The milestones just keep coming for Brett Hull. The veteran right winger opened Detroit’s scoring with his 717th career goal tonight, tying him with Phil Esposito for fourth place on the NHL’s career goal list and propelling the Red Wings to a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings started the first period skating confidently. The Blue Jackets settled into their usual defensive style of play, but Detroit still managed to fire ten shots against goaltender Marc Denis. Columbus, on the other hand, managed only five shots against Manny Legace, making his first start of the season.
Hull’s opening goal came 5:32 into the second period. Pavel Datsyuk carried the puck towards the right side of the net, luring Denis over, then made a quick pass across the crease to Hull. Hull easily flipped the puck into the open net.
The same offensive line added another goal just 23 seconds later. Brendan Shanahan made a pass from the left boards to Datsyuk in the high slot. Datsyuk was all alone in front of Denis, and he fooled the goaltender by flipping from his backhand to his forehand before putting the puck in just under the crossbar.
The Blue Jackets cut Detroit’s lead to one goal near the end of the period, during four-on-four play resulting from coincidental penalties to Jiri Hudler and Andrej Nedorost. Todd Marchant and Rick Nash were up on a two on one rush. Marchant was pulled down by Jiri Fischer, but he still managed to get the puck across to Nash, who put the puck just past Legace’s outstretched glove.
Columbus gained some momentum from their goal, and Legace was called upon to make some important saves through the end of the second and the beginning of the third periods.
Detroit regained control of the game with a power play goal 6:53 into the third, with Darryl Sydor in the box for holding. Steve Yzerman passed to Shanahan at the right point. Shanahan made a hard shot which shattered the blade of his stick, but that didn’t matter. The puck brushed Tomas Holmstrom on its way through and fooled Denis to increase the lead to 3-1.
The Red Wings capped off the game with a shorthanded goal a few minutes later. Shanahan was in the box for holding, but the Columbus power play unit didn’t have an easy time of it. Henrik Zetterberg intercepted Jaroslav Spacek’s pass near Detroit’s blue line. He and Ray Whitney, a former Blue Jacket, took off down the ice on a two-on-one rush. The defending Columbus player was unable to take the pass away, Zetterberg flipped the puck to Whitney, and Whitney put the puck past Denis.
Legace made 18 of 19 saves to start his season with a save percentage of .947. Denis stopped 24 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .857. The Red Wings’ next opponent will be the Dallas Stars, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.