Ready for a New Start

The Red Wings themselves have reminded fans and reporters all season that the regular season means nothing- everything comes down to what happens in the playoffs. Hopefully they were right, as they did not end the regular season on the best of notes, going down 5-3 to the St. Louis Blues.

Dominik Hasek‘s game did not get off to the start he would have hoped: the Blues scored on their first shot of the game, less than a minute into the first period. Ray Ferraro flung the shot on net from the left wing side, and it bobbled off of Hasek’s stick, under his arm, and into the net.

Detroit had three power play opportunities in the first period, but were unable to score until early in the second. Uwe Krupp got the puck away from the Blues and passed it up to Luc Robitaille, who got it to Sergei Fedorov flying up the right wing side. Fedorov released a quick wrist shot which flew into the net past goaltender Fred Brathwaite’s outstretched glove.

The Red Wings ran into penalty trouble in the second, and St.Louis was able to score two power play goals. The first, during a slashing call to Chris Chelios, was scored by Pavol Demitra, who rushed towards the net, took the pass from Keith Tkachuk and wristed the puck past Hasek.

The next Blues goal came during a five-on-three situation resulting from overlapping penalties to Steve Duchesne and Boyd Devereaux. Scott Young fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom and into the net. Hasek, being screened by Tkachuk, had no chance to see the redirected shot.

The Red Wings came on harder offensively in the third period, and were rewarded with a shorthanded goal. Kris Draper kicked the puck away from the St. Louis defenseman at the blue line and took off down the ice all alone. He drew Brathwaite out of the net in one direction and immediately put the puck in the other way to bring the Wings within one.

Daniel Corso answered for the Blues less than a minute later. Hasek had come out of the net to clear the puck away, but it was intercepted and Corso got it behind the net and in on a wraparound shot before Hasek could get back into place.

The Red Wings continued to come on, and scored a power play goal with five and half minutes left in the third. Jason Williams took a blue line pass from Robitaille, and released a quick one-timer which went right through Brathwaite.

Unfortunately, the Blues put the game away for good on a controversial goal with less than two minutes to play. Hasek came behind the net to settle the puck for his defenseman, but he was knocked on his back by a St. Louis attacker, and Cory Stillman scored into the empty net.

Shots on net were twenty-eight to twenty-four in favor of the Blues. The Red Wings will begin the playoffs on either Wednesday or Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Steve Yzerman warmed up with the team before the game, but did not play so as to rest his knee for a few more days”¦. Sergei Fedorov, injured in the third period yesterday by an errant shot, showed no damage in precautionary x-rays and had no swelling…. The Red Wings’ season record of 51-17-10-4 is their second best in team history.

Shaping Up the Western Conference

In spite of a much stronger game than the Red Wings have played since clinching the President’s Trophy, a few errors in judgment allowed the St. Louis Blues to get by and win 3-2 in overtime.

The Red Wings opened the scoring early in the first period. Chris Chelios fired a hard shot from the blue line, and Brett Hull got the blade of his stick down to the ice to redirect the puck into the net past goaltender Brent Johnson.

The Blues came back to tie a few moments later. The puck slipped away from the Red Wings, and Dallas Drake was able to pick it up and go in all alone against Dominik Hasek. Drake released the shot quickly, before Hasek could set himself, and the puck rattled into the net.

Detroit regained the lead near the end of the first period on a power play resulting from a holding penalty to Ray Ferraro. Igor Larionov played the puck from behind the net out front to Pavel Datsyuk. The rebound from Datsyuk’s shot came free to Jason Williams, who scooped the puck in behind Johnson.

The Blues tied the game back up midway through the second period. Hasek came out of the net to clear the puck away, but the clearing pass was intercepted by Keith Tkachuk, who quickly centered the puck to be tapped into the net by Pavol Demitra.

Both teams tightened up after this, neither one willing to open up the offense and risk making a mistake which could lead to an opposing goal. Detroit got control of the puck in the St. Louis zone at the very end of the third period, but Johnson was ready and able to stop the shots the Wings threw towards him, sending the game to overtime.

