A Hull of a Comeback

Brett Hull scored two goals for the Red Wings, helping them to overcome an early two-goal deficit and tie the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-2.

The game did not start well for the Red Wings, in spite of their strong defensive play in Saturday’s game against the Stars. The Coyotes were well-rested and enthusiastic, and it showed in their playing: they kept the Red Wings penned in their end of the rink for the greater part of the first period.

Phoenix opened the scoring just over six minutes into the game. Daniel Briere shot the puck from a tight angle on the right side, and it went between Manny Legace‘s arm and body on the far side of the net.

Briere scored again only seventeen seconds again. Daymond Langkow shot the puck on the net from point-blank range. Legace blocked the shot, but Briere grabbed up the rebound and swept it into the net.

Scotty Bowman did then the only thing which he can safely be predicted to do: he switched up the lines. It worked, after a fashion. The Red Wings started to play with more pressure, carrying the play into the Phoenix zone. It paid off for Brett Hull.

Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman tangled with a pair of Phoenix defenseman in the corner, and got the puck out front to Hull, who was all alone with goalie Robert Esche. Hull stared at the top of the net, Esche moved up to block, and Hull slid the puck between the goalie’s legs. “Sometimes those are the hardest shots, because you start thinking about it!” Hull laughed later.

Detroit continued their steady offensive pressure throughout the second period, but neither team scored again before the intermission. The Red Wings got two power play opportunities and a four-on-four situation that looked as if it could have been a power play. Their passing and puck control were strong, but Esche was able to stop all ten of the shots he faced in the period.

The third period continued in much the same fashion until its end, when Hull rose to the occasion once again. Mathieu Dandenault fired a hard shot from the blue line, and Hull was in just the right place in front of the net to tip it past Esche, sending the game to overtime.

Play went end to end in the overtime period. Legace made a great save to deny Briere his hat trick, and the game ended in a tie.

Shots on net were thirty-one to twenty-nine in the Red Wings’ favor. Neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings will travel next to Dallas to play against the Stars on Wednesday night.

Strong From Start to Finish

The Red Wings extended their home win streak to eight games, playing a tight defense and an offense that was just as strong as it needed to be, going on to defeat their conference rivals the Dallas Stars, 5-2.

The Red Wings came out ready to play in the first period, and were rewarded with an early goal. Brendan Shanahan took a neutral zone pass from Nick Lidstrom, and fired hard from the right side. The puck flew beneath the leg pads of goaltender Marty Turco, giving Shanahan the thousandth point of his career.

The Stars were playing a disorganized game, and the Red Wings were prepared to take advantage of it. Shanahan scored again before the end of the period. Dallas expected the puck to clear their zone, but Jiri Fischer got it away from Derian Hatcher at the blue line, and flung it back in deep. Shanahan was trailing the play, hoping the puck would come back in, and when it did, he was ready. He waited patiently for Turco to drop to block an expected low shot, then flipped it high into the net.

Dallas got a power play chance when Darren McCarty was given a penalty for interference. Mike Modano fired a hard shot from the left side. The puck deflected off the stick of Chris Chelios and past Dominik Hasek, who was being screened by Brenden Morrow.

The Red Wings took the Dallas goal in stride, and kept playing hard throughout the second period. Less than a minute in, Detroit took advantage of a turnover in neutral ice. Sergei Fedorov got the puck and passed ahead to Kirk Maltby. Maltby took what looked like a harmless shot on net, but it slid past Turco on the short side.

The Red Wings got their only power play goal of the game six minutes into the second, when Hatcher was in the box for hooking. The tight-passing power play unit got the puck to Shanahan, who faked the shot and passed to Steve Yzerman at the right side. From that tight angle, Yzerman sent the puck in behind Turco.

The Stars made one more rally during four-on-four play caused by penalties to Larionov and Morrow. Joe Nieuwendyk got the puck away from a bad pass from Hasek to Yzerman, and centered out front to Modano, who sent the puck in over Hasek.

Detroit controlled the game through the third period as well, keeping Dallas from getting the puck anywhere near the net. When the Dallas coaches pulled Turco from net to send in the extra skater with fifty seconds left to play, the Red Wings were ready. Larionov got control of the puck at center and took a backhanded shot down the ice and into the empty net. Defenseman Sergei Zubov tried to drop to the ice and knock the puck off course, but it was too late for the Stars.

Shots on net were thirty-five to eighteen in favor of the Red Wings, demonstrating their commitment to both offensive and defensive play throughout the game. Detroit will play again on Tuesday night, travelling to Phoenix to face the Coyotes.

Draper’s Goal Caps Comeback

It took the Red Wings awhile to get the game going, but Luc Robitaille‘s landmark 610th career goal got them started, and they went on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4.

