Igor Larionov scored his 150th career goal, and Manny Legace recorded his seventh win of the season, as the Red Wings defeated the New Jersey Devils, 4-2.
Defense was strong for both teams through the first period. Even so, Detroit was able to open the scoring just over two minutes into the game. Sergei Fedorov passed to Brendan Shanahan in the corner behind the net, then took the return pass and fired the shot from the top of the right faceoff dot. The puck soared into the net over goaltender Martin Brodeur’s catching glove.
The play continued at a fast pace, with each team pressuring the other, but not able to break through each other’s defense. Remarkably, after Fedorov’s goal, there were no more stoppages in play until there was only 3:22 left in the period, when Scott Stevens was sent to the box for roughing. New Jersey’s penalty killers were able to keep knocking the puck out of their defensive zone and keep Detroit’s power play from setting up an organized effort.
The Devils didn’t get a power play chance until 1:47 into the second period, when Freddy Olausson was given a high-sticking penalty. New Jersey was unable to get any shots against Legace during the power play, and both Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios had breakaway opportunities against Brodeur.
Ken Daneyko received an interference penalty 8:04 into the second, giving the Red Wings another power play chance. This time, they scored. Steve Yzerman passed to Tomas Holmstrom at the front of the net, and Holmstrom banked his shot off Scott Niedermayer’s leg and into the net.
New Jersey came back with a goal from Colin White with 8:56 left in the period. White took a pass back from Bobby Holik and fired hard from the left point. The puck flew through a screen of skaters and underneath Legace to bring the Devils back within one.
The Red Wings answered with just over six minutes in the second. Boyd Devereaux fired hard against Brodeur. The puck was blocked and slid away, but Larionov picked it up and centered it to give Devereaux his opportunity to flip the puck in over Brodeur.
The Devils scored once more five minutes into the third period. John Madden was able to pick up the rebound from Randy Mckay’s shot and stuff it under the crossbar. However, they made their fatal error with six minutes left to play. Scott Gomez gave the puck up to Luc Robitaille behind the New Jersey net, as his teammates were heading up the ice on the attack. Robitaille passed out front to Larionov, who shot the puck over Brodeur for the 150th goal of his NHL career.
The Red Wings played a very tight defense after Larionov’s goal, sending only one skater up to the forecheck while four stayed back to defend their lead. New Jersey pulled Brodeur from the net for the extra skater with just over a minute left, but their plans for a last minute rally were thwarted when Mckay was given an interference penalty for pushing Legace into the net along with the puck, letting Detroit end the game with twenty seconds of power play time.
Legace stopped thirty-six of thirty-eight shots and extended his unbeaten streak to nineteen games. Brodeur stopped twenty-three shots of the twenty-seven taken against him. The Red Wings and Devils will continue their home-and-home series Saturday night in New Jersey.