Penalties Tell the Game Story

The one and only matchup this season between last year’s Stanley Cup finalists should have been an intense, entertaining game. Instead, it became an overload of penalties. The Carolina Hurricanes scored on five of a ludicrous nine power plays they were given, and in spite of the Red Wings’ best efforts to score during their rare times at even strength or with the man advantage, they still wound up on the losing end of a 6-4 game.

Detroit scored twice in the first period, both times in four-on-four play. First Brett Hull waited patiently in the high slot, as he does. When Nick Lidstrom sent a well placed pass across from the right side, Hull sent a one-time shot soaring into the net past goalie Kevin Weekes. The second goal came from Kirk Maltby, who crossed the blue line with the puck and wristed a shot past the partially screened goaltender.

Weekes was injured shortly after Maltby’s goal, while the Wings were attempting to score shorthanded. Maltby shoved Bret Hedican towards the net after the play stopped. Hedican fell on top of Weekes, who hit his head. Weekes was helped off the ice and Arturs Irbe came out to take his place.

Pavel Datsyuk was also injured in the first period. He was shoved and fell into Sean Hill. It seemed at first as if he had hit his head, but team personnel later reported that Datsyuk had actually hurt his knee and would need to go for further testing.

The second period saw the Hurricanes come back to tie and take the lead, with one power play goal after another. Jan Hlavac was able to score by tapping the rebound from a Bates Battaglia shot in past Curtis Joseph. A few minutes later, David Tanabe scored the equalizer with a hard shot from the blue line. Igor Larionov dropped to block the shot, but the shot was high enough to glance off the top of his skate and fly past Joseph into the net. Hlavac scored again to take the lead, this time on a tidy passing play. Erik Cole sent a pass from the left boards to Battaglia at the right side of the net, and Battaglia put it out front for Hlavac to whack in for the goal.

Henrik Zetterberg scored just before the period was over, tying the game back up. Tomas Holmstrom made a play to Luc Robitaille, who left a saucer pass for Zetterberg. The rookie made a move around Hill and put the puck in on Irbe’s far side.

Carolina’s fourth power play goal was Hlavac’s third of the game. He waited in front of the net, got a rebound from Rod Brind’amour’s shot, and put it high past Lidstrom and Joseph both.

Hull tied the game again when the Red Wings got the best break they had all night. Penalties to Glen Wesley and to Cole resulted in a 5-on-3 power play, and the Detroit power play used the opportunity to show off its best passing skills. Igor Larionov sent the puck from the right side of the net down to Lidstrom at the right point, and Lidstrom sent the puck across to Hull. Hull’s hard one-time shot flew into the net before Irbe even had a chance to see it.

Unfortunately, a questionable hooking call against Chris Chelios (he lifted the stick of Sami Kapanen to keep him from shooting the puck, and Kapanen’s feet somehow just flew out from under him) gave the Hurricanes the chance to get their fifth power play goal and take the lead for good. Brind’amour’s shot went off the skate of Mathieu Dandenault, and the rebound came out to Jeff O’Neill, who was able to slap it past Joseph.

Carolina actually did manage to score an even strength goal. Kapanen received the puck from Ron Francis. He turned with it and fired. Joseph was partially screened, and the puck just glanced off the top of his catching glove.

Detroit took a total of 28 shots on net. Carolina, aided by their power plays, had 41.

The Red Wings’ next game will be Sunday night at home against the Calgary Flames.

Brett Hull is now on an eight-game point streak, and just 12 goals away from the 700th of his career…. Associate coach Barry Smith said that Pavel Datsyuk’s knee had been “wrenched,” and information about the extent of the injury would be given as it became available.

Third Time a Charm for Wings in OT

The Detroit Red Wings tied the Edmonton Oilers, 1-1, ater overtime last Friday in Edmonton. The Wings then fell to the Oilers, 5-4, in sudden-death at Joe Louis Arena on Monday. Wednesday night the third time was the charm for the Wings as Kris Draper scored just 1:55 into the extra period to give Detroit a 3-2 win over New Jersey.