Chris Pronger gave the Blues their game winning goal with just over a minute left to play in the overtime period. Hasek stepped out of the net again, this time apparently to take a shove at Doug Weight, and Pronger’s shot went right into the empty net.

Each team took twenty-five shots on goal. The Wings were one for four on the power play, while the Blues did not manage to convert on any of their three power play attempts. The Red Wings will close out their regular season tomorrow afternoon when the Blues come to close out the home-and-home series.

Sergei Fedorov appeared to be injured in the third period when a shot fired towards the net struck him just above the ankle. He was putting some weight on it as he left the ice, but did not return to the game… The Blues’ win today means that they can finish no lower than sixth place in the Western Conference standings… A loss tonight by the Vancouver Canucks will make them the eighth place team and the Red Wings’ first round opponents.

Mac’s 100th Lifts Wings to Tie With ‘Hawks

After going scoreless for ten games, Darren McCarty finally scored his one-hundreth career goal, lifting the Wings to a three – three tie with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Mccarty’s goal came with just 5:03 remaining in the third. With the puck hovering in the crease and Chicago netminder Steve Passmore struggling to find it, McCarty dove at the goalmouth and knocked in the game-tying goal.

The Red Wings had pulled within one only 1:26 earlier, when Igor Larionov beat Steve Passmore at the 13:31 mark of the period.

Chicago opened the scoring midway through the first period, with Eric Daze rifling a shot past Dominik Hasek at 11:36. Sergei Fedorov tied the game last in the period and the score was one – one after twenty minutes of play.

The Blackhawks controlled the second period, picking up a goal from Phil Housley only a minute in and a goal from Steve Thomas with 5:11 remaining.

Down by two with one period remaining, the Red Wings shelled Passmore with seventeen shots in the third, including the goals by Larionov and McCarty.

In all, Passmore stopped thirty-seven of the forty shots he faced, while Hasek made twenty saves on twenty-three shots.

The Red Wings are next in action on Saturday, when they face the Blues in St. Louis as part of a season-ending home-and-home series.

Sharks Chomp Down

The first multiple-goal game of Jason Williams‘ young NHL career was not enough to make up for the Red Wings’ defensive mistakes or the determination and skill of the San Jose offense, and the Red Wings went down to the Sharks 6-3, while the theme from “Jaws” blared over the speakers in the Shark Tank.

The Red Wings started out with more jump to their offensive game, but got into penalty trouble early on when they got caught with too many men on the ice. The Sharks’ power play passed effectively and got the puck to Mike Ricci behind the net. Ricci passed it out front to Patrick Marleau, who put the puck into the net high over Manny Legace.

Detroit continued to pressure offensively, and Legace made some big saves to cover his team’s defensive lapses. The Red Wings scored their first goal on their fourth power play attempt late in the first period during a hooking penalty to Gary Suter. Sergei Fedorov passed the puck from the left point up to Brendan Shanahan behind the goal line, and Shanahan passed it back to Jason Williams at the left faceoff dot. Williams took a quick wrist shot and put it into the net past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, whose view of the puck was blocked by Tomas Holmstrom.

San Jose regained the lead early in the second period on another power play goal, this one on a penalty to Uwe Krupp. Owen Nolan got the puck as it bounced off the boards, then fired quickly on net, using Mathieu Dandenault as a screen to keep Legace from seeing the shot before the puck was in the net.

The Sharks scored again within a few minutes. A bad turnover by the Red Wings gave Nolan a breakaway. Legace stopped the first shot, but Nolan was able to pick up his own rebound and bank it into the net off the leg of his teammate, Vincent Damphousse.

Williams put Detroit back within one goal shortly thereafter. Kirk Maltby held the puck in at the blue line, then fired on net. Darren McCarty redirected the puck to slide underneath Nabokov, and Williams tapped it in for that extra speed it needed to cross the goal line.

The rest of the second period was all Sharks. Marleau scored two more times before the period was over, first by knocking a rebound from Marco Sturm’s shot out of the air and into the net, and then by intercepting a pass by Jiri Slegr and going in on Legace all alone.

