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.