Chris Chelios kept big Todd Bertuzzi neutralized. Steve Yzerman refused to be neutralized. Dominik Hasek kept the red light off. Sergei Fedorov?. well, the list could go on through the full roster. The Heroes of Hockeytown did what they do best- they won the game 4-2, tying their series with the Vancouver Canucks at two games apiece and bringing the series back to Detroit.
The first period scoring belonged to the Red Wings, even though the Canucks managed to outshoot them nine to four. Jiri Fischer put the Wings on the board with the very first shot against Dan Cloutier. Fischer shot the puck from the left point with Steve Yzerman skating towards the net, but Yzerman did not need to deflect the shot; the puck bounced off the stick of Brent Sopel and into the net.
Chris Chelios scored on a power play midway through the first period to give the Wings a two-goal lead. He fired from the right point, with Yzerman and Tomas Holmstrom both screening Cloutier, and the puck redirected off of Trevor Linden and into Cloutier’s net.
Hockey wisdom holds that a two-goal lead is the hardest lead to keep, and this case was no exception. Vancouver answered with two goals of their own in the second period. The first came midway through the period. Trevor Letowski took the puck behind the net, and Mattias Ohlund sneaked past Pavel Datsyuk to get to the front of the net. Letowski centered the puck, and Ohlund slapped it into the net past Dominik Hasek.
The Red Wings controlled the puck for most of the rest of the second period, but had to kill off a hooking penalty to Chelios with 2:32 remaining. With just one second left on the Vancouver power play, Sopel shot the puck from the blue line, and Matt Cooke redirected it in mid-air to tie the game at two.
Detroit regained the lead quickly once the third period started. Sergei Fedorov shot the puck on net, and Cloutier left the tiniest of rebounds. Yzerman pounced on the loose puck before Cloutier could regain control, and he dragged it past the goaltender’s prone body and tapped it into the net.
The Red Wings kept control of the puck through most of the rest of the period, in spite of two Vancouver power plays. The Canucks played more desperately towards the end and generated some good quality scoring chances, but Hasek was exactly where he needed to be at all times to keep the lead for his team. Vancouver gained an offensive zone faceoff with just over a minute to play, so they pulled Cloutier in exchange for a sixth skater, thinking to force an overtime. It did them no good, as Darren McCarty cleared the puck from the zone to Kris Draper flying up center ice. Draper put the puck into the empty net to put the game away, and then slid in after it because he was skating too quickly to stop in time.
Shots on net were twenty-four to fourteen in favor of the Canucks, giving Hasek a 91.6% save percentage and Cloutier a save percentage of 78.5%. Game Five of the series will be Thursday evening at Joe Louis Arena.
Jiri Fischer’s goal was the first playoff goal of his career?. Steve Yzerman’s assist and goal give him a career total of 159 playoff points, moving him one point past Gordie Howe‘s record for all-time Red Wings playoff scoring.