The Wings did score once more, midway through the third period. Nabokov had been given a penalty for roughing Holmstrom (the penalty was served by Marleau), and Holmstrom was the one to make him pay for it. Igor Larionov shot the puck from the blue line, and Holmstrom deflected it into the net.

A fight started by Scott Thornton against Sean Avery and joined by the other skaters on the ice led to a double penalty to Avery and a single penalty to Bryan Marchment, leaving the Red Wings shorthanded and taking away their chance to come back from their two-goal deficit. Teemu Selanne took the puck into the left wing corner and passed down and across just as he was being hit. Mike Rathje, coming up the right wing side, got Selanne’s pass and put it off the crossbar and into the net past the beleaguered Legace.

The shots on goal were thirty-four to thirty-two in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings will return home and have a few days off before facing the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The Sharks’ victory tonight moves them past the Colorado Avalanche into second place in the Western Conference standings”¦. Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios were both healthy scratches for this game”¦. Steve Yzerman is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night against Chicago.

Lackluster Wings Fall to LA

A third period rally after a ho-hum first and second period weren’t enough to save the Red Wings, and they went down to the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0.

Faceoffs are a main key to creating scoring chances, and the Kings were really able to dominate the Red Wings on that skill. Detroit’s problems were compounded late in the first period when they had to kill off twenty-six seconds of a five-on-three penalty from overlapping calls to Igor Larionov and Mathieu Dandenault. The penalty killers kept organized and didn’t let the Kings set up any quality shots, and Dominik Hasek stopped the shots which did get through to the net. Hasek and Kings’ goalie Felix Potvin each stopped six shots in the first.

Los Angeles dominated defensively in the second period, turning small defensive mistakes and faceoff losses by the Red Wings into scoring chances. Hasek continued to be huge, turning all shots aside until only 6:41 was remaining in the period. Cliff Ronning passed the puck from the boards across to Aaron Miller at the blue line, and Miller fired hard on net. Hasek came out to challenge the shot, but the puck got past him and bounced off each goalpost before settling into the net.

The Kings scored again before the end of the period. Adam Deadmarsh shook off Sean Avery at the blue line, causing a two-on-one, then passed across to Jason Allison going to the net. Allison flipped the puck in past Hasek.

The Red Wings tried to come back hard in the third period, but this time it was Potvin’s turn to shine. Potvin played deep in his net and stopped every shot the Wings could throw at him. A lost faceoff in Detroit’s zone wound up putting Los Angeles ahead for good. The Kings got control of the puck, and Allison got the puck to Kelly Buchberger, who squeezed between Larionov and Brett Hull to put the puck into the net.

Shots were thirty-one to twenty-eight in Detroit’s favor. Half of the Wings’ shots on net came in the third period. The Red Wings will end their West Coast road trip on Saturday night, when they face the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks.

Tonight’s wins by Los Angeles over Detroit and San Jose over Phoenix leave LA and Phoenix tied for fifth place in the Western Conference. This means that if the playoffs started today, the first round matchups would be Detroit against Edmonton, Colorado against St. Louis, San Jose against Los Angeles, and Chicago against Phoenix.

Tied at the Pond

Uwe Krupp finally returned to the lineup in a solid defensive debut, and Luc Robitaille broke a goal slump with the Red Wings’ only goal, as the Wings and Mighty Ducks skated to a 1-1 tie.

Neither team was able to score in the choppy first period, in spite of two power play chances for each team. Anaheim goaltender Steve Shields was injured midway through the period when Tomas Holmstrom was shoved into his net, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere came out to replace him.

The Ducks opened the scoring early in the second period, during a holding penalty to Uwe Krupp carried over from the end of the first. Paul Kariya fired a shot on net from a very tight angle. Dominik Hasek was able to block the shot, but the rebound came loose to Jeff Friesen, who tapped it into the net on his backhand.

The Red Wings tied up the game midway through the second. Holmstrom passed from behind the Anaheim net to Luc Robitaille waiting in front of the goal line on the right wing side. Robitaille wristed a shot low between Giguere’s legs to score his thirtieth goal of the season, breaking an eleven-game goal slump.

