. He pulled the puck back to Keane, who took a few steps to his left before firing the puck. The puck hit the short side goalpost and bounced into the net.
The Canucks pulled Cloutier with 1:27 left to play, but the extra attacker did them no good.
Legace made 23 saves on the 24 shots he faced, while Cloutier stopped 24 of 27 shots.
The Red Wings' next opponent will be the Southeast Division leaders, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Monday night at the Joe.
Notes: Boyd Devereaux came back into the lineup tonight to fill in for the injured Pavel Datysuk, while Mark Mowers, Anders Myrvold, and Jamie Rivers stayed in the lineup to fill the holes left by Kris Draper, Jason Woolley, and Mathieu Dandenault"¦. Shanahan's 20th goal of the season makes this his 16th consecutive 20 goal season. He and Hull, who is in his 17th consecutive 20 goal season, lead all active players in that regard.
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