Superior penalty killing, skillful playmaking by Pavel Datsyuk, and excellent goaltending by Manny Legace led the Red Wings to their sixth straight victory, a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets were given five power plays in the first period alone, including a four minute high-sticking double minor to Maxim Kuznetsov. With the constant penalty-killing necessary, the Red Wings managed only two shots on net the entire period, but one of those shots was the first goal of the game. Datsyuk threaded a pass across the front of the goal crease through a passing lane just wide enough to get a puck through. Brendan Shanahan was skating towards the net, and he had his stick down on the ice to tip the puck past Marc Denis.
Columbus managed thirteen shots in the first period, but only one of those, a wrist shot by Ray Whitney, made it in past Legace. The high number of shots didn’t seem to bother Legace at all, however. “It was good to get shots early,” he explained. “The last game I didn’t get any shots. Getting a lot of shots early gets you into the game and gets you back into a little rhythm.”
Brett Hull, playing through a bad cold, gave the Red Wings the lead again early in the second period. Datsyuk passed the puck to Jason Woolley, who had pinched in deep towards the goal line, and Woolley centered the puck to Hull. Hull then one-timed the shot, and the puck sailed into the net past Denis.
A bad bounce for Detroit let Columbus tie the game back up early in the third period. Whitney’s pass from behind the net bounced off the skate of Rostislav Klesla and into the net before Legace could react.
Midway through the third period, the Red Wings were able to take the lead for good when Jaroslav Spacek was sent to the penalty box for a boarding call against Darren McCarty. Woolley got the puck to Shanahan along the left side. Shanahan used a Columbus defenseman as a screen. His shot went right between the defenseman’s legs and past Denis for the goal.
The Blue Jackets were far from done, and Legace made some key saves as the clock ran down. Geoff Sanderson had a chance to score on a rebound right in front of the crease, but Legace got in the way. Jamie Allison made a hard, well-aimed shot from the left faceoff circle, but Legace blocked that one too, leaving Columbus coach Doug MacLean shaking his head. “We had a great third period,” he said. “Great chances and great saves by Legace. He made five or six great saves at the end.”
Over the course of the game, Columbus outshot Detroit by a total of 31 to 23. The Red Wings will return home for their next game Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Steve Yzerman returned to the lineup for this game. He played 14:49 over the course of the game, an increase over his two previous games…. Sergei Fedorov and Chris Chelios both sat out. Fedorov warmed up before the game, but returned to the dressing room complaining of a sore back from being slammed into the goalpost Sunday night against Phoenix. Chelios had an MRI on the knee he twisted in the last game. The results were fine, but Chelios will sit out the rest of the week as a precautionary measure. Fedorov should return to the lineup against Tampa Bay.