Anaheim came on strong in the beginning of the third period, but Hasek was up for the challenge and did not allow the Ducks to score again. However, because of the Ducks’ defensive style of blocking up center ice, neither were the Red Wings able to put the puck past Giguere again.

Krupp took a hooking penalty early in the overtime, giving Anaheim a four-on-three advantage. The Wings’ penalty killing unit stayed organized and kept the Ducks away from the front of the net, and Hasek was able to block the shots that did get through.

Hasek stopped twenty-nine of thirty shots during the game. Shields blocked five of five before his injury, and Giguere stopped seventeen of the eighteen he faced. The Red Wings will play next on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Steve Yzerman traveled out west with the team, but will probably not play. Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were both left home to rest and recover from minor bumps and bruises. Brett Hull and Sergei Fedorov, with 29 goals apiece, are both poised and waiting to join Brendan Shanahan and Luc Robitaille as the team’s 30+ goal scorers. Robitaille’s goal makes this his twelfth consecutive 30+ goal season.

Leafs Put Up A Fight

The Red Wings played a hard game, as they always do against this Original Six rival, but the Toronto Maple Leafs, desperately fighting for playoff positioning, were able to get past them 5-4 in overtime.

The Red Wings took an early lead, just over a minute into the game. Tomas Holmstrom passed the puck up to Igor Larionov, who carried it into the Toronto zone, deked between two Leafs’ defensemen, and placed a well-aimed wrist shot past goaltender Corey Schwab.

The Maple Leafs came back just a few minutes later. Jonas Hoglund got the puck out from a tangle along the boards and snapped a fast wrist shot past Manny Legace.

Detroit regained the lead only twenty-five seconds later, when Sergei Fedorov flew up the left wing side with the puck and took a hard shot from just outside the blue line. The puck slid into the net before Schwab could get his right leg pad down.

Again, Toronto got even quickly, this time on a breakaway goal by Alexander Mogilny. The Leafs then broke the pattern by taking the lead for themselves with just under two minutes left in the period. Aki Berg shot the puck from the left point, and the rebound bounced away from Legace and landed by the side of the net, where Darcy Tucker was able to tap it into the net.

The Leafs concentrated mainly on defense in the second period, keeping the Red Wings from getting the puck into the zone, or at least forcing them to shoot it in and then chase after it. Schwab played like a completely different goalie, blocking shots that no one would have expected him to block, and keeping the Wings from tying the game. Toronto increased their lead at the very end of the period, when Bryan McCabe fired a hard shot from the right wing side. Michael Renberg, waiting in front of the net, got just enough of his stick on the puck to redirect it into the net.

Detroit tried to increase their offense in the third period, but Schwab continued to play like a man inspired, and the Wings were unable to score until the period was more than halfway over. Fedorov won a deep-zone faceoff and got the puck back to Brett Hull, who slid the puck along the blue line to Nick Lidstrom. Lidstrom’s shot was deflected by Boyd Devereaux, and the puck then bounced off the defenseman Berg and into the net.

With the momentum from Devereaux’s goal, the Red Wings were able to tie the game moments later. Brendan Shanahan went to the front of the net, stick on the ice and waiting. Meanwhile, Hull passed the puck up the middle to Mathieu Dandenault, who faked a shot then passed to Shanahan, who flipped the puck past Schwab.

Legace and Schwab both made some huge saves in the final moments of the game to necessitate overtime. Legace especially was great, making an amazing stop on Mats Sundin all alone in front of the net with less than a minute remaining.

Unfortunately, Legace wasn’t so lucky against Sundin in the overtime. A two on one rush up the ice gave Sundin his opportunity. Steve Duchesne did manage to take away the option to pass the puck, but Sundin put the puck in high over Legace’s shoulder.

Shots on net were thirty-five to twenty-six in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be the start of their final West Coast trip of the regular season- they will play Anaheim on Wednesday night, then Los Angeles on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday, before returning to the Joe.

Toronto’s win tonight clinched them a playoff spot. So far, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto are all guaranteed to make the playoffs in the East, while Detroit has the only guaranteed spot in the West.

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