It isn’t for nothing that the New York Rangers have a reputation as a team of high-paid thugs. They gave the Red Wings seven power plays during the game (the first time in awhile that the Wings have had more power plays than their opponent), and there was still more hitting going on that was not called by the game officials. They also happen to be a team of thugs with some highly skilled individuals, but the Red Wings held on to gain a 3-2 win.
Detroit had a 2-0 lead before the first period was even half gone. Igor Larionov broke the team’s three game power play scoring drought while Tom Poti was in the box for high-sticking. Brett Hull got the puck after it slipped away from the faceoff, and sent it back to Nick Lidstrom at the blue line. Lidstrom then passed it through a screen of players up to Larionov near the corner of the net, and Larionov scooped it in over Mike Dunham.
Lidstrom gave the team a two goal lead just over two minutes later. Sergei Fedorov was carrying the puck and looked as if he would turn and shoot on net, but instead he left it for Lidstrom, who let loose a hard slapshot. Dunham was partly screened by his own defenseman Poti, and couldn’t see the puck until it rattled past him.
The Rangers came back within one early in the second period. Eric Lindros shoved Kirk Maltby into Manny Legace in the goal crease, and before Legace could get back in place, Vladimir Malakhov had banked the puck into the net.
The Red Wings seemed to be a little thrown off by giving up their goal, and their defense slipped somewhat through the second period. The Rangers generated more scoring chances, but Legace was ready for each one, and New York seemed unable to get to the rebounds to get the second shots away.
The Red Wings came back in the third period. Brendan Shanahan increased the team’s lead back to two with another power play goal. He sent the puck behind the net to Larionov. Larionov centered it back out front, and Shanahan got it back and put the shot high over Dunham’s shoulder.
One of the multiple scrums of the night seemed about to lead to an all-out fight between Sean Avery and Billy Tibbets, but Tibbets pulled a dirty trick and tried to choke Avery with the strap of his own helmet. The two were separated, and both were given two minute roughing minors.
The Rangers came back within one with 6:31 left to play. Jason Woolley had been sent to the penalty box for a roughing call. The Red Wings cleared the puck out of the zone, but Malakhov carried it back in and let fly a well-placed shot from the left point. The puck just barely brushed the shoulder of Legace’s jersey as it sailed into the net.
When Darren McCarty and Matthew Barnaby were given coincidental roughing penalties with less than two minutes to play, the Rangers pulled Dunham so they could have a five-on-four advantage. The Red Wings managed to control the play and cycle the puck so that the Rangers never got a clear shot on Legace, and the game ended 3-2.
Legace made 29 saves on 31 shots in his second straight start to improve his season record to 5-1-2-1. Dunham made 29 saves on 32 shots.
The Red Wings next game will be Monday night in Columbus, the first game of a home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets.
This was the Red Wings’ seventh straight win against the Rangers…. Patrick Boileau played in his second game of the season in place of Jesse Wallin, who is still out with an injured elbow. Boileau played a quiet, solid game and came out even in the plus-minus category.