Draper had stolen the puck as the Devils attempted to clear the zone. Kirk Maltby carried in and took a shot at New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur and Draper streaked in to pick up the rebound and flip it over the sprawling Brodeur and into the open net.

The goal came shortly after New Jersey through they had won the game. As New Jersey carried the puck into the Red Wings’ zone, a shot was deflected to Devils forward John Madden, who knocked the puck in with his skate. Upon review, the replay official determined that the puck was kicked in and the goal was disallowed.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring in the first period with Dmitri Bykov‘s first career NHL goal. Sean Avery won a faceoff in the New Jersey zone back to Bykov, who ripped a shot past Brodeur to put the Wings up, 1-0, at 8:59 of the first period.

The Devils tied things up less than a minute later. Turner Stevenson punched a shot past Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph at 9:52, evening the scoring at one goal apiece.

New Jersey took the lead early in the second period, when Jeff Friesen clanged a shot from the slot off the left post and into the back of the net at the 1:58 mark. Igor Larionov was in the penalty box serving an obstruction penalty at the time.

Detroit rallied with a blast from Brett Hull while skating four-on-three. With the Wings’ Maxim Kuznetsov and the Devils’ Mike Danton in the box for roughing, along with New Jersey’s Colin White who was serving a slashing penalty, Hull fired a shot past Brodeur with 6:17 remaining in regulation time.

Joseph made twenty-five saves on twenty-seven shots in net for Detroit. Brodeur stopped twenty-two of the twenty-five shots he faced between the pipes for New Jersey.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday night as they travel to Carolina for a Stanley Cup Finals rematch with the Hurricanes.

First Overtime Loss of Season

The lesson to be learned from tonight’s game is that even if you go in and score four perfectly beautiful goals, the other team can score five dirty ugly goals and come up with an overtime win. So it went for the Red Wings, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of their home-and-home series.

The Red Wings scored the only goal of the first period, despite being outshot 11-7 by the Oilers. The puck bounced away from an Edmonton defenseman and straight to the stick of Luc Robitaille, who took off down the right side. Boyd Devereaux kept up on the left, and Robitaille fooled both the defenseman and goaltender Jussi Markkanen by looking as if to pass before putting the shot through Markkanen’s five-hole, achieving his 1300th career point.

The Oilers came back to take the lead within 27 seconds in the second period. First, Steve Staios caught the puck as it was rolling out towards the Detroit blue line. He snapped a hard wrist shot which seemed to change direction in midair before it dipped past Manny Legace for the goal. On the very next shift, Legace stopped a shot by Ryan Smyth, but the rebound came free to Anson Carter. Carter wrapped the puck around the net and banked it in off Legace’s skate before the goalie could close the gap between his foot and the goalpost.

Jason Woolley brought the score back to a tie with his first goal as a Red Wing. Brett Hull made a centering pass from behind the net. Woolley was left unguarded in the slot and let fly a hard shot which got past Markkanen.

Smyth retook the lead for the Oilers early in the third period. Robitaille had been sent to the box for high-sticking, Smyth was left to get to the side of the goal crease, where he waited with his stick blade on the ice. When Mike York sent the pass up from the right point, all Smyth had to do was tap it into the net.

Sergei Fedorov tied the game back up with his 13th of the season. He carried the puck up center and shot it from the blue line. Eric Brewer tried to get his stick in the way of the shot, but instead it deflected the puck just enough to fool Markkanen.

The Oilers took a 4-3 lead on a strange goal which was eventually credited to Janne Niinimaa. The puck seemed to escape from someone’s stick, pinball off of a few skates, and roll into the net past Legace’s outstretched catching glove.

Brendan Shanahan caught the Wings back up less than a minute later. He carried the puck up the right side, on a 2-on-1 rush with Tomas Holmstrom. Shanahan fired a hard, perfectly placed wrist shot which sailed past Markkanen to score the goal and swing the momentum back in Detroit’s favor.

The end of the third period was a huge amount of Detroit pressure in the Edmonton zone. Markkanen proved to be up to the challenge, however, and his team was rewarded a minute and a half into the overtime. Jason Smith was able to get to the front of the net and whack at the puck. Legace stopped the first three shots, but the fourth one was a backhander which chipped up high and in.