The game did not start well for the Red Wings. Vancouver scored their first goal of the game just under six minutes in when Markus Naslund managed to flip the puck into the net just after Todd Bertuzzi knocked Dominik Hasek to the ice. Hasek recovered quickly, but not quickly enough to get his glove up to catch the fluttering puck.

Detroit got another bad break when Kris Draper was given a four-minute double minor penalty for high-sticking. Just before the first two minutes was up, defenseman Brent Sopel stuffed the puck past Hasek on the rebound from Daniel Sedin‘s shot from the blue line.

Bertuzzi and his toughness got the Canucks another goal before the end of the period. He pulled Igor Larionov out of the way, took the pass from Naslund, and flipped it in over Hasek.

The Red Wings increased offensive pressure in the second period, but weren’t able to get the puck past goaltender Peter Skudra and his oversized legpads until there was just over two minutes left to play. Nick Lidstrom took a shot from the blue line, and Luc Robitaille was there to pick up the rebound and put it past Skudra to score his milestone goal, tying him with Bobby Hull for the all-time greatest number of goals scored by a left winger.

The Wings ended the period in four-on-four play, and suffered a loss of momentum. Bertuzzi and Brendan Shanahan had simultaneous minor penalties, and Andrew Cassels was able to get the puck from a neutral zone turnover and fire it at Hasek. It deflected off of Lidstrom’s skate and into Hasek’s net.

The third period was all Detroit. Before the period was four minutes old, Mattias Ohlund was sent to the box for tripping, and Brendan Shanahan scored on the resulting power play by deflecting a shot from Steve Yzerman into the net off of his rear end.

Pavel Datsyuk scored only fifty-two seconds later by putting an amazing deke on both Vancouver defensemen, leaving them wondering how that rookie got by them with the puck. Skudra had no chance at all, and just like that, it was a one-goal game.

Detroit continued the pressure, and were rewarded when Brett Hull scored the equalizing goal with six and a half minutes left in regulation play. Sergei Fedorov, playing on defense for his fourth game, took a hard shot from the blue line. Skudra wasn’t able to contain the rebound, and Datsyuk patiently gathered it in and passed across the crease to Hull, who was easily able to flip the puck in over Skudra.

The momentum kept on going in Detroit’s favor, but they were not able to score again until two and a half minutes of the overtime period had gone by. Steve Duchesne shot on net from his defensive position, and the puck bounced off one of Skudra’s leg pads, straight to the stick of Draper. Into the net it went, and the Red Wings celebrated the seventh game of a home winning streak.

Shots on net, which were sixteen to six in favor of the Canucks at the end of the first period, were forty-eight to thirty in the Red Wings’ favor by the end of the game. The Red Wings will play one of their perennial conference rivals, the Dallas Stars, Saturday afternoon at the Joe.

Snowballing the Avs

The Red Wings came back hard from a slightly shaky first period to dominate the game and defeat their archrivals the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1, in front of 20,058 ecstatic fans at Joe Louis Arena.

The Avalanche opened the scoring 3:39 into the game. Marty Skoula picked up the rebound from a shot by Milan Hejduk, and fired it past Dominik Hasek to take an early lead.

Colorado tightened up its defense for the rest of the period, making it difficult for the Red Wings to get control of the puck in the offensive zone. Most of the shots on net were blocked by the Avalanche, and those that got through were easily blocked by David Aebischer, playing in net for Patrick Roy who was sitting out to recover from the flu.

The second period was a different matter. The Red Wings opened up their offense, as well as shutting down any offense Colorado might have tried to muster. Shots on net were twelve to three in favor of Detroit in the second period alone. Aebischer continued to come up huge, stopping strong shots from Brendan Shanahan and Luc Robitaille, not to mention a shorthanded two-on-one breakaway chance by Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull.

It was rookie Pavel Datsyuk who put Detroit on the scoreboard. Greg DeVries was sent to the penalty box for hooking. The power play got off to a slow start, but the Red Wings did manage to set up the scoring play. Igor Larionov took the puck behind the net and passed out to Datsyuk at the right side. Datsyuk shot the puck into the tiny space between the goalpost and Aebischer’s left armpit to score his first NHL power play goal and tie the game.

The Red Wings continued their offensive pressure into the third period. Three minutes in, Todd Gill was the last man back in the Colorado zone, attempting to clear the puck. Larionov poke checked it away from him to get a breakaway chance. He cut to the right to fool Aebischer, then quickly flipped the puck into the net on the left side.

Detroit scored again less than two minutes later. Darren McCarty sent a breakout pass from the Red Wings’ zone up to Yzerman at neutral ice. Yzerman and Shanahan took off on a two-on-one, Yzerman passed left to Shanahan, and Shanahan ripped the one-timer past Aebischer.

