Wings Close Out ’03 with OT Win over Atlanta

In their last game of the 2003 calendar year, the Detroit Red Wings claimed a 6-5 overtime win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Henrik Zetterberg‘s second goal and third point of the game gave the Wings the victory.

Zetterberg scored after taking a cross-ice pass from Ray Whitney while streaking down the left side of the ice. He one-timed the puck over Thrashers’ goaltender Pasi Nurminen’s shoulder, off the post, and into the net 2:24 into the overtime frame.

The Thrashers forced overtime with a fluke goal with 7:02 remaining in the third period. Daniel Tjarnqvist threw the puck from the left point to the right side of the Detroit goal. The puck deflected off of the stick of Pavel Datsyuk and was redirected by Jiri Fischer‘s leg before bouncing past Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph‘s skate.

After a scoreless first period, Detroit opened the scoring just 32 seconds into the second. Mathieu Schneider put a rebound of his own shot past Nurminen to give the Wings a one goal lead.

Just 1:32 later, Tomas Holmstrom put the rebound of a Pavel Datsyuk shot past Nurminen to put the Red Wings up by two goals. The Thrashers cut Detroit’s lead back to on goal 1:34 later as former Red Wing Vyacheslav Kozlov fired a shot past the heavily screened Joseph.

Whitney put Detroit back up by two goals at the 8:31 mark of the second, one-timing a shot from the side of the net to score his third goal in six games since returning from injury.

The Thrashers scored three straight to take their only lead of the game. With 8:53 remaining in the second, Ronald Petrovicky beat Joseph, unintentionally kicking the puck by the Detroit netminder. Zdenek Blatny scored his first NHL goal 4:39 later, picking up the rebound from a shot by Ilya Kovalchuk on a two-on-one. Kovalchuk put the Thrashers up by a goal 1:41 into the third period, cutting around a falling Jason Woolley and rifling a shot past Joseph.

Zetterberg’s first goal of the night pulled Detroit back into a tie 4:04 later. Pavel Datsyuk dropped the puck to Zetterberg skating through the slot on the power play and Zetterberg one-timed it into the net.

Brendan Shanahan scored 8:31 into the third to give the Wings a 5-4 lead before Atlanta tied it.

Atlanta’s Kovalchuk scored three points to take over the NHL scoring lead, while Datsyuk’s two points lifted him into a tie for second.

Joseph stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced, while Nurminen made 38 saves on 44 shots.

The Red Wings will play their first game of the 2004 calendar year on Friday when they play in Carolina.

Rivalry Takes a Nap: Wings Lose 3-0 to Chicago

Maybe the Red Wings were overdue for a game like this “” the kind where nothing goes quite right. The frustrating kind where none of the passes are exactly where they should be, your power plays are cut short by penalties being called, none of the bounces land in spots where they might be useful, all of the shots hit the goalie or go just wide, and the skaters just can’t seem to get going. And as is typical of a bad-luck game, it just HAD to be against a team everyone hates to lose to, Detroit’s oldest rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. A 3-0 shutout, to be exact.

The Blackhawks were full of offensive fire in the first period, outshooting Detroit by a 13 to 5 margin. Manny Legace was strong in net, especially on a point blank glove save against Brett McLean with just under six minutes to go in the first.

Nathan Dempsey opened the scoring for Chicago with 4:24 left in the period. He took a pass from Kyle Calder and shot on net from a very tight angle. The puck deflected off the skate of Niklas Kronwall and slipped in between Legace and the short side goal post.

The first period flowed nicely, but the second was choppy and full of penalties. The penalty killers for both teams did such a good job that hardly any shots on net were registered in the full twenty minutes””five for Chicago and four for Detroit. Tuomo Ruutu finally increased Chicago’s lead with a power play goal with 1:36 left in the period.

Deron Quint put the game away for the Blackhawks with another power play goal late in the third. Steve Sullivan passed Quint the puck as he was coming up the slot, and Quint one-timed a high shot through a screen over Legace’s blocker. In the end, Chicago outshot Detroit by a count of 27 to 20. The Red Wings’ next game will be their traditional New Year’s Eve home game. The opponent for this year is the high-scoring Atlanta Thrashers.

Tomas Holmstrom returned to the lineup for this game, but Jason Woolley was out. He blocked a shot with his foot during Friday’s game against the Wild. He is expected back in the lineup on Wednesday…. Chris Chelios is also scheduled to return against the Thrashers.

Wings Tie Wild, Extend Home Unbeaten Streak

As usually happens, the Minnesota Wild played a tight defensive game without a whole lot of scoring chances. Once they take a lead, they rarely give it up to their opponents, thanks to their strong defensive system. The Red Wings, however, forced the Wild to give up the lead twice in the third period, forcing a 2-2 tie and extending their home unbeaten streak to nine games.