Final shots on net were 35-34 in Edmonton’s favor. The Red Wings play their next game at home on Wednesday night, when they host the New Jersey Devils.

Since this was Game # 21, and we are now about a quarter of the way through the season, it might be interesting to look and see how the League standings would look if the playoffs were to start today. In the East, #1 Boston (30 points) would play #8 New Jersey (23 points). #2 Tampa Bay (27 points) would play #7 Pittsburgh (24 points). #3 Philadelphia (26 points) would play the #6 New York Rangers (24 points). #4 Carolina (25 points) would play #5 Ottawa (24 points). In the West, #1 Dallas (33 points) would play #8 Anaheim (23 points). #2 Minnesota (30 points) would play #7 Los Angeles (24 points). #3 Detroit (26 points) would play…. get this…. #6 Colorado (25 points)! (What kind of first round is THAT????) And #4 Vancouver (28 points) would play #5 St. Louis (25 points). Hmm…. maybe it’s best that three-fourths of a season are still left to go.

Better Effort Earns A Tie

The Red Wings regrouped quickly after last night’s loss to the Canucks. They outplayed the Edmonton Oilers for much of tonight’s game, but excellent goaltending caused the game to end up as a 1-1 tie.

Dave Lewis thought to shake up the team slightly by putting in feisty Sean Avery in place of Jason Williams, and, of course, by changing the forward line combinations. It worked nicely. The Red Wings skated better, passed better, and created more scoring chances, causing goalie Tommy Salo to have to work hard and scramble to keep the puck out of the net. At the other end of the ice, Curtis Joseph seemed to have shaken off last night’s loss without a problem, making several dazzling saves to keep the Oilers off the board.

Another benefit for both Detroit and Edmonton was the relative lack of penalties. Detroit was able to rotate its full complement of players on and off the ice without having to overwork some and leave others sitting on the bench for long penalty-killing shifts. The Oilers’ strong, quick skaters used the flow of the game to their advantage, and the result was an entertaining game.

The Red Wings finally opened the scoring late in the second period. Sergei Fedorov banked the puck off the boards to clear it from the Detroit zone, springing Brett Hull and Igor Larionov loose on a 2-on-1 rush. Hull carried the puck up the left side and fired a wrist shot which bounced off the goal post and into the net behind Salo.

The Oilers countered with only four seconds remaining in the second period. Joseph stopped a low shot by Janne Niinimaa with the tip of his catching glove, but the puck slid free. Todd Marchant and Shawn Horcoff had both followed the play to the front of the net. It was hard to tell at first which of those two tapped the puck in for the goal, but replay showed that it was Marchant.

Both teams continued to play well and create scoring chances in the third period and the overtime, but the goaltenders were determined not to allow any more goals, thus ending the game in a 1-1 tie.

The final shots on net were 37-27 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings and Oilers will play the second game of their home-and-home series Monday night at the Joe.

Nicklas Lidstrom led the team in ice time as usual, putting in an impressive 32:37. Sergei Fedorov led the forwards, with 28:13. The Grind Line was rewarded with more ice time for their recent quality play. Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty each played more than 15 minutes, and Kris Draper, who gets extra time because of his penalty-killing role, played over 18 minutes…. Brendan Shanahan became the father of twins, a boy and a girl, this afternoon. The mother and babies are reported to be doing well.

Flat Play Brings A Loss

Very often after a big win, the victorious team will come out playing flat, uninspired hockey for their next game. The was the case for the Red Wings after their Tuesday night 5-0 rout of the Flames, and the Vancouver Canucks were the beneficiaries, winning 4-1.

The Canucks got their scoring going early in the game. Trevor Letowski took a shot on net from the right boards, and Curtis Joseph left a large rebound. Matt Cooke came in from the left, scooped up the rebound, and put it into the net before Joseph could get over.

The Red Wings spent unfortunately placed two-minute chunks of the rest of the period killing off penalties. Darren McCarty took two calls right in a row, and Jesse Wallin was then sent to the box for hooking with 5:24 remaining. With just four seconds remaining in that penalty, Markus Naslund increased the Canucks’ lead to two by slapping in a pass by Brendan Morrison from behind the net.

