Wings Hold Off Late Sharks Surge

Even after signing their holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, the San Jose Sharks are still not quite up to form. They showed some progress from the 6-3 season opener on October 10, but the Red Wings again defeated the Sharks, this time with a score of 3-2, to give goaltender Curtis Joseph his 350th career victory.

The Red Wings improved their defensive play somewhat after Saturday’s breakdown against Nashville, and allowed the Sharks only seven shots on net in the first period. The Wings also gained an advantage by getting the first power play of the game, 7:53 into the first. With Scott Hannan in the penalty box for hooking, the Detroit power play had a chance to give the Wings an early lead. Luc Robitaille passed the puck neatly from the right boards up to Igor Larionov behind the net. Larionov saw then that three of the four Sharks on the ice were covering Brett Hull in the slot area, but that Sergei Fedorov was moving quietly into position near the left faceoff circle. Larionov threaded the pass through to Fedorov, and Fedorov placed a well-aimed one-timer just over the right shoulder of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

Owen Nolan tied the game up for the Sharks early in the second period. Niklas Sundstrom sent the puck out from the corner to Nolan in open ice, and Nolan let go a low shot which went past Curtis Joseph, off the right goalpost, and into the net.

Jason Williams regained the lead for Detroit with his first goal of the season. Pavel Datsyuk tied up two Sharks along the right boards, and still managed to pass the puck to Williams in the corner. Williams had space enough to skate out in front of the net and backhand a shot right between Nabokov’s legs.

Nolan again brought the game back to a tie, this time with a power play goal while Nick Lidstrom was in the box for high-sticking. Mike Ricci fired a hard shot from the left point, and the puck tipped off Nolan’s stick and into the net.

The Wings finally got the lead for good early in the third period. They gained a rare five-on-three advantage with Vincent Damphousse and Scott Hannan both in the box. Brendan Shanahan cycled the puck back to Lidstrom at the left point. Lidstrom sent the pass along the blue line to Fedorov, and Fedorov one-timed a laser speed shot which deflected off of Marcus Ragnarsson and into the net.

The Sharks pulled Nabokov from the net to have six skaters in the last minutes of play, but Joseph was ready for them. His reflexes were sharp enough and quick enough to deny Nolan his hat trick and deny the Sharks a trip to overtime.

Final shots on net were twenty-two to twenty in the Red Wings’ favor. The Wings went 2 for 7 on the power play, while the Sharks went 1 for 3. The Red Wings will have a few nights off; their next game is Saturday night in Ottawa against the Senators.

The Red Wings have scored at least one power play goal in each game so far this year… Henrik Zetterberg is still out with an injured groin, Dmitri Bykov is out with an injured shoulder, and Tomas Holmstrom sat this game out with a bruised sternum. Jason Williams, Jesse Wallin, and Sean Avery made their way into the lineup to cover for their injured teammates… Steve Yzerman took to the ice for a light skate at this morning’s practice. It was a very slow, easy skate, but his recovery seems to be progressing on schedule, and he should be back in the lineup by January or February.

Defensive Woes

The Nashville Predators were winless coming into tonight’s game, and they were desperate. They were fully willing to take advantage of any slack the Red Wings might give them. They had some key opportunities to do so. Sloppy Detroit defense and an opportunistic Nashville offense led to a 3-1 win for the Predators.

A defensive lapse early gave the Predators the first goal of the night. Andreas Johansson got the puck away from the boards in Detroit’s zone. He managed to deke around Sergei Fedorov, then around Brendan Shanahan, and slid the puck into the net underneath Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings got their first power play of the game a minute later when Greg Klassen was sent to the box for hooking, and they came back to tie with a crisp passing play. Fedorov held the puck in the Predator’s zone at the right point. He sent it up to Luc Robitaille at the half-boards, and Robitaille passed it to Igor Larionov. Larionov then angled the puck out to Nick Lidstrom, who slapped the puck past Mike Dunham to score his 150th career goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators scored a power play goal of their own less than a minute later, with Kris Draper in the box for high-sticking. Kimmo Timonen shot the puck from the blue line, and Adam Hall tipped it on its way through. With the redirection of the puck and the screen of players in front of the net, Joseph never even had a chance to see the puck before it was too late.

