Dominik Hasek‘s former teammates were unable to defeat his new teammates, “Lucky Luc’s” luck seems to be returning, and Nicklas Lidstrom became the Red Wings’ top scoring defenseman of all time, as the Wings gained a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Compared to recent games, this game had an amazing amount of flow to it. There were no stoppages in play until a full 3:26 into the first period, when icing was called against Buffalo. Slava Kozlov, given to the Sabres this summer in exchange for Hasek, nearly got the puck past the Red Wings’ goaltender, but Hasek was able to block the shot.
Seven minutes, thirty-six seconds into the game, Detroit’s Maxim Kuznetsov was penalized for interference, but the situation went to a 4-on-4 just over a minute later, when Buffalo’s Jason Woolley was handed a penalty for holding the stick. Detroit wound up with 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, because Rhett Warrener got called for tripping, but the power play unit was unable to score.
Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.
The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.
Detroit’s power play had another chance with 6:33 remaining in the first, when Warrener was penalized for holding rookie Pavel Datsyuk, but the power play was cut short when Brendan Shanahan was given a tripping penalty. Buffalo was not able to score on their resulting power play, but captain Stu Barnes did score exactly two seconds later, after a very patient play and pass from Miroslav Satan.
Many of the shots Detroit fired were blocked by Buffalo’s defense before they even got to goalie Martin Biron, who played backup to Hasek last year. Not that Biron was incapable of stopping shots- far from it! Kris Draper made a beautiful pass to Sergei Fedorov, who left the puck for Shanahan. Shanahan fired the puck hard, but Biron kept it out of the net.
Two minutes, fifty-seven seconds into the second period, Luc Robitaille passed the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom, received the puck back again, and let it fly past Biron, scoring his first goal as a Red Wing. Tomas Holmstrom also received an assist on that goal. Buffalo answered back just over a minute later, with Satan picking up a rebound to slide the puck past Hasek.
Holmstrom was penalized for cross-checking with 11:22 left in the period, but Detroit’s penalty-killing unit was more than adequate for the job: they kept the puck in Buffalo’s zone for over half of the penalty.
With 4:52 to go in the period, Fedorov carried the puck behind the net, eluding a hit by a Buffalo defenseman. He passed the puck to Shanahan, and this time, Biron was not able to stop the shot.
Frederick Olausson scored his first goal as a Red Wing and gave Detroit the lead with only 2:26 left before intermission, in a 4-on-4 situation resulting from penalties to Darren McCarty and Alexei Zhitnik. Detroit had 1:05 of a power play remaining after the 4-on-4 ended, but was unable to score, despite good chances by Brett Hull.
The third period was quiet until near its end. Buffalo attempted to bring Biron back to the bench to have the sixth skater out, but miscalculated and received a penalty for having too many men on the ice. They pulled Biron anyway, with 30 seconds left to go, but Lidstrom got the puck to Shanahan, and Shanahan was able to send it into the empty net with only 5 seconds before the end of the game. This gave Lidstrom a total of 571 career points, sending him past Reed Larson’s record as the Red Wings’ all-time top scoring defenseman.
The Red Wings looked more organized on both offense and defense than they had in their previous games. There can always be improvements, but things look like they’re starting to come together. Former Red Wing Doug Brown, joining UPN 50 regulars Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond in the broadcast booth, put it more succinctly: “That whole line’s gonna score 13,000 goals.”