Robert Lang’s first goal as a Red Wing lifted Detroit to a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday night. The Red Wings claimed the regular season Western Conference Championship with the win.
Lang’s goal came with the game tied 9:03 into the third period. Tomas Holmstrom carried the puck into Columbus zone and cut through the crease before dropping a pass back to Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan skated past the puck, letting it sit in the slot where Lang got to it and slipped a shot under Columbus goalie Marc Denis.
The Red Wings had scored 4:22 into the period to tie the game at two. After half a minute of pressure from Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, defenseman Jiri Fischer threw a shot on net from inside the blue line. Denis stopped the shot but the puck was left sitting on the goal line. From the side of the net, Holmstrom poked the puck across the goal line, tying the game.
Detroit had opened the scoring in the second period. Just 1:45 in to the middle frame, Darren McCarty and Kirk Maltby streaked in on the Columbus net. McCarty fired a shot that Maltby deflected with the shaft of his stick into the net.
Columbus’ goals came six minutes apart in the first half of the second period. At 2:48, Trevor Letowski scored and at 8:28, Donald MacLean beat Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace.
Legace made 30 saves on 32 shots while Denis stopped 27 of 30 shots. The Red Wings were unsuccessful in their lone power-play attempts, with the Blue Jackets held scoreless in each of their seven chances with the advantage.
After the game, the Blue Jackets were less worried about the loss than about a third-period hit Maltby put on Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla with 4:52 remaining.
Maltby lined up Klesla coming across the center red line and hit him into the boards in front of the Detroit bench – with one of the bench doors open. Klesla caught the corner of the boards and dropped to the ice. No penalty was called on the play.
Maltby claimed he didn’t see that the door was open.
“I’m really not going to get into an argument about it,” he said. “I’m backchecking. I can’t see who’s coming on, who’s coming off, if the door’s closed or not. I’m not trying to hurt the guy. It was a foot race.”
“You can’t say he didn’t see the door open because it was open for four seconds – we watched it on video,” Columbus interim coach Gerard Gallant said. “He just drove him into the door. Not smart at all by him.”
The Red Wings and the Blue Jackets close out the season in Detroit on Saturday night.