Still the Red Wings couldn’t get their defensive play together, and the Predators took advantage of it again. Andy Delmore got a pass through to David Legwand in the slot, and the rebound from Legwand’s shot was allowed to bounce free to Johansson standing unhindered near the side of the net. Johansson got the puck into the empty space before Joseph could slide across to stop him.

The second and third periods saw the Red Wings tighten their defense somewhat, but not enough to keep Joseph from having to make some spectacular saves. Most notable was a save in the second period against former Red Wing Brent Gilchrist, who got around the net unmolested, took a pass, and flung it at the net. Joseph flung himself across the net so the puck would land harmlessly in his midsection. Joseph also gave the Wings a chance to climb back into the game when he stopped a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Timonen. That time, he dropped his stick to slide across cleanly and keep the puck out.

The Red Wings got a power play with just over three minutes left to play, when Denis Arkhipov was sent out for high-sticking. They even pulled Joseph from the net to go six-on-four for part of the time. They controlled the puck from the start of that power play to the final buzzer, but Dunham came up huge against the barrage of shots, and the Predators came away with their first win of the season.

Dunham stopped thirty-seven of thirty-eight shots throughout the night, while Joseph stopped twenty-seven of thirty. The Red Wings return home for their next game; they will face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday evening. The Sharks recently signed holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a contract, so they will be at full strength for this next meeting.

Sean Avery was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, but was a healthy scratch for this game”¦. Brett Hull suffered a severe cut above his left eye midway through the second period when a Nashville player’s skate came up and hit Hull in the face. Hull was led off and given a lot of stitches by Nashville’s team doctor, but he returned to play in the third period. “Just in time for Halloween,” said Hull about the bloody gash on his forehead.

Fewer Penalties Lead to More Goals for Wings

As dangerous a scoring line as the Red Wings’ penalty kill has been, it isn’t really the way they expect to score. “We don’t go out there thinking we’re going to score a shorthanded goal,” said Kirk Maltby, who has three shorthanded goals already this season. Tonight they didn’t need to. With fewer penalties and more opportunities for offense, the scoring went up. And up. And up, eventually leading to a 7-3 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins actually outplayed the Wings in the early going, and came away with the first goal. Alexei Kovalev took a pass from Michal Roszival and skated into the Detroit zone. He skated around Mathieu Dandenault, stealthily getting a grip on Dandenault’s stick so the defenseman couldn’t poke the puck away. Then Kovalev wristed a shot on net. Goaltender Manny Legace was screened by the defensive action in front and couldn’t see the puck until it had passed him.

Luc Robitaille answered for the Wings three minutes later on a power play. Igor Larionov passed the puck across the rink to Nick Lidstrom at the left point, and Robitaille stood at the front of the net to redirect Lidstrom’s shot past Jean-Sebastien Aubin for his first goal of the season.

Once the Red Wings started to score, they never stopped. The Penguins’ defense, on the other hand, seemed to disappear. Robitaille added goal number two less than a minute later. Jason Williams snatched up the rebound from Jiri Fischer‘s shot. He carried the puck behind the net and sent it back out front, where Robitaille was waiting, stick on the ice, to blast it into the net.

Before Robitaille could try for his third goal, Sergei Fedorov evidently decided he wanted a hat trick of his own. Fedorov took a penalty for hooking early in the second period, but he stepped back out onto the ice just in time to get the puck from Fischer at center ice and take off on a two-on-one rush with Darren McCarty. Fedorov passed, McCarty shot, and Aubin left a rebound that headed straight for Fedorov’s stick, which slapped the puck past Aubin and into the net.

