Cujo Faces Old Team, Wins Decisively

Curtis Joseph may have been a little anxious about playing his first game against his old team. “There’s anticipation when you play your former team,” he said. “Some emotion. You just have to keep that in check.”

Joseph needn’t have worried. As he so often does, he played his best in such a big game, and his teammates’ offense continued as unstoppable as it has been of late, giving the Red Wings a highly satisfying 7-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs started the game with more energy than the Red Wings had, but the Red Wings found their game and opened the scoring late in the first period. Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck to Brett Hull in the right corner. Hull threaded a pass through three Toronto players to Henrik Zetterberg in front of the net. Zetterberg was left all alone in front of Ed Belfour, so he paused, waited for Belfour to drop to take away a low shot, then lifted the puck over the flopping goaltender at 4:43.

Just eight seconds later, Darren McCarty increased the lead to two. The Red Wings won the faceoff at center. McCarty followed Kris Draper up on a two-on-one break. Draper passed across to McCarty, who wristed the shot into the top corner of the net.

The Maple Leafs got on the board at 3:06. Robert Reichel’s shot hit the left post, then hit the inside of the right post, then bounced into the net past Joseph.

Hull regained the two-goal lead with just 1.8 seconds left in the period. The Leafs iced the puck with 5 seconds left, leading to a faceoff deep in their zone. Datsyuk won the draw and kicked the puck back to Hull, whose shot curved up over Belfour and dropped into the net.

The Red Wings had penalty trouble early in the second period. Chris Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Kirk Maltby had to kill off two back to back five-on-three penalties. First Mathieu Dandenault was called for tripping, then Hull had to go in to serve a delay of game penalty assessed to Joseph. Gary Roberts tipped in a shot by Robert Svehla just as the first penalty was about to expire. Then, thirty seconds after Joseph’s penalty ended, Steve Yzerman was called for holding. Forty-seven seconds later, Draper was sent out for hooking. This time, Chelios, Lidstrom, Maltby, and Joseph held strong and kept the Maple Leafs off the board.

Yzerman contributed his first point of the season by setting up Zetterberg’s second goal. Bryan McCabe was attempting to carry the puck out of his own zone, but Yzerman stripped him of it cleanly and passed it to Zetterberg, who was skating towards the net. Zetterberg slammed it past Belfour.

Hull added his second goal of the game just as the period was drawing to an end. The Wings were on the power play, since Roberts was sent out for roughing up Draper. Igor Larionov passed from the right point to Hull in the high slot, and Hull one-timed the shot right through Belfour.

Draper and Dmitri Bykov rounded out the scoring with a goal each in the third period. Maltby, McCarty, and Draper carried the puck up ice on a three-on-two rush. Maltby sent it from the middle to McCarty on the right side, and McCarty put the puck right across the goal crease to Draper, who tapped it in past Belfour.

Bykov’s goal came on another power play. Yzerman passed the puck from the left point to Tomas Holmstrom behind the net. Holmstrom put it back out front, and Bykov was in just the right spot down low to send it into the net.

Detroit outshot Toronto by a count of 31-29. They won 35 of the 63 faceoffs, and went 2-for-6 on the power play. The Red Wings’ next game will be Sunday evening at home against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Hull’s assist on Zetterberg’s first goal made him the 23rd player in NHL history to score 1300 career points…. McCarty was in his first game back after missing nine games with an arm infection…. Fedorov and Larionov extended their point streaks to nine and eight games respectively…. The Red Wings hold a 273-271-93 lifetime record against the Maple Leafs.

Captain’s Debut a 5-4 Win

He looked a little awkward at times, and his timing was definitely off. But yes, it really was Steve Yzerman out there on the ice at Joe Louis Arena, winning nine of the fifteen faceoffs he took (important) and (more important) inspiring his team on to a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Red Wings were perhaps buoyed by the fans’excitement at the Captain’s return, because they definitely dominated the first period of play. Los Angeles goaltender Jamie Storr was sharp in the net, but Brett Hull finally put one past him as the period was winding down. Nicklas Lidstrom shot the puck deep into the right corner, and it bounced off the boards and out just past the goal line. Hull took his shot from a very tight angle. It didn’t look like a particularly good scoring chance, but the puck slid between Storr’s legs and in for the goal.

