Hull Breaks Goal Slump at Just the Right Time


For awhile, it looked as if the Chicago Blackhawks were going to emerge as winners, but they didn’t seem to count on plain old Detroit stubbornness. The Red Wings overcame a two goal deficit to start off their four game road swing with a 4-3 overtime win.

The play between the teams was fairly even through the first period. The puck went end to end, with both teams getting scoring chances, but goalies Curtis Joseph and Jocelyn Thibault were ready for the challenge.

Chicago struck in the second period. They got a power play in the early going when Kirk Maltby was sent to the box for roughing. Veteran Phil Housley took a shot from the right point, and Kyle Calder was right at the front of the net to tap the rebound past Joseph.

Some skillful puck-handling by Alexei Zhamnov set up the Blackhawk’s second goal 7:23 into the period. Zhamnov skated a circle around the net, having his shooting lanes blocked by defenders but not allowing them to knock the puck away. Finally he made a quick centering pass to Steve Poapst, who put a wrist shot into the net.

Sergei Fedorov stole the Blackhawks’ momentum early in the third period. Alexander Karpovtsev fanned on a clearing pass inside his own blue line and threw himself off balance. Fedorov stepped up to the puck and shot it right past Thibault.

The Red Wings were unable to capitalize on the momentum shift, and Chicago was able to calm the game down and score again. This time, Zhamnov centered a pass from the half boards to Theo Fleury in the high slot. Fleury’s shot changed direction off the skates of Kirk Maltby and rolled into the net past Joseph.

Brett Hull led the Red Wings to take control of the game after that. They got their break when Poapst was sent out for tripping. The power play set up. Nicklas Lidstrom made a pass to Brendan Shanahan at the half boards. Shanahan skated around with the puck just enough to gain good shooting position before letting the shot fly, and Hull tipped it through on its way past Thibault.

The Red Wings played inspired hockey after that, but so did Thibault. Finally, with only 37 seconds remaining in the game, and Joseph out of the net for a sixth skater, Hull, Lidstrom, and Shanahan did it again. This time Shanahan made the first pass and Lidstrom shot the puck towards the net, but again it was Hull who had his stick in just the right position to redirect the puck past Thibault and send the game to overtime.

Barely a minute in to the extra five minutes, Detroit scored for the win. Not surprisingly, Hull had a hand in this goal as well. Igor Larionov made a good pass to send Hull up on a two-on-one rush with Jason Woolley. Thibault was expecting Hull to shoot, so he was unprepared when Hull passed instead and Woolley put the puck just below the crossbar. “We didn’t quit when it was 3-1 and it paid off,” said Hull. “We were doing a lot of good things and just stuck with it.”

The final count of shots on net was 32-24 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next game will be Tuesday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are second in the Southeast Division with a 17-15-5-3 record.

Chris Chelios sat out another game with a leg injury. The team expects him back for either Tuesday’s game at Tampa Bay or Wednesday’s game at the Florida Panthers.

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