Fedorov scored twice more before the period was half-over. His first was in close to the net, after taking a pass from Chris Chelios. Brendan Shanahan had gone to the front of the net and was screening Aubin, and he jumped up just at the right time to let Fedorov’s shot slide under his feet for the goal. Fedorov’s third goal came on a two-on-one rush with Shanahan, sprung free by Brett Hull at center ice. Fedorov dropped a pass back for Shanahan at the blue line. The defenseman and goalie looked towards Shanahan, but all they could do was watch as he sent the pass back so Fedorov could put it into the net.

Kovalev brought the Penguins within three goals seconds before the period was over with a power play goal from Jan Hrdina and Mario Lemieux. When Ville Niemenin brought Pittsburgh to three goals early in the third, it looked as if the Penguins might be able to work their way back into the game.

Fischer deflated that possibility in less than a minute. Dandenault got the puck up to Larionov on a three-on-two rush. Larionov threaded a tight pass across the goal crease to Fischer, who tapped it into the empty side of the net.

Lidstrom, McCarty, and Draper put the game out of reach for good with 7:25 left in the game. Draper made a good play to hold the puck in at the blue line and get it to McCarty, who tried to stuff it into the net. The rebound squirted free to Draper, who carried it behind the net and sent it to Lidstrom, who one-timed it past Aubin.

Shots on net were 44 to 27 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next game will be Saturday night, when they face the yet-winless Predators in Nashville.

Jason Williams played for Henrik Zetterberg, who is still out with a pulled groin. Williams set up Robitaille’s second goal, for his second point in four games played…. Sean Avery will stay with the Grand Rapids Griffins for a time. “That’s what players want to do, they want to play,” said coach Dave Lewis. “They don’t want to sit. We feel it’s best for Sean to play regularly.”…. Mario Lemieux was impressed by Sergei Fedorov. “He was awesome,” Lemieux said. “The way he skates is dominating, especially in the neutral zone. You can’t defend that. He took over the game.”

Wings Come to Draw With Kings

The Detroit Red Wings skated to a draw with the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. The Wings and Kings both scored one goal in each of the three regulation periods and were held scoreless in overtime.

Los Angeles opened the scoring at the 8:33 mark of the first period. Lubomir Visnovsky fired a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off a skate and past Red Wings netminder Curtis Joseph to put the Kings up 1-0.

Detroit answered back 3:34 later with a power play goal of their own. Tomas Holmstrom beat Kings goalie Felix Potvin, jamming home a rebound on the third attempt.

Los Angeles regained the lead early in the second with another power play goal. Mathieu Schneider took a pass in the high slot and faked out Joseph, beating him to put the Kings up 2-1.

Detroit countered with 7:28 remaining in the second. Pavel Datsyuk scored his first of the season, skating through the slot and beating Potvin on the backhand.

The Red Wings took their first and only lead of the game at 6:26 of the third period. Sergei Fedorov put a slap shot from the high slot past Potvin to put Detroit up 3-2.

Jason Allison finished the game’s scoring near the midway point of the third, deflecting a shot off of Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom‘s stick and past Joseph to put the game at a 3-3 tie.

The teams traded odd-man rushes in overtime before the Kings failed to convert on a power play.

Joseph stopped twenty-eight of thirty-one shots faced for Detroit. Potvin made twenty-five saves on twenty-eight shots for Los Angeles.

Rookie defenseman Dmitri Bykov was a healthy scratch for the first time this season… The Wings are back in action Friday when Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins come to the Joe

Wings’ Special Teams Down Flames

In order to be successful, a hockey team has to be able to take advantage of their power plays and kill off their penalties efficiently. Of course, if they spend over twenty minutes in a game killing penalties, they should probably also learn to score while shorthanded. Chris Chelios and Kirk Maltby demonstrated that skill for the Wings with a shorthanded goal apiece, putting Detroit over the Calgary Flames, 4-0.

The first period had no flow to it whatsoever. Ten minor penalties were assessed by the officials in the first twenty minutes. Neither team was able to score on the power play. Curtis Joseph calmly sent all the Flames’ shots aside, while at the other end of the ice, Jamie McLennan did the same against the Wings. The Wings had scoring chances, even though they bore the brunt of the penalty time, but the first period ended scoreless.

