Super Sergei!

The Red Wings and their power play are right back into the game after last night’s slightly embarrassing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, taking a 3-2 victory over the Senators at the Corel Centre in Ottawa.

Scotty Bowman chose to start the game with the old Grind Line of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty on the ice, and the Red Wings applied strong offensive pressure from the beginning of the game. Most of the first period was spent in the Senators’ zone. However, Ottawa played a strong defense in front of the net and kept many of the Red Wings’ shots from getting through to goaltender Jani Hurme.

Dominik Hasek showed off his new decorated helmet for the first time while making a few big saves to keep the game scoreless through one. Detroit ended the period on a good note when Ottawa’s Jody Hull took a hooking penalty with only ten seconds left.

Ottawa kept the Detroit power play from getting very organized for most of the minute and fifty seconds carried over into the second period, until Igor Larionov carried the puck into the zone and passed along the blue line to Chris Chelios at the right point. Chelios drew the Senators’ defensemen towards him, then quickly passed the puck up to Steve Duchesne at the left side. Duchesne’s quick wrist shot went past Hurme with only three seconds left on the power play.

The Senators came back before very long. Radek Bonk fished the puck out from a tangle of players along the right boards and sent a centering pass across for Marion Hossa, who flipped the puck into the net.

Ottawa was attempting to score once more, trying to bang the puck into the net, but Draper knocked it free to Sergei Fedorov, who took off down the ice alone. An Ottawa defenseman attempted to force Fedorov wide of the net, but Fedorov put a backhand shot past Hurme’s far side to score his 350th career goal.

Jody Hull took another penalty, this time for holding the stick, with five and a half minutes left in the period. The power play was unable to score, and just as Hull stepped back onto the ice, Daniel Alfreddson carried the puck towards Detroit’s end. Brett Hull was knocked down and out of the play, giving the Senators a three-on-one rush. Alfreddson’s shot from point-blank range went past Mathieu Dandenault and Dominik Hasek to tie the game.

Fedorov came to the rescue before the second period was over. Brendan Shanahan carried the puck into the zone on a three-on-two rush with Fedorov and Draper. He flew up the right wing side, just past the net, and angled a pass back to Fedorov who put the puck right through Hurme.

The Senators turned up the offense through the third period, trying to come back once more, but Detroit played a careful defense, and Hasek made all the saves that were required of him. Ottawa pulled their goaltender for the sixth skater with forty seconds left to play, but it was to no avail- Fedorov’s second goal stood up as the game winner.

Shots on net were twenty-six to twenty-two in the Red Wings’ favor. Half of the Red Wings’ shots came in the second period, and half of Ottawa’s came in the third. The Wings’ next game will be Monday night in Montreal.

Fedorov’s scoring appears to be good luck for the Wings: they have a record of 29-2-1 in games in which he has at least one point. Their overall record is 39-11-6-2, giving them a total of eighty-six points on the season.

Leaving Home For Awhile

Goals by Brett Hull and Chris Chelios, along with a strong goaltending effort by Manny Legace, were not enough to inspire the Red Wings in their last home game before March 6, and the Columbus Blue Jackets got their first-ever victory at Joe Louis Arena, 3-2.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring four minutes into the game. Jiri Fischer was not able to get the puck out of Detroit’s zone, and Ray Whitney was able to grab it up and fire on the net from the left side of the ice. The puck deflected off the skate of Chris Chelios and past Manny Legace for the goal.

Detroit came back with some offensive pressure after this, and the “Two Young Kids and an Old Goat Line,” as Brett Hull refers to himself and linemates Boyd Devereaux and Pavel Datsyuk, was especially hard for Columbus to handle. The pressure finally paid off for the Red Wings with just over seven minutes left in the first. Datsyuk got past the Blue Jackets’ defensemen to carry the puck around the net, then sent a sharp pass right across the goal crease to Brett Hull, who had his stick on the ice in perfect position to direct the puck into the net past goaltender Marc Denis.

Columbus controlled the play for most of the second period, causing Legace to make some big saves to keep the score tied. In spite of Legace’s efforts, the Blue Jackets regained the lead midway through the period, just as a tripping penalty to Steve Duchesne expired. Deron Quint took a shot from the right side, using one of his own teammates as a screen. The puck hit Legace and rolled off his chest, barely crossing the goalline before he could get his glove over it.

Chelios brought the Red Wings back to an even score a few minutes later. Kirk Maltby fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the rebound came to Chelios at the right point. The rising shot barely missed bouncing off Darren McCarty, screening Denis, and the puck went into the top corner of the net.

The Blue Jackets scored again only nineteen seconds into the third period, once again just as a penalty was expiring. David Vyborny shot the puck from the left side, and it went into the net over Legace’s shoulder.

Columbus tightened up to protect their fragile lead through the rest of the game. Detroit pulled Legace from the net for the sixth skater with just over a minute left to play, and they wound up having the last twenty-four seconds of the game as a six-on-four power play when Lyle Odelein was penalized for cross-checking, but Denis made a number of acrobatic saves and kept the puck out of the net.

Legace stopped twenty-two of twenty-five shots, while Denis stopped thirty-three of the thirty-five shots he faced. The Red Wings’ next game is Saturday night in Ottawa.

Steve Yzerman‘s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery is progressing as expected. Yzerman expects to play with the Red Wings next week at Montreal and Minnesota before going to Salt Lake City to play for Team Canada in the Olympics.

The Game Winner Goes To…. Gilchrist?!?

