The Red Wings played a lackluster game overall Thursday night, but star moments from Nick Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, and Sergei Fedorov, as well as a good, solid debut for Jiri Slegr, were enough to carry them over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2.
The game began on a somber note, with a moment of silent remembrance for Brittanie Cecil, the little girl killed by an injury from a deflected puck at the Blue Jackets’ game against Edmonton on Saturday night.
Columbus played a clumsy game in the first period, making several mistakes in attempting to clear the puck from their zone. Even though the Red Wings were able to set up a few scoring chances from the Blue Jackets’ errors, they were unable to put the puck past goaltender Marc Denis.
The Blue Jackets came on harder and the Red Wings eased off in the second period. Columbus opened the scoring just over two minutes in. David Vyborny put an unremarkable shot towards the net, but it slipped past the Red Wings’ defensemen and Ray Whitney managed to redirect it just enough to put it into the net past Dominik Hasek.
Kirk Maltby evened up the game a few minutes later. Nick Lidstrom passed the puck to Maltby, who flew up the right wing side and threw a hard shot towards the net. Igor Larionov was skating towards the net looking to pick up the rebound, but it proved to be unnecessary, as Maltby’s shot bounced off Denis’s blocker and in for the goal.
Columbus regained the lead midway through the period, managing to score against an uninspired Red Wings power play. Espen Knutsen intercepted a pass and took off down the ice, then passed across to Jaroslav Spacek coming up the left wing side. Spacek brought the puck in close to the net, then backhanded a shot over the top of Hasek.
The Red Wings tried to kick up the offense in the third period, but seemed to have to kill off a penalty just as the game’s momentum would be starting to favor them. Sergei Fedorov finally tied the game with less than five minutes remaining. Lidstrom passed neatly to Brendan Shanahan, who fired towards the net, but the puck angled off a Columbus player’s skate and directly to Fedorov, waiting with a hard one-time shot. Denis was being screened by Darren McCarty, and did not see that the puck had angled across to Fedorov, so was completely out of position for the shot.
Just as Fedorov, Shanahan, and Lidstrom sent the game to overtime, they also brought the overtime to a speedy conclusion. Only twenty-five seconds in, Fedorov grabbed up a rebound from Shanahan’s shot, set up by Lidstrom, and skated it quickly around the back of the net, then stuffed it in before Denis could quite realize where the puck had gone.
Shots on goal were twenty-two to twenty-one in the Blue Jackets’ favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver, facing down their archrivals, the Colorado Avalanche.
Trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr, after being a “”21 in the plus/minus rating with Atlanta, was rated a +2 in his first game with his new team…… The Columbus players will wear Brittanie Cecil’s initials on their helmets for the rest of the season. Visiting teams to Nationwide Arena will do likewise, so as to honor the little girl and her family.