The second period looked as if it would follow the same penalty-filled pattern as the first when Kirk Maltby was sent out for interference. The Red Wings went into penalty-killing mode, dumping the puck down the ice and making the Flames chase after it. Calgary brought the play back down to Detroit’s end, but the Wings got a break. Chris Drury fell while trying to keep the puck in the zone, and Sergei Fedorov stole it away and took off, Brendan Shanahan keeping up on his right and Chris Chelios trailing. Fedorov dropped the pass back to Chelios at Calgary’s blue line. Chelios didn’t have a clear shot, so he sent it back. Fedorov sent a hard pass which Shanahan couldn’t handle, but Chelios had cut to the right and continued to the net, so he was in just the right place to take the puck and flip it high past McLennan for the 175th goal of his career.

Just before Maltby’s penalty was due to end, Jiri Fischer was sent to the box for high-sticking. Maltby waited his four seconds and jumped into the play, helping to keep the puck in the Flames’ end of the rink. When Calgary tried to bring it back, Nick Lidstrom intercepted a pass by Craig Conroy and sent it ahead to Maltby, already speeding up ice. Maltby took position on the left side, used the only defenseman who stayed back as a screen, and put a beautifully placed shot high into McLennan’s net.

The Flames had a chance to get back in the game shortly thereafter. Kris Draper was given a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting from behind. Even so, the Red Wings penalty-killers did so well for the full five minutes that the Flames got only one shot on goal, which Joseph stopped easily. Igor Larionov took Draper’s place centering the Grind Line for the rest of the game.

Tomas Holmstrom scored a power play goal early in the third period, showing that all of Detroit’s special teams were in working order. Dmitri Bykov took a hard shot on net from the blue line. The puck went over the top of the net and bounced off the boards to come back out front. Holmstrom knocked it down and put it just under the crossbar.

Calgary seemed to go flat after that, hardly managing to generate any offense and allowing Detroit to control the game. A defensive lapse by the Flames allowed the fourth Detroit goal. Maltby scooped up the loose puck and headed down the ice with Darren McCarty on a two-on-one. The defenseman dropped to the ice to take away the passing lane, but he dropped too far out from the net. Maltby was able to send the puck across the crease for McCarty to tap it into the net.

McLennan stopped 29 of the thirty-three shots he faced, while Joseph stopped all twenty-four of the shots that made their way through to the net, for his first shutout as a Red Wing. Detroit’s next opponent will be the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night at the Joe.

Joseph’s shutout was the 37th of his career”¦. The Red Wings have now scored 5 shorthanded goals. They have only given up 4 goals while shorthanded. If this keeps up, other teams won’t want to go on the power play against Detroit.

Wings Hand Wild First Loss of Season Before Record Crowd

19,344 people, the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game in the state of Minnesota, gathered at the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild attempt to defend their season-long unbeaten streak against the Detroit Red Wings. The Wild fans went home disappointed, because the Red Wings had other ideas, eventually gaining a 5-3 victory.

Minnesota opened the scoring early in the first period. Wes Walz took advantage of a defensive mistake by rookie Dmitri Bykov and got the puck away on a two-on-two rush. Sergei Fedorov dropped to the ice to take away the passing lane, but Walz instead deked around Fedorov and put the puck into the net through Curtis Joseph‘s five-hole.

The Wild increased their lead about six minutes later. Antti Laaksonen and Bill Muckalt got away another two-on-two rush against Bykov and Nick Lidstrom, Laaksonen passed across to Muckalt, and Muckalt’s hard shot found its way past Joseph.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Red Wings when Kirk Maltby took a penalty for roughing. The penalty killing unit did its work well, and sent the puck down to the Wild’s end of the ice. Nick Schultz went to retrieve it, but he was forced to make a pass without looking with Henrik Zetterberg there to pressure him. To Schultz’s dismay, the errant pass landed right on the stick of Brett Hull, and Hull’s powerful one-time shot went right through goalie Dwayne Roloson.

