Between Robert Lang’s playmaking and Nicklas Lidstrom’s penalty killing, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t have much of a chance to win this one. Lang had 3 assists in his debut with the Red Wings, and Lidstrom played his usual quietly spectacular defense in his 1000th career game, propelling Detroit to a 4-2 win over the Flyers.
Lang, acquired Friday from the Washington Capitals, scored his first Detroit point in his second shift of the game. He won a faceoff against Alexei Zhamnov in the Flyers’ zone, and the puck flew back to Mathieu Schneider at the blue line. Schneider’s wrist shot deflected off the stick of Chris Therien and over the shoulder of netminder Sean Burke. The Flyers had a chance to tie up the game a little while later when they wound up with just under two minutes of a four-on-three power play. Kris Draper, Steve Yzerman, and Lidstrom started the penalty kill, doing a good job of picking off Philadelphia’s passes and sending the puck down the ice. Brendan Shanahan and Henrik Zetterberg relieved the other two forwards, but Lidstrom stayed out for the entire time, doing whatever needed to be done to defend Manny Legace.
The Flyers finally managed to get on the scoreboard early in the second period. Mark Recchi trailed the play unnoticed into Detroit’s zone. Michal Handzus fished the puck out of a tangle of players in the right corner and centered it to Recchi, who placed a wrist shot just underneath Legace’s catching glove.
Yzerman regained the lead for Detroit 3 minutes later. Anders Myrvold bounced a pass to Lang, who centered it for Yzerman coming up center. The Captain leaned into the shot and flung the puck into the net to Burke’s far side.
Kirk Maltby increased the lead near the end of a power play with 5:41 left in the second. Maltby tipped Schneider’s point shot so that it slid into the net low to Burke’s left. Burke, who was being screened by Maltby, Darren McCarty, and two of his own defensemen, had no chance to see the redirection before it slid through.
Simon Gagne’s goal to put the Flyers back within a point came on a bad luck bounce for Detroit. Mattias Timander took a shot towards the net which hit Yzerman’s face protector. The puck bounced right onto Gagne’s stick, and he was able to whack at it until he put it past Legace’s shin pad.
Brendan Shanahan ended a nine game goal drought with a power play goal midway through the third period. Yzerman sent a rink-wide pass to Lang on the left side, who carried the puck forward a few steps before shooting. Burke made the save, but he swept the rebound straight to Shanahan, who was waiting just to the right of the goal. Shanahan put the puck high over Burke’s head for the bad angle goal.
Philadelphia pulled Burke for an extra skater with 1:12 left to play, but they still didn’t manage to muster much in the way of scoring chances.
Legace faced less work this game than he’s had to deal with in awhile, making 18 saves on 20 shots. Burke stopped 23 of the 27 shots he faced.
The Red Wings’ next game will be Wednesday evening when they face the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom is the first player to reach 1000 career games out of those who entered the NHL in 1991. He has missed only 17 games in his entire career. The Flyers’ Tony Amonte is right behind him, however: this was Amonte’s 998th game”¦. Lang’s assists moved him past Martin St. Louis for the NHL scoring lead”¦. Maltby’s goal was the 99th of his career and only his 4th power play goal ever. (For comparison, Maltby has 19 career shorthanded goals.)