Breakdowns in defensive communication led to the two Vancouver goals in the second period. Jarkko Ruutu was allowed to make a pass which sprang Trent Klatt on a partial breakaway, and Klatt’s hard shot went in over Joseph’s shoulder. A few minutes later, a mix-up between Kris Draper and Dmitri Bykov at the Vancouver blue line allowed Todd Bertuzzi to steal the puck and get out on a full breakaway. This shot also went high past Joseph, and coach Dave Lewis decided it was time to rescue his goalie. Manny Legace came in to take Joseph’s place.

The Canucks forced Legace to make a few very good saves early on, but then they sat back a little. The Red Wings found their offensive momentum too late in the game. Brett Hull scored a power play goal by one-timing in a good pass from Luc Robitaille, and Detroit used the energy from that goal to sustain some pressure in the Vancouver zone, but goaltender Dan Cloutier was not about to let them stage a comeback at that late point in the game.

The final shots on net were 29 to 23 in favor of Vancouver. Joseph made 14 saves on 18 shots before being pulled. Legace stopped all 11 of the shots he faced.

The Red Wings will close out their western road trip Saturday night with the first game of a home-and-home against the Edmonton Oilers, who have an 8-8-3-1 record for the season and a 3-4-2-0 record when playing at home.

Markus Naslund’s goal moved him to sole possessor of first place in NHL goals for the season, with 13…. Manny Legace has played enough minutes at this point to qualify as a league leader in stats. Going into this game, he had first place in both save percentage (.983) and goals against average (1.79).

Grinding Out Some Goals

The Grind Line combined for a total of three goals, Jason Woolley impressed in his debut, and the Red Wings continued their climb out of the post-championship doldrums with a 5-0 victory over the uninspired Calgary Flames.

The Flames were awarded a power play to start the game, with Mathieu Dandenault send out for holding only 31 seconds in. The Calgary power play had some jump to it, but the Detroit penalty killers and Curtis Joseph were more than equal to the task.

Detroit was patient in getting its offensive play going. They made some excellent passing plays during their power play opportunities, but it was a drive-to-the net play which got them on the board late in the first. Rob Niedermayer was in the penalty box for high-sticking, and the Flames had managed to clear the puck down the ice. The Red Wings cycled back to get it. Brett Hull made a pass to Igor Larionov up the center, and Larionov charged towards the net. He faked to the left, fooling goaltender Jamie McLennan entirely, and brought the puck back around to stuff it in on the right.

Darren McCarty increased the Red Wings’ lead early in the second. Kirk Maltby took the puck from the right boards towards the net. He deked around a Calgary defender to send the short pass to McCarty, and McCarty rifled a shot past McLennan from close range.

Only 41 seconds later, Sergei Fedorov added a goal to move into first place in NHL scoring. Dmitri Bykov made a good play at the right point, moving in to keep the Flames from clearing the puck to center. The puck came free to Fedorov, and he wristed a shot past McLennan.

Calgary called a timeout then, and tried to get themselves back on track. Steve Begin decided to try to add some energy to his team by picking a fight with McCarty. It was a close fight, but Begin fell down first. The Flames came on strong in the last ten minutes of the period, taking advantage of a temporarily relaxed Red Wings defense, but Joseph managed to stop all the shots that got through to him.

The third period belonged once again to the Red Wings. Calgary seemed to have given up, for the most part, and the Grind Line was prepared to use that to their advantage. Maltby scored his first even strength goal of the year by slapping in a one-time shot on a McCarty pass from across the Flames’ zone.

Kris Draper didn’t want his linemates to have all the fun, so he added a goal of his own with 3:54 left in the game. Brett Hull brought the puck across the blue line and passed it up to Maltby. Maltby headed towards the net, but dropped the pass back to Draper, and Draper put it high into the net.

Joseph stopped all 29 of the shots he faced, for his second shutout of the season. The first shutout was also against the Flames. McLennan made 30 saves on 35 shots.