The Wings surged back then, taking control of the game and cutting down the Wild’s chances to score. Bykov gained his first NHL assist by giving the puck to Kris Draper so that Draper could set up a one-time goal by Darren McCarty, and Lidstrom scored a power play goal to put Detroit into the lead. Fedorov passed along the blue line to Lidstrom at the left point, and Lidstrom’s shot deflected off the stick of Laaksonen and into the net.

Laaksonen tied the game back up early in the second period, on another two-on-two rush. Jiri Fischer tried to take the puck away from Laaksonen, but Laaksonen got the shot away first, and it went into the net high past Joseph’s catching glove.

McCarty put the Wings back in the lead to stay before too long. McCarty pushed to the front of the net. Draper threw the puck at the net from the right half-boards, and McCarty knocked it out of the air to bounce it off Roloson’s helmet and into the net.

Detroit settled the game down in the third period, holding the Wild to only four shots against Joseph. Boyd Devereaux had a good breakaway scoring chance, and the Grind Line continued its steady pressure in the Wild’s zone, but the Wings were careful not to take any unnecessary chances with only a one-goal lead. The Wild did not pull their goaltender for an extra attacker in the final minute, even though they had two faceoffs in Detroit’s zone, but Zetterberg scored into a nearly empty net anyway. Fedorov got the puck away from Minnesota’s attack and took off with it, Zetterberg keeping up on his left. Fedorov made the pass, and Zetterberg tried to pass it back, since Roloson came across to challenge Zetterberg’s shot, but the pass never got through to Fedorov. Instead, the puck hit the skate blade of Filip Kuba and slid into the net to guarantee the Red Wings’ victory with 25 seconds left in the game.

Shots on net were thirty-seven to twenty-two in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings scored on one of their three power plays, bringing their power play to 30% for the season. Detroit’s next game will be at home against the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Detroit’s three shorthanded goals leads the NHL….Jesse Wallin made his season debut, while Max Kuznetsov sat this game out. Wallin played a responsible game, paired with Mathieu Dandenault for most of his time on the ice, and ended with a rating of +1.

Habs Spoil the Home Opener

Before the game, the 2001-2002 Stanley Cup Championship banner was raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with all due ceremony. Scotty Bowman, Dominik Hasek, Steve Duchesne, and Vladimir Konstantinov all were on hand to salute the Stanley Cup one last time before it was taken back to its home in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. It was one last chance for fans, players, coaches, and staff to revel in last season’s glorious ending before settling down to the regular season grind and hopeful road to the 2003 playoffs.

Detroit’s Original Six rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, were on hand to be the first home opponent of the young season. The Canadiens got a slow start in the game, but their excellent goaltending bought them the time they needed to find their rhythm, and they wound up beating the Red Wings by a score of 3-2.

The Red Wings got a power play early in the game, when Richard Zednik was sent out for hooking, and that was all they needed to jump out to an early lead. Tomas Holmstrom brought the puck into the zone and made a short pass to Henrik Zetterberg on the left side. Zetterberg headed for the goal, drawing the defensemen to himself. Meanwhile, Brendan Shanahan had quietly maneuvered in behind the two defensemen. Zetterberg passed across the goal crease, and Shanahan’s tap-in goal caught all of the Canadiens by surprise, including goaltender Jeff Hackett.

The bigger surprise for both teams was that Detroit only had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. They applied steady offensive pressure to a Montreal team who looked to be not entirely prepared defensively. Perhaps Hackett sensed a chance at becoming the Canadiens’ starting goalie if last year’s star Jose Theodore is unable to break out of his slump soon; the winner of last year’s Hart and Vezina Trophies has allowed twelve goals in Montreal’s past two games. Hackett came up huge for his team, stopping eleven shots in the first period alone.

The Canadiens regained their rhythm in the second period, their confidence aided by scoring a goal in the early going. Andreas Dackell was able to backhand the rebound into the net after Joe Juneau’s shot just barely trickled free from Curtis Joseph‘s catching glove. The Red Wings continued to put the puck on net at every opportunity, but Hackett remained solid, and the game was tied after two periods.