Igor Larionov increased the Red Wings’ lead early in the second. Brendan Shanahan passed from behind the net to Sergei Fedorov, and Fedorov sent the puck across the goal crease to Larionov. Larionov put the puck in high from right in front of the net.

The Kings got to go on the power play shortly after that, when Maxim Kuznetsov was sent to the box for holding the stick, and Mathieu Schneider was able to put his team on the board. He shot the puck from the blue line after taking a pass from Zigmund Palffy. Manny Legace was screened by both Lidstrom and Bryan Smolinski, and wasn’t able to see the puck on its way through.

Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom put the Wings back out front before the period was over. Maltby’s goal resulted from a tangle of players in front of the Los Angeles net. Storr didn’t cover up the puck, and it squirted free to Maltby, who put it over all the bodies for the goal. Holmstrom’s power play goal came less than two minutes later. Hull’s shot bounced off Storr’s chest. Holmstrom came around from the back of the net hoping to pick up the rebound, but as he skated, the puck bounced off his skate blade and into the net. The goal was reviewed by the officials, who determined that Holmstrom had not kicked the puck in.

The Kings didn’t give up, and the Red Wings’ defense started to break down a little. Ian Laperriere was allowed to get right up in front of the net with no one to cover him. When Aaron Miller sent the pass through, Legace was able to stop the first shot by Laperriere, but the second one went high and out of Legace’s reach.

The late period goal energized the Kings, and they came on strong in the third period. Legace made some very strong saves, but the onslaught finally broke through with just 6:52 left to play. Laperriere and Eric Belanger got through on a 2-on-1 break. Kuznetsov dropped down to take away the passing lane, but Belanger’s shot deflected off the big defenseman and up into the net.

Fedorov put the Red Wings ahead for good just as a slashing penalty to Yzerman had expired. Fedorov got the puck through center and up to Shanahan, who left the drop pass just inside the Los Angeles blue line. Fedorov picked up the puck, tipped it past a Kings’ defenseman, regained it, and backhanded it past Storr.

Derek Armstrong added one more goal for the Kings with 2:06 left in the game. They pulled their goalie to send in an extra skater in the last minute, but the Red Wings tightened up and came out with the win.

The final count of shots on net was 31-30 in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings play next on Thursday evening, when their Original Six rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs pay a visit to the Joe.

Holmstrom’s goal was his 17th of the season, setting a new personal best record…. League Standings at the three-quarter mark of the season: In the East, the #1 Senators would play the #8 Lightning, the #2 Devils would play the #7 Bruins, the #3 Capitals would play the #6 Islanders, and the #4 Maple Leafs would plat the #5 Flyers. In the West, the #1 Stars would play the #8 Oilers, the #2 Canucks would play the #7 Wild, the #3 Red Wings would play the #6 Mighty Ducks, and the #4 Blues would play the #5 Avalanche.

Goalstorm in a Snowstorm

While the snow fell like mad in Detroit, and the rain fell in Washington, DC, the puck kept falling into the net. Five different Red Wings contributed a goal each to give the team a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals were decidedly overmatched against this Red Wings team which seems to be improving more and more each game. In spite of having six power play chances, Washington only managed to get eighteen shots on net””six in each period””past the suddenly stingy Detroit defense. “Our defensemen played really well down low, especially on the penalty-killing,” Luc Robitaille commented. “I think it surprised them.”

Mathieu Dandenault opened the scoring midway through the first period after sustained pressure in the Washington zone. Nicklas Lidstrom caught a rebound and sent it to Igor Larionov behind the net. Larionov passed it out front to Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov couldn’t shoot because what looked like all five of the Capitals’ skaters lined up to block him, but Dandenault was wide open near the left circle. The pass went across, and Dandenault’s one-timer blasted past goalie Olaf Kolzig.

The Red Wings increased their lead just 15 seconds later on a bad turnover by none other than superstar Jaromir Jagr. Apparently, Jagr did not study the scouting reports on Pavel Datsyuk. Jagr, the last man back trying to clear the puck, tried to outdeke the forechecking Datsyuk, but Datsyuk picked the puck off as easily as if Jagr hadn’t been there at all. He put the puck high under the crossbar for the goal.