The Red Wings weren’t without their chances. Pavel Datsyuk had two good chances to score in the first period, as did Henrik Zetterberg, but goaltender Dwayne Roloson was solid and refused to let the puck by.

Curtis Joseph was just as solid for Detroit. He stopped Wes Walz on a shorthanded breakaway about eight minutes into the second period, and the fans showed their appreciation by chanting, “Cujo! Cujo! Cujo!”

Minnesota opened the scoring with just 15 seconds left in the second period. The play had gone end to end repeatedly, each team trying hard to score before the period was over. Pascal Dupuis knocked the puck away from Brendan Shanahan in the Wild’s zone, clearing it up to speedy Marian Gaborik. Nicklas Lidstrom just couldn’t catch up with Gaborik quickly enough to stop him. Gaborik’s shot hit Joseph’s leg pads, but managed to find the way between them and across the goal line.

Minnesota’s lead didn’t last very long into the third period. Roloson’s stick had been knocked away from him, but with the Red Wings pressuring offensively, no one could take the time to get the stick back to the netminder. Niklas Kronwall held in a clearing attempt by Sergei Zholtok, then passed the puck to Zetterberg. Zetterberg one-timed a centering pass, which hit Zholtok’s stick in the high slot and deflected right pass Roloson.

The Wild regained the lead when Walz got to the side of the net by himself just in time to redirect a shot by Willie Mitchell, but Kris Draper tied the game back up less than a minute later. Draper was forechecking alone in the Minnesota zone. Mitchell’s clearing attempt hit Draper’s skate. Draper knocked Mitchell away, took the puck onto his stick blade, spun around, and fired towards the net. The puck sailed into the small space between Roloson’s blocker and right leg pad.

The Red Wings would have had offensive control of the overtime period, if they hadn’t been called for having too many men on the ice with 1:42 left to go. Lidstrom, Draper, and Kirk Maltby killed off most of the four-on-three penalty. Shanahan and Steve Yzerman replaced Draper and Maltby to finish off the game by keeping the puck tied up in the corner of Minnesota’s end of the ice.

The Wings outshot the Wild by a count of 37 to 24. Nineteen of Detroit’s shots came in the third period. The Red Wings’ next game will be Sunday night, when they face the Blackhawks in Chicago.

Draper is one goal away from tying his personal best season total of 15 goals…. Injury Update: Derian Hatcher skated for the first time Friday morning. He is still on schedule to return in the third week of March. Darren McCarty and Steve Thomas are still quite a way off from being able to return to the ice, but Tomas Holmstrom should return on Sunday against Chicago and Chris Chelios should return sometime next week. Dominik Hasek is cleared to start skating again on Saturday.

Tight Game, Tight Win: Wings Down Blues, 2-1

The St. Louis Blues had been unbeaten in the month of December, but they won’t be able to carry that streak into the new year. The Red Wings snapped the Blues’ streak and tightened their own grasp on the lead in the Central Division with a 2-1 win at Joe Louis Arena.

The Blues came out with plenty of pressure to start the game. The Red Wings, meanwhile, seemed inclined to wait for good scoring chances before joining the rush rather than open up the play and leave Curtis Joseph undefended. St. Louis outshot Detroit 10 to 4 in the first, but Joseph and Chris Osgood were both solid.

The Red Wings ran into a little penalty trouble in the second period, thanks to St. Louis disturber Mike Danton. Apparently he did something to get Mathieu Schneider‘s temper flared, because Schneider knocked him down and was sent to the penalty box for interference. Joseph made a save against Doug Weight, but Eric Nickulas got the rebound and banked the puck off the end boards. Joseph was still down low from the first save, and Dallas Drake was able to wrist the puck in high under the crossbar.

The Blues thought they’d be able to increase their lead when Jamie Rivers was sent out for cross-checking (Rivers also knocked down Danton), but Pavel Datsyuk had other ideas. Scott Mellanby was unable to keep the puck in the Red Wings’ zone, and it squirted free to Datsyuk flying up center ice on a shorthanded breakaway. Christian Backman kept up enough to hook Datsyuk up pretty well, but Datsyuk still got a backhand shot away right in front of the goal crease. The puck hit Osgood’s leg pads, then bounced up, over his head, came down off his back, and fell into the net.

The game was even tighter after that””the Wings and Blues didn’t fall back into playing a defensive game, but the offensive chances were so even and the goaltending was so solid that the tied score wasn’t broken until only 5:15 was left in the game. Datsyuk worked hard along the boards in the St. Louis zone to dig the puck free from two defensemen. Brett Hull got the pass in the left corner and circled behind the net before making a quick pass across the crease to Ray Whitney. Whitney had a mostly open net