The Red Wings lost their lead a few minutes into the third period. Zednik and Saku Koivu got away on a two on one rush against Dimitri Bykov, with defensive partner Max Kuznetsov held up in the neutral zone. Bykov tried to take the passing lane away, while Pavel Datsyuk tried at top speed to get to Koivu and take him out of the play, but the pass was released and Koivu sent the shot into the net just as Datsyuk got him enough off balance to send them both sliding into the end boards.

Danny Markov scored what would be Montreal’s eventual game-winner just about midway through the period. The teams were four-on-four, resulting from overlapping penalties to Kirk Maltby and Joe Juneau. Yanic Perreault shot the puck towards the Detroit net. The puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom, but with Joseph out of the net a little way to challenge Perreault’s shot, Markov was able to get the deflection and put it in behind Joseph before Luc Robitaille was able to get himself properly positioned to cover Markov.

Datsyuk brought the Wings back within one with just over six minutes left to play. Robitaille got the puck from a left side scrum and centered it to Datsyuk, who let fly a fast, hard, one-time shot that Hackett didn’t even see until it was behind him and the red goal light was already on.

The Red Wings went on the attack then. Most of their third period shots on net came in these last few minutes. Hackett was ready. Even when Detroit pulled Joseph to send in the extra attacker, Hackett kept the Canadiens in the lead, stopping shots by Holmstrom, Brett Hull, and Sergei Fedorov in quick succession. Eventually time ran down, and the banner celebrating last year’s glory looked down over the reminder that this season still has many, many games left to go.

Shots on net were thirty-two to fourteen in favor of the Red Wings.

The Wings’ next game will be on the road; they travel to Minneapolis to face the as-yet unbeaten Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Boyd Devereaux returned to the lineup tonight. His broken thumb healed more quickly than expected, and his “Two Kids and an Old Goat” line with Pavel Datsyuk and Brett Hull was reunited. Stacy Roest was moved to the Grand Rapids Griffins to make room for Devereaux in the lineup.

Fluke Goal Helps Lift Wings Over Ducks

Sticks were high in Anaheim: three times, the Mighty Ducks got away with cutting Red Wing players with high sticks unseen by the referees, even though a high stick which draws blood is supposed to be an automatic double minor. But the Red Wings’ shot percentage was also high, and Manny Legace‘s save percentage was high, and the Red Wings will come home with a 4-2 victory over the Ducks.

Brendan Shanahan scored his first goal of the season in the first minute of the game. Jason Williams passed the puck across the rink and across the blue line, and Shanahan got in after it. With two Anaheim defenders closing in, he wristed the shot, and the puck soared over the arm of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Most of the second half of the first period was spent with the Red Wings in penalty-killing mode. Even though the Ducks had over a full minute of 5-on-3 advantage with Darren McCarty and Nick Lidstrom both in the box, Mathieu Dandenault, Chris Chelios, and Sergei Fedorov kept Anaheim from setting up an effective scoring chance, and Manny Legace stopped any shots which made it through.

Legace came up huge for his team early in the second period as well. Peter Sykora got through on a breakaway while the Ducks were shorthanded, but Legace gloved the high shot, leaving Sykora shaking his head in confusion.

Again, the second period was full of penalties. The Wings were able to capitalize on a hooking call to their former teammate Freddy Olausson with just over a minute left in the period. Luc Robitaille passed the puck from the blue line to Chelios on the left wing side, then Chelios dropped the puck back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom one-timed the shot, and Giguere had little chance to see it, screened as he was by Robitaille and one of his own defenders.

Thirty seconds later came a strange goal, a rare “gift” goal. Shanahan was going to be sent to the penalty box on a delayed call, and Giguere had left the net so the sixth skater could come in. Anaheim was applying pressure in the Detroit zone. Adam Oates turned with the puck near the side of the net to pass it back to a teammate at the blue line.