The Capitals had a chance to gain back some momentum before the period was over. For the third game in a row, the Red Wings were forced to kill off a 5-on-3 penalty. Again, Lidstrom picked up the second penalty, and again, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Chris Chelios did an incredible job of protecting Curtis Joseph.

Rick Berry tried to take out some of his frustrations with a hard hit on Fedorov, but before too long, Brendan Shanahan was out to show Berry why that was a bad idea. The two had an honest, gloves-dropped, helmets-off, fists-flying fight before the linesmen finally broke them up.

Joseph played well on the shots he did face, playing like his old self, the confident goalie the Wings were glad to acquire from the Maple Leafs instead of the uncertain netminder he seemed to be through the month of January. “Once the puck did get through, Curtis was there””large and big,” Dave Lewis said in praise of his starting goaltender. “It was a frustrating game for them, I’m sure,” he added.

Tomas Holmstrom added a goal midway through the second. Draper’s hard work struggling with a Washington player along the boards forced the puck free to Maltby in the high slot. Maltby passed up to Holmstrom near the front of the net, and Holmstrom beat Kolzig high on the short side for his 16th goal of the season, tying his career-best record set in the 2000-01 season.

Sergei Gonchar spoiled Joseph’s shutout bid just past the halfway point of the third period. He came in through the high slot area and one-timed a pass by Robert Lang. Joseph was screened by Fedorov and didn’t really have a chance to see the puck coming at him.

Robitaille and Draper rounded out the scoring as the game drew to an end. First, Datsyuk made another interception just inside the Washington blue line, gracefully got around two big defensemen, and made a pass to Robitaille near the side of the net. Robitaille’s shot went right between Kolzig’s pads for his third goal in the past four games. Next, Dandenault intercepted an attempted Washington clearing pass, tipping it just enough to deflect it over to Lidstrom, who shot the puck on net. Kolzig made the save, but Draper got the rebound and put it in high.

Joseph made 17 saves on the 18 shots he faced, giving him a 94.4% save percentage. Kolzig’s 28 saves on 33 shots equaled a less-than-impressive 84.8% save percentage.

The Red Wings play next on Monday evening, when they face the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena.

The two points the Wings earned in the standings tonight, coupled with an overtime loss by the St. Louis Blues this afternoon, move the Red Wings back into first place in the Central Division. Detroit and St. Louis each have 76 points, but Detroit has one game in hand and 32 wins to the Blues’ 31.

Superb Power Plays Contribute to Win

The Red Wings came into tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers wanting to prove themselves. Not only did they want to drive away the bad memories of Tuesday’s game against the Canucks, but they had gone 0-0-1-2 against the Oilers this season. And as usually happens when the Red Wings have something to prove, they proved it, with five power play goals on seven attempts, five successful penalty kills on six attempts, and a 6-2 win over the Oilers.

The Wings had to kill off a penalty for too many men on the ice to start off the game, and they did so easily enough. The Oilers play a “crash the net” style of game, with most of their players down low to try to jam the puck in. Curtis Joseph made some impressive stops, and Detroit was able to clear the puck easily once it came free from the net area.

Just as the Edmonton power play was over, Ales Pisa was trying to bring the puck across his own blue line. He made a pass which hit the skates of Brendan Shanahan, who turned and brought the puck back into the Oilers’ zone. Shanahan made a snappy wrist shot which bounced off the leg pads of goalie Tommy Salo and into the net.

The Red Wings got their first power play of the night with 8:44 left in the first, and Shanahan added his second goal. Sergei Fedorov sent the puck from the right point to Pavel Datsyuk in the high slot, and Datsyuk threaded a pass between two Oilers to Shanahan at the left faceoff circle. Shanahan one-timed the shot into the mostly-empty net.

Detroit had to start off the second period killing off a hooking penalty assessed to Jason Woolley with four seconds left in the first. It was another easy penalty kill, and the Wings got to go back on the power play when Ethan Moreau was sent out a few minutes later. The Red Wings set up their play. Brett Hull sent a pass from the left circle to Woolley at the blue line. Woolley one-timed the shot, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped it past Salo.

Jani Rita got the Oilers on the board just over a minute later by flipping in the rebound from a shot by Steve Staios, but Holmstrom answered with another power play goal, this one off of a wrist shot from the left circle instead of his usual redirections of shots from the front of the net. The Edmonton bench pulled Salo from the game and sent in backup Jussi Markkanen.