After a false start, the Red Wings regained their intensity and defeated Original Six rivals the New York Rangers 3-1 in the first of their two meetings this season.

Neat and tidy passing was a key in letting the Rangers sneak through a few holes in the Red Wings’ defense during the first period. The “Fly Line” of Eric Lindros, Mike York, and Theo Fleury was especially skilled at this, managing to take several shots on goal. Dominek Hasek rose to the occasion and used his acrobatic play to keep the puck out of the net.

After the first few minutes, the Red Wings re-found their rhythm and took the play to the New York end, creating scoring chances against goalie Mike Richter. Richter made a few tricky saves, showing why he was chosen as the netminder for the US Olympic team. Detroit finally got the puck past him with four and a half minutes left in the period.

Sergei Fedorov stretched out to keep the Rangers from clearing the puck out of the zone and passed it up to Brendan Shanahan, who sent the puck across the goal crease. Amidst the tangle of bodies in front of Richter, Steve Duchesne knocked it down so that Kris Draper could chip it up into the net.

Detroit continued their dominating play through the second period, outshooting the Rangers by a considerable margin. The Red Wings extended their lead by a goal late in the second. Chris Chelios gently poke checked the puck across the blue line away from a New York defenseman, and Darren McCarty brought it back in barely onside. He threaded a pass between some Rangers to Brent Gilchrist, flying up the left wing side. With a well-aimed wrist shot, Gilchrist put the puck past Richter and scored his first goal since October 25, 2000, ending a sixty-eight game slump.

The Rangers got their only power play of the game fourteen minutes into the third period when Igor Larionov was sent to the box for holding. Mark Messier fired on net from the right side. The puck deflected off the stick of Chelios, and Hasek couldn’t see it to stop it.

New York greatly increased the pressure after Messier’s goal gave them some momentum, and the Red Wings were hard pressed to contain them. Even so, the defensemen worked hard, and Hasek worked hard, and the puck stayed out of the net.

The Rangers were unable to pull Richter from net for the extra skater in the last minute, as the Red Wings regained control and headed up the ice. Chelios dumped the puck deep into the New York zone, and it bounced off a stanchion and straight to Draper coming in on the left side. Draper passed straight across to Fedorov, who snapped the puck into the net and put the game away.

Hasek stopped a total of twenty-six shots throughout the game, while Richter stopped thirty-two. The Red Wings will host the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night before heading out on a three-game road trip before the Olympic break.

After Friday, the Red Wings will not play another game at the Joe until March 6.

Rested and Ready for the Old Rivalry

The Detroit-Colorado rivalry may not be what it used to be, having changed over the years from an intense hatred to a strong, if wary, respect. But it still brings out the best play in both teams, and even far away in Denver, there are Red Wings fans who will throw an octopus onto the Pepsi Center’s ice to celebrate a 3-1 Detroit victory.

The Red Wings were well rested from their long weekend, and it showed in their eagerness to play. Detroit controlled the play through most of the first period. Colorado goalie Patrick Roy had to be sharp to keep the puck out of his net. He succeeded, stopping all twelve of the shots he faced through the first twenty minutes. Dominik Hasek responded in kind at the other end of the ice, stopping seven Avalanche shots to keep the game scoreless through twenty minutes.

The Avalanche scored early in the second period. Brad Larson centered the puck from behind the net. It bounced off Jesse Wallin‘s stick, and Scott Parker poked it into the net.

The rest of the second was all Red Wings, taking twenty shots to Colorado’s four. Darren McCarty got Detroit on the scoreboard midway through the period. Sean Avery won the faceoff in Colorado’s zone, and got the puck back to Kirk Maltby, who passed along the blue line to Jesse Wallin. Wallin fired and Roy deflected the shot, but McCarty was well-placed to gather up the rebound and slap it into the net.

McCarty wasn’t done raising his team’s momentum. As is appropriate in a Detroit-Colorado game, he got into a fight. Rick Berry had hit Igor Larionov with what McCarty viewed as unnecessary roughness, and McCarty was not willing to let this go unchallenged. The linesmen broke up the fight and sent both combatants to the penalty box for five minutes.

Avery followed suit before too long, scrapping with Dan Hinote over an interference penalty to Wallin. The fighting majors to Avery and Hinote offset each other, but Wallin’s initial penalty gave the Avalanche a two-minute man advantage.

It did them no good whatsoever. The two Colorado defensemen attempted to pass the puck to each other along Detroit’s blue line to set up a play, but Kris Draper intercepted the pass and broke out of the zone, getting halfway down the ice before the Avalanche realized what had happened. Draper’s initial shot on net was turned away by Roy, but Maltby came trailing the play and sent the rebound over Roy’s right arm to put the Red Wings in the lead.

The Avalanche came back hard in the third period. Detroit concentrated on their defense, but still needed Hasek to make several dazzling saves, and he seemed happy to oblige them. The Red Wings took total control of the game in the last minute, keeping Roy from edging out of the net to let the sixth skater into the play. When Colorado finally got the puck into Detroit’s end, Chris Chelios made a simple poke check to get it away. Nick Lidstrom sent it down the ice on a nicely centered clearing shot which went directly into the empty net, to the delight of the octopus-bearing Red Wings fan.

Shots on net wound up thirty-four to twenty-four in Detroit’s favor, and neither team was able to score on the power play. The Red Wings will return home to face the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Joe.

Jesse Wallin’s assist was his first career NHL point. Steve Yzerman expects to be recovered from his knee surgery in time to play with the team against Montreal on February 11, giving him two games with the Wings before the Olympic break.

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