The Red Wings will continue their western trip with a Friday night game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle, who caused more than a few problems for Detroit when they were with Colorado, don’t seem to be nearly so troublesome with the Flames. Yelle was a game-low “”4 with only one shot on net, and Drury had no shots at all…. Jason Woolley paired with Dmitri Bykov for his first game. The pairing seemed to work nicely: they each had a rating of +3…. Brendan Shanahan did not travel with the team, opting instead to remain home with his pregnant wife because their twins are due to be born any day.

Raking Up The Leafs

Coach Dave Lewis disappointed the Toronto media by deciding that Curtis Joseph would NOT start against his old team. Manny Legace then followed suit and disappointed the Toronto fans and players by playing a spectacular game and coming within ten seconds of a shutout. The Red Wings got their four game Canadian road trip off to a good start, skating to a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

The first period did not go at all well for the Red Wings. The Leafs outshot them 11-5, but Manny Legace stopped every shot the Leafs could come up with. The Red Wings also failed to generate many offensive chances in the other direction. Most of the shots towards Ed Belfour were either blocked before they reached the net or Belfour saw them clearly and had no trouble keeping them out of the net.

The Red Wings turned the tables in the second period. Legace continued to play superbly, but he didn’t have nearly as much work to do. The Red Wings began blocking the shots before they could get to the net and covering the Maple Leafs perfectly so that none of them could get any high quality shots away. At the other end of the rink, Detroit brought much better pressure against Toronto. Brett Hull had a nearly perfect scoring chance when Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck out from behind the net, but the shot went just wide.

The Wings knew they were playing better, and they kept it up in the third. They finally got on the scoreboard 5:14 into the period, keeping up their trend of shorthanded scoring. Darren McCarty was in the penalty box for holding. Chris Chelios made a clearing pass to Kirk Maltby, who got away on a two-on-one rush with Kris Draper keeping up on the right side. Maltby used defenseman Tomas Kaberle as a screen, and the puck sailed into the net over Belfour’s right shoulder.

Unlike many teams do when they give up a shorthanded goal, the Maple Leafs did not let it throw off their power play. Legace was called upon to make a huge save on Mats Sundin just after Maltby’s goal was scored to keep the lead for the Wings.

Henrik Zetterberg added an insurance goal about two minutes later. Hull passed the puck from the right corner to Datsyuk near the side of the net. Datsyuk dropped the pass back between his legs to Zetterberg out front, and Zetterberg put the puck in just below the crossbar.

The Red Wings continued to pressure the Maple Leafs, and Legace continued to make the necessary saves, but his shutout bid was spoiled by a fluke goal with only ten seconds remaining. The Leafs had pulled Belfour from the net to send in the extra skater. Hull attempted to clear the puck from the zone, but instead, it hit Brendan Shanahan and bounced right back to the stick of Tie Domi in front of the net. Domi was able to bang the puck in before Legace could slide across to stop him.

The final count of shots on goal was 30-26 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings will next head west to face the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

Jason Williams was in the lineup in place of Boyd Devereaux, who was a healthy scratch…. New defense acquisition Jason Woolley will most likely make his debut as a Red Wing against the Flames on Tuesday…. The Leafs fans booed Chris Chelios every time he had the puck because of some comments he made to the Detroit media last week: “I don’t like Toronto. I don’t like the way they treat people in the media. You watch what they do to the Maple Leafs there. It gets too personal.” Of course, booing Chelios is not always the best of ideas, as we saw in the playoffs last season. Just ask the Vancouver Canucks.

Wings Acquire Woolley from Sabres

The Detroit Red Wings traded for Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jason Woolley on Saturday morning, picking up the blueliner in return for future considerations.

Woolley had been placed on waivers by the Sabres as the first scapegoat of Buffalo’s 3-10-3 start and ineffective power play. He comes to a Detroit team looking to build defensive depth after Jiri Fischer suffered a torn ACL that will keep him out for four to six months.

The Red Wings asked Woolley to accept a $125,000 pay decrease to come to Detroit as they look to control the league’s second-highest payroll.

Wooley had three assists in fourteen games with the Sabres this season. He will be in Toronto for the Red Wings’ matchup with the Maple Leafs tonight but will not play.

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