Home Is Where The Octopi Are

Home ice advantage became at last an advantage, and in a big way. The Red Wings returned to Joe Louis Arena, and left the crowd making noises which suit them much better than Friday night’s boos: cheers– loud, raucous, hopeful playoff cheers. The Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead by shutting out the Canucks, 4-0.

The goal scoring all came in the first period. The first goal came on a power play set off by a roughing call to Todd Warriner. Brendan Shanahan shot the puck from the left side. The rebound bounced off Dan Cloutier and right up the center, through several pairs of legs. Sergei Fedorov got to it and one-timed a wrist shot through the Vancouver players and into the net four minutes into the game, just thirty-four seconds after the start of the power play.

The Red Wings then were faced with killing off three penalties in a row. They succeeded, controlling the puck and keeping the Canucks from setting up any of their planned plays. Dominik Hasek was huge in the net, stretching and reaching to keep the red goal light off.

Detroit scored their second goal shorthanded, towards the end of the string of penalties. Fedorov intercepted the puck at Detroit’s blue line, and took off down the ice with Mathieu Dandenault. Fedorov passed the puck, and Dandenault shot it between Cloutier’s legs and into the net.

Brett Hull and Boyd Devereaux scored to put the Wings up by three. Nick Lidstrom passed the puck up the ice to Hull, barely onside. Hull’s shot bounced off Cloutier, and straight to Devereaux, who had sneaked to the net behind all of the Vancouver players. Devereaux easily put the puck into the wide open net.

Vancouver coach Marc Crawford changed things around after that. He pulled Cloutier out of the game and replaced him with backup goalie Peter Skudra. The Wings tested Skudra thoroughly in the remainder of the first period, giving him no chance to get comfortable in the net. Fedorov scored again with 1:29 remaining. Devereaux detained Todd Bertuzzi, allowing Jiri Fischer to clear the puck from Detroit’s zone. Fedorov and Brett Hull stole the puck from the Canucks attempting to hold it in at the line, and they were away. Hull carried the puck up the left side and threw it towards Skudra. Fedorov went to the net, put out his stick with one hand, and neatly deflected Hull’s shot into the goal.

Detroit played an intelligent game for the remaining two periods, taking few chances that would allow the Canucks to score. Hasek continued to be vital to the team, stopping every shot the tight Detroit defense allowed. Fischer kept big Bertuzzi from becoming a threat to either the score or the players. The Red Wings controlled the puck for most of the game, defending their goal by keeping the puck in Vancouver’s zone or at center. “Hey, we’re old and we’re smart,” said defenseman Steve Duchesne.

Shots on net were thirty to twenty-five in favor of the Red Wings. The teams will return to Vancouver tonight to play Game Six on Saturday evening.

This was Dominik Hasek’s seventh career playoff shutout?. Jason Williams returned to the lineup tonight; Pavel Datsyuk was given a rest?. Vancouver general manager Brian Burke complained bitterly about the officiating after Game Four, claiming that the referees were giving the Red Wings an unfair advantage. But after his team had four straight power plays and did not manage to score, what is he going to find to complain about in his next press conference? ?. Can the Red Wings wrap up the series on Saturday night? “We’ll see when we get there,” said Sergei Fedorov.

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