The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks for the third time in six nights on Tuesday, completing a sweep of their three-game home-and-home-and-home series with a 4-1 win. The win gives the Red Wings nine-straight wins and a league-leading 12-1 record.
Detroit got a scare early when record-setting goalie Manny Legace was forced to leave the game during the first period with what was described as a strained left knee.
While fighting for position in front of the crease, Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer knocked Chicago's Matthew Barnaby backwards onto Legace leg. As Legace lie on the ice, Fischer and Barnaby fought to a draw, with each player receiving a five-minute penalty. Legace left the game and was replaced by Chris Osgood, who defeated the Blackhawks on Saturday in his only NHL action of the season.
Osgood proved to be up to the task, playing the remaining 43:23 and allowing only one goal.
Detroit opened the scoring before Legace left the game with a goal by Kirk Maltby with 4:01 remaining in the period. Steve Yzerman sent a pass from the right point to Maltby as he broke into the Chicago zone alone. Maltby fired a shot from the high slot that bounced off the goalpost and back out to him. With Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin out of position after the first shot, Maltby took the opening to put the puck in the net from the right circle.
The Red Wings had a chance to extend their lead with a Robert Lang penalty shot just 4:00 into the second period but Lang was unable to convert. The puck rolled as he crossed the blue line and by the time he could settle it down, all he could get off was a weak shot that was easily stopped by Khabibulin.
Detroit did manage to get their two-goal lead 3:34 later, when Red Wings rookie and Chicago-area native Brett Lebda scored a fluke goal on the power play. From the corner to Khabibulin's right, Lebda sent a shot towards the crease. The puck bounced off Khabibulin's side and into the net for Lebda's second goal of the season.
Brendan Shanahan gave the Red Wings a three-goal lead with 4:50 left in the period on a pretty play started by Jason Williams. Williams fired a two-line pass from the Wings' defensive zone up to Lang at the Chicago blue line. Lang gained the zone before dropping the puck back to Shanahan to fire a quick shot from the slot over Khabibulin's glove.
Chicago's lone goal came with 1:37 remaining in the second, when Adrian Aucoin sent a blast from the point that may have been tipped in front of the crease past a screened Osgood for a power play goal.
Williams closed the game's scoring with a one-timer from the point while the Red Wings were a power play with 8:20 remaining in the game.
Legace made eight saves before he left the game and Osgood finished with 23 saves on 24 shots. Khabibulin stopped 16 of the 20 shots he faced in net for Chicago.
Detroit's power play went two-for-six, while their penalty killing units allowed only one goal on Chicago's six chances.
The Red Wings will be back in action on Thursday, hosting the Edmonton Oilers.
Notes: Defenseman Mathieu Schneider did not play due to a sore groin. He is listed as day-to-day. Jamie Rivers took his spot on the Detroit blueline... Legace will undergo a precautionary MRI on Wednesday... Chicago's lineup was bolstered by the return of forward Tuomo Ruutu.
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