Having a sufficient lead, the Wings began to concentrate on the defense, keeping the puck in Colorado’s zone, but not making any plays that could risk turning the puck over to the Avalanche. Colorado managed to carry the play just enough into Detroit’s zone to pull Aebischer in favor of the sixth skater with a minute and a half left to play, but the Red Wings effectively kept the puck away from the Avalanche until the final buzzer, gaining their thirtieth win of the season.

Hasek stopped thirteen of the mere fourteen shots he faced during the game, while Aebischer managed to stop thirty-two of the thirty-five he was shelled with. The Detroit defense was effective enough to keep Colorado superstar Joe Sakic from getting any shots against Hasek at all.

The Red Wings will play next Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Power Play Gets The Win

The Red Wings’ power play got the new year off to a good start, despite third period defensive lapses, by defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, 5-3.

The Ducks started out the game trying to keep in a tight defensive trap, but it was not enough to stop the Red Wings’ offense in the first period. Oleg Tverdovsky started Anaheim’s troubles by picking up a penalty for holding 3:13 into the game. He barely had time to sit down in the penalty box before Luc Robitaille picked up the rebound from Igor Larionov‘s shot on net and sent it in behind goaltender Steve Shields.

The Wings scored their second of the night on another power play, this one resulting from a tripping call on Keith Carney. Pavel Datsyuk fished the puck out from a tangle of Anaheim players in the right corner and put a centering pass out front for Brendan Shanahan, who had been left wide open. Shields dropped down to block before the shot was fired, and Shanahan sent it over Shields into the top corner of the net.

The Red Wings’ power play scored again before the end of the period. Jason York was given a roughing call for a hard hit on Darren McCarty with eighteen seconds left, and Shanahan scored his second goal of the night by firing in the rebound from Nick Lidstrom‘s shot.

The Ducks didn’t change up their play in the second period, and the Red Wings stayed on the offensive. Robitaille got the puck along the left boards, and passed to Sergei Fedorov, speeding up center to join the play from his defensive position. Fedorov faked left and put the puck into the right side of the net.

That was all Shields and the Anaheim bench could take, and they called him out to be replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Anaheim got a lucky break late in the period, when Samuel Pahlsson was able to score against Dominik Hasek on a short-handed breakaway. The Mighty Ducks took that momentum and translated it into energy for the third period.

Tverdovsky scored by shooting from the right point while Hasek was screened from seeing the puck, 3:19 into the third.

Anaheim continued to pressure the Red Wings, who seemed to lose energy even as the Ducks gained it, and brought the game within one point with just under four minutes left to play. A confused tangle of Anaheim offense and Detroit defense surrounded the net in front of Hasek on a delayed penalty to the Wings, and the Ducks kept whacking at the puck until Marc Chouinard finally poked it into the net.

Luck was with the Red Wings, however, when Jeff Friesen was sent to the penalty box for roughing with 2:37 remaining. Steve Yzerman, playing his first game back after a foot injury, stole the puck from Pavel Trnka in front of the Anaheim net and passed neatly to Mathieu Dandenault, coming up the right wing side. Dandenault fired, and the puck fluttered into the net behind Giguere to lock up the Red Wings twenty-ninth win of the season.

Hasek stopped twenty-six of the twenty-nine shots he faced, while Shields stopped only nine of thirteen before being pulled. Giguere stopped fourteen shots out of fifteen.

The Red Wings play next on Saturday afternoon, when their arch-nemesis, the Colorado Avalanche, comes to play at the Joe.

Wings Year Ends the Way it Began

Hours before midnight on the last day of the year the Red Wings ended 2001 the way it had began, with a 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

On January 4, 2001, Detroit downed the Dallas Stars in their first game of the year. On Decmeber 31, 2001, the Red Wings defeated the Minnesota Wild in the last game of 2001.

The Red Wings, coming off an overtime loss to Nashville in which they blew a two goal, third period lead, opened the scoring late in the first period when Darren McCarty beat Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez with a wrist shot high to the glove side.

The Wings scored again just over five minutes into the second period when Luc Robitaille chipped his own rebound past Fernandez on the power play. Steve Duchesne, playing his first game after missing five with an ankle injury, scored the Wings’ third goal late in the second while jumping into an odd-man rush.

Not to be kept down, the Wild jumped back in the third. Darby Hendrickson beat Dominik Hasek while shorthanded just past the midpoint of the period to put Minnesota on the board. With less than four minutes remaining in the period, Marian Gaborik added another for the Wild and the Wings’ lead was cut to one goal late in the game.

Detroit clamped down defensively for the final minutes, and with 23.7 seconds remaining Kris Draper scored into the empty net to seal the victory.

The win gave the Red Wings a 56-19-9-3 record for the Year 2001, including the playoffs, and moved them up to 28-8-3-2 on the season. The Wings will kick off 2002 on Wednesday as the Mighty Ducks of Anahiem visit Joe Louis Arena. Faceoff is at 8:00 PM.