Igor Larionov slipped a goal in off a pass by Hull. Big Georges Laraque tried to energize his team by picking a fight with Maxim Kuznetsov“”they’re about the same height, but Laraque outweighs Kuznetsov by quite a bit and has a lot more fighting experience. Kuznetsov held his ground and hung on, and the officials broke the fight up and sent the combatants to the penalty box for five minutes each.

The Red Wings had to do a lot of penalty killing in the third period, including 52 seconds of 5-on-3 when a hooking call to Larionov and a high-sticking double minor to Nicklas Lidstrom overlapped. Again, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Chris Chelios did an excellent job of protecting their goalie, and the Wings escaped the 5-on-3 and extended 5-on-4 unscathed.

Lidstrom took another penalty later in the period, and this time Todd Marchant did score a power play goal. The Red Wings were ready to put the game away, though, and when Scott Ferguson was given an instigating minor for starting a fight with Maltby, Detroit was ready. Shanahan got the puck just inside his own zone and carried it up the right wing side. He passed across to Larionov keeping up on the left, got the return pass, and wristed in the shot for his 15th career hat trick and 23rd goal of the season.

The final count of shots on net was 38-35 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings will play their next game Saturday evening, when they will face the Capitals in Washington.

Stacy Roest played his first game of the season, while Sean Avery was a healthy scratch…. Steve Yzerman is expected back within the week, even though he didn’t name a specific game for his return. “I should play relatively soon,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Refs Ruin Game

In yet another display of the way NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Director of Officiating Andy Van Hellemond seem determined to drive away all of hockey’s fans, the on-ice officials took it upon themselves to give the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 overtime win over the Red Wings.

The Canucks are thought by many analysts to be the NHL front office’s Chosen Team to win the Stanley Cup this year so that Commissioner Bettman can prove that small-market Canadian teams don’t actually need any help. Vancouver, with its rough, thuggish style of play guided by the sick mind of coach Marc Crawford, has probably been the main beneficiary of the League’s directive to make phantom obstruction calls instead of focusing more on blatant and dangerous charging, boarding, cross-checking, and high-sticking calls.

The Red Wings got off to a good start against the Canucks, in spite of the fact that one of the referees seemed to be having a Cold War flashback and decided to fight for Truth, Justice, and The American Way by calling non-existent penalties against young Russians Pavel Datsyuk and Dmitri Bykov, who were all of 12 and 13 years old respectively when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Vancouver golden boy Todd Bertuzzi actually spent time in the penalty box for mugging Chris Chelios, but the Red Wings didn’t get on the board until early in the second period. They had another power play, this one because Vancouver had had too many men on the ice. Sergei Fedorov, quite happy with his new higher level of ice time, took a pass from Brett Hull and one-timed the puck from the right point. The puck sailed past Dan Cloutier, who perhaps still has nightmares of the shot by Lidstrom which beat him from center ice in last year’s playoffs.

Henrik Zetterberg increased Detroit’s lead shortly thereafter. Datsyuk made a good pass through a few pairs of legs to Zetterberg in front of the net, and Zetterberg easily flipped the puck over Cloutier.

When the Red Wings scored two goals, including a power play goal, within the space of 1:03, it soon became obvious that Detroit would not be getting another power play. But that didn’t seem to matter. The Wings played a very strong period, continually pressuring the Canucks in their own zone and easily killing off a phantom penalty on Datsyuk.

But when Luc Robitaille scored early in the third and Cloutier ran away to hide behind the mattress-sized leg pads of his backup goalie Peter Skudra, the referees realized that the Canucks might actually LOSE, so they sprang into action. (Who knows what evil the League might wreak upon the officials of a loss by Vancouver?!?!?) First came a hooking call on Bykov. Again. The Wings were handling the penalty-killing role nicely, until Bertuzzi dragged his feet just enough to pitch him over Lidstrom’s skate and went flying like a clumsy ballerina. (Really, the man has a future as a melodramatic soap opera actor when his playing days are over…. or at least he would, if he weren’t one of the ugliest men in North America.)

Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Chris Chelios did a heroic job of killing off the 1:02 of 5-on-3 play. Chelios did an excellent job of helping Curtis Joseph defend the net and harrassing the Canuck attackers down low, while Maltby and Draper used their speed and agility to force the other attackers to make quick passes and play keep-away instead of setting up a scoring chance. Bykov came out of the box to help, and the Wings sent the puck down the ice.

Trent Klatt carried the puck back into the Detroit zone and crashed the net. Literally. Like a steamroller. The puck preceded Klatt into the net by an inch or two before the net came up off its moorings, but it should seem fairly obvious to most observers that Joseph cannot stop the puck when he is being leveled by a 225-pound man with full forward momentum. Apparently referee Don Van Massenhoven is no ordinary observer. In the strange and unusual physics of his little world, Joseph would have been perfectly capable of being run over and of making the save at the same time, so Van Massenhoven waved off any unimportant objections such as “goaltender interference” and allowed the goal.

The Canucks pulled Skudra and his mattresses out of the net to send in an extra skater with just over a minute left to play, and Van Massenhoven had another chance to shine. The Canucks were pressuring in the Detroit zone, and Lidstrom sent the puck around behind the net so the Wings could pick it up and clear it on the other side. Van Massenhoven was in the way. The puck hit his skate, his foot moved, and somehow the puck went right to the stick blade of Markus Naslund. What a coincidence! (I’ve seen goals disallowed for less of a kicking motion than Van Massenhoven used in his assist. Sure, you can kick the puck if you’re only setting up a goal, but that’s only if you’re actually ON THE TEAM!) Naslund, who isn’t leading the League in goals for nothing, sent the puck right into the empty corner of the net, in spite of the way everything suddenly seemed to go into slow motion and Cujo flung himself across the crease to try to somehow block the shot.

Goalies sometimes see in slow motion. If a goalie can somehow project his slow motion view of the puck to the fans in the audience and the TV viewers at home, then you know you are watching a very powerful goalie indeed. But a goalie’s power matters little when the referee gets the first assist on the game-tying goal””even Terry Sawchuk himself, who had over 100 career shutouts with shorter seasons and much smaller equipment than the NHL has now, would have been hard-pressed to make that save. (By the way, does ESPN know ANYTHING about sports history? Where do they get off calling Patrick Wah the best goalie ever? Have they never heard of Sawchuk? Esposito? Vezina? Crozier? But don’t get me started on that.)

So, the game went to overtime, and the Canucks proceeded to blatantly obstruct the Red Wings’ attempts to get the puck and set up plays. Hmm, not so quick with the whistles now? Can’t imagine why…. Marek Malik scored the game winner with 1:58 remaining, and Skudra proceeded to jump up and down as if he’d actually done something. Meanwhile, the Red Wings proceeded to go to the dressing room to regroup and try to wash away the nastiness of a game decided by referees before facing the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. Fortunately, the Oilers are NOT the Chosen Team this season, so there may even be a chance of a somewhat fair bit of officiating.

Wings Suffer OT Loss to Canucks

In spite of strong first and second periods, and an excellent job in net by Curtis Joseph, the Red Wings took a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

The first period was scoreless, and both teams’ best opportunities for goals came short-handed. Dan Cloutier stopped Sergei Fedorov with a glove save 4:40 into the period. Curtis Joseph later denied Trevor Linden as he came in off the right wing side and cut to the front of the net.

The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead in the span of 1:03 early in the second period.

Fedorov broke the scoreless tie with a power-play goal. His slap shot from the point deflected off a Canuck player’s stick for his 23rd goal of the season. Just over a minute later, Henrik Zetterberg stuffed a shot through Cloutier’s pads.

Igor Larionov set up Luc Robitaille early in the third. Robitaille spun around to take the pass in the high slot and one-timed the puck through to the net. Robitaille’s second goal in two games was enoigh to drive Cloutier to the bench in favor of Peter Skudra.

The goalie switch shook up the Canucks enough that Trevor Linden got Vancouver on the board at 4:59 of the third period with a wrist shot from the slot. Henrik Sedin made the centering pass from the corner to set up the goal.

The Red Wings valiantly killed off a 1:02 5-on-3 power play midway through the third. With both Dmitri Bykov and Nicklas Lidstrom in the box, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Chris Chelios did a phenomenal job protecting Joseph and the lead until Bykov could come out of the box to help the defense.