The teammate was not there. The puck slid down, down, all the way down the length of the rink and directly into the empty net. Shanahan, being the last Red Wing to touch the puck before Oates, was given credit for the goal before being sent away to the box. Paul Kariya put the Ducks on the board during the resulting power play when the puck bounced from a skate to his stick while he was waiting in front of the net.

The third period settled down for both teams. Ruslan Salei did bring Anaheim back within one goal by one-timing a shot up the center while his teammates screened Legace, but Henrik Zetterberg‘s first NHL goal ensured a Detroit victory. The goal came on the power play. Chris Chelios fired a hard shot from the right point. The rebound bounced back out on the left where Zetterberg waited. He one-timed the bouncing puck into the net before Giguere could slide back across.

The Ducks pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining, but the Red Wings kept control, and kept the shots away from Legace. Final shot totals were thirty-two to thirty in favor of Detroit.

The Red Wings play next in their home opener on Thursday night, when they will raise the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before hosting the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six matchup.

Back Down To Earth

All hockey players learn that lucky bounces are fickle things. They also learn that a ready, excited team with faith in its goaltender is much more difficult to play against than less-prepared teams starting a young backup goalie because the regular starter isn’t under contract yet. All the bounces that helped the Red Wings on Thursday night went against them on Saturday night, and they took their first loss of the season from the inspired Los Angeles Kings, 3-2.

The Kings got a very lucky break only twenty-seven seconds into the game. Nick Lidstrom attempted to send the puck around the back of the net. Instead, the puck hit one of the stanchions which hold the glass together and bounced back out front, right to the stick of Jason Allison. Allison was then able to slap the puck into the net past Curtis Joseph.

Detroit had a very good power play and a chance to tie the game when Ziggy Palffy was sent to the penalty box for obstruction holding. Even so, the full two minutes plus sustained pressure by the Grind Line directly afterwards were ineffective against Felix Potvin, who proved to be, as he so often does, a thorn in the sides of the Red Wings’ forwards.

The Red Wings got their first goal with 6:45 left in the period. Pavel Datsyuk set up a short pass to Brett Hull, who was already moving up the right wing side. Meanwhile, Kris Draper streaked up the left side, unseen by the Kings’ defense. Hull passed across, Draper got his stick down, and Potvin dove to make the save, but the puck hit the post and went back into the net.

Los Angeles pulled back in front soon enough. Ian Laperriere came up with the puck after a scrum in the left corner of the Detroit zone and sent it to the front of the net. Brad Chartrand was there waiting all alone, and he put it past Joseph for the goal.

With just under three minutes remaining, a double minor for high sticking was called against Jiri Fischer, putting him into the box for four minutes. The Kings capitalized on their power play just after the first two minutes had gone by. Jaroslav Modry fired a hard shot from the blue line. The puck bounced off Joseph and out to Allison near the high slot, and he one-timed the shot into the net.

The Wings came out more organized in the second period. They had two more power plays with excellent offensive pressure, but again, Potvin kept the shots away, and the score remained 3-1 after two periods.

Detroit came back within one point early in the third period, during a power play. Sergei Fedorov passed from the middle of the blue line up to Igor Larionov at the right side of the net, and Larionov centered a pass for Brett Hull. Hull one-timed the shot through a screen of players, and Potvin had no chance to see or stop it.

The Kings shut down defensively even more then, giving the Red Wings little chance to get the puck towards the net. As time was becoming a factor, and Detroit seemed ready to pull out all the offensive pressure they could find, penalty disaster struck. First, Larionov was handed a two minute penalty for holding. Then, just a few seconds after that penalty expired, Fedorov accidentally high-sticked Mathieu Schneider and cut him, which is an automatic four-minute double minor. This incident, coming with 3:24 remaining, essentially negated any chance the Wings had to set up some offensive play. They did manage to get enough control of the play to pull Joseph for the extra skater, but there were less than thirty seconds remaining by then, and that just wasn’t enough time.

Joseph stopped twenty-three of twenty-six shots he faced, while Potvin stopped twenty-seven of twenty-nine. The Red Wings will wrap up their West Coast trip Sunday night against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

This was Igor Larionov’s 800th game in the NHL.

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