The Canucks did manage to score in the remaining time 5-on-4. Trent Klatt crashed the net- literally. He plowed into Joseph, pushing the puck in ahead of him and knocking the net off its moorings. The Wings tried to make the argument that Joseph had been interfered with, but referee Don Van Massenhoven made the call that the goal counted.

Vancouver pulled Skudra from the net for the extra skater in the last minute of play, and a horrible bounce let the Canucks tie the game. With only 25 seconds remaining, the puck, which should have gone harmlessly into the corner, bounced off the skate of Van Massenhoven and centered to the perfect position for Markus Naslund to put into the net as Joseph flung his body across in an attempt to keep it out.

Marek Malik scored the game winning goal with 1:58 left in overtime.

The final count of shots on net was 37-30 for the Canucks. The Red Wings’ next game will be Thursday evening against the Edmonton Oilers.

Steve Yzerman should be returning to the lineup very soon, according to reports in the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. He hopes to finalize his plans with coach Dave Lewis in the next few days. “I don’t care for it to be too big a deal,” Yzerman said Monday about his return. “I’ll just get in as quietly as I can, with as little fanfare as possible. I’m pretty optimistic it’s going to go well, but I’d like to find out soon. I’m a little bit anxious, I guess.”

Starting to Roll

“The tide has officially turned!” announced hockey analyst and former Red Wing Larry Murphy, as he watched tonight’s game. Maybe it was the return of Chris Chelios that did the trick. Maybe it was the successful 5-on-3 penalty kill. Or maybe the team suddenly remembered that their best defensive strategy is to spend as much time on offense as possible. Whatever the case, the momentum certainly seems to be swinging back in Detroit’s favor, as they picked up their third straight win, a 6-2 decision over the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers came out with a lot more energy than the Wings had at the beginning of the game, and they were rewarded with the first goal. Chris Chelios, back in the lineup after missing nine games with a leg injury, attempted to clear the puck from the zone. Tony Hrkac intercepted it at the blue line and centered a pass to Per Svartvadet, who one-timed a shot from the high slot. The puck went up and over Curtis Joseph.

The game’s momentum turned late in the first when Joseph and the Red Wings withstood eight shots during a 3:01 power play that included a 59-second stretch in which Atlanta had a two-man advantage. Pavel Datsyuk had been sent off for hooking first, then Kris Draper was sent out after him. “We wanted to get a good start, but to kill a five-on-three was big for us,” said Joseph. “That was huge for us.”

Detroit wasted no time in unleashing their offense once the second period got underway. Brett Hull put the Wings on the board at 1:16. Henrik Zetterberg sent the pass across at center ice, and Hull carried up the left wing side to shoot on Byron Dafoe just as he crossed the blue line. The puck slid in between the goalie’s legs.

Brendan Shanahan came next. Sergei Fedorov flew into the Thrasher’s zone and got the first shot away, and Kirk Maltby grabbed the rebound and sent in another shot. When Dafoe let that rebound slip away as well, Shanahan pounced on it and slapped it into the net to extend his point streak to four games.

Boyd Devereaux scored the eventual game winner less than two minutes later. Patrick Boileau knocked the puck out of a player tangle in front of Dafoe’s net. Devereaux picked it up and circled behind, then turned and stuffed the puck in between the goalpost and Dafoe’s right skate.

The Thrashers pulled Dafoe after that to send in backup goalie Pasi Nurminen, but they took too long to make the change and were assessed a two minute bench minor penalty. During the resulting Detroit power play, Hull redirected a shot by Nicklas Lidstrom into a wide open net to give his team a 4-1 lead.

Atlanta did narrow the lead to two goals late in the second. Patrick Stefan took a pass from Frantisek Kaberle at center ice, and his speed allowed him to push into the zone, splitting between Chelios and Zetterberg and putting the puck in past Joseph.

Nurminen injured his groin late in the second period, causing the Thrashers to send Dafoe back in to start the third. The Red Wings continued to pressure and keep the Thrashers away from the puck. Midway through the period, Pavel Datsyuk added to the lead. Zetterberg fought for the puck in the right corner, then threaded a pass past two defensemen to Datsyuk, who was wide open in front of the net. Datsyuk’s stick-handling seemed to confuse Dafoe, and the young Russian was able to put the puck in high on Dafoe’s far side.

Joseph was called on to make some big saves as the Thrashers tried to turn up the pressure, and he made them. Stefan looked as if he surely had his second goal of the night, facing a nearly empty net, but Joseph dove across from the other side of the crease to make the stop.

Luc Robitaille‘s power play goal nearly wrapped the game up for the Red Wings. He waited behind the net, received a pass from Igor Larionov, then brought the puck out front and stuffed it past Dafoe.

Shanahan and Sean Avery still had some business to take care of with the Thrashers. Dan Snyder had put a nasty hit on Devereaux earlier in the period, and Avery noted the jersey number and dropped the gloves to fight as soon as he got the chance. Avery and Snyder both took fighting major penalties. Later, Marc Savard bowled over Larionov. Shanahan took exception to this and jumped in to defend his smaller teammate. Shanahan was given a roughing minor, but Savard was given two minutes for roughing and two minutes for charging, letting the Red Wings end the game on a power play.

Detroit outshot Atlanta by a count of 34-28. They’ll need all their regained momentum for their next game: a Tuesday night matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at the Joe.

Cautious Optimism

The defense still looked weak in spots, and Curtis Joseph started out looking shaky and nervous (even though he calmed down and improved as the game wore on). But Sergei Fedorov was flashing his famous grin after he scored two goals, and the Red Wings won consecutive games for the first time since the end of December with a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

The Wings started out the game with good pressure, and the Sabres didn’t seem to be entirely sure how to react. Detroit wasn’t able to beat rookie goaltender Ryan Miller, a former Michigan State Spartan, until Jay McKee’s hooking penalty gave them a power play chance midway through the first period. The power play got off to a slow start, and it was trailing to an end by the time Brett Hull shot against Miller from the high slot. The rebound squirted out to the left faceoff circle. Jason Woolley had pinched in from the point, and he was able to one-time the shot into the mostly empty net to score the first goal against his former team.

Fedorov decided that the early part of the second period would be a fine time to end his seven game goal drought. The Sabres’ defensive coverage was weak against Kirk Maltby and Brendan Shanahan behind the net. Shanahan was able to make a good centering pass to Fedorov coming up through the high slot, and Fedorov’s shot deflected off the skate of Stu Barnes and up past Miller’s catching glove.

Fedorov increased Detroit’s lead to three goals just a few minutes later. He received another good pass from Shanahan through center ice, and flew across the Sabres’ blue line. He faked out a defenseman, then took the long shot. The puck hit Miller’s leg pads and bounced into the net.

Buffalo answered with a goal of their own less than a minute after that. A large group of players from both teams got into a tangle in front of Curtis Joseph, and Tim Connolly was able to draw the puck back away. Somehow, his shot found its way through the mass of legs and sticks, and Joseph had no chance to stop it with such a screen in front of him.

The Sabres came on hard after that, aided by their momentum, by two power plays, and by a less-than-optimum defensive effort by the Red Wings, but Joseph was equal to the task, and the Sabres went into the intermission frustrated in their attempts to score.

The Red Wings got their second power play of the night early in the third, and this one looked better from the start. Nicklas Lidstrom‘s shot rebounded off of Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net. The puck bounced off to the side, where Igor Larionov was waiting to tap it in past Miller.

Another breakdown in defensive communication let the Sabres come back within two goals at 5:47 of the third. Denis Hamel was left all alone right in front of Joseph, and the five Detroit skaters all seemed to be heading out of the zone. Adam Mair was able to thread a pass through to Hamel, and Hamel was able to get enough lift on the shot to put it in over Joseph.

The Sabres pulled their goalie with 1:30 left to play, but the Red Wings were able to keep the puck away from them well enough that they had no real chance to score with their extra skater.

Joseph made 31 saves on 33 shots over the course of the game, for a .939 save percentage. Miller stopped 20 of 24, making his save percentage .833. Detroit won 38 of the 67 faceoffs. The Red Wings’ next game will be on the road Saturday evening against the Atlanta Thrashers.

DetroitHockey.Net is not officially affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings organization or the National Hockey League

Sort By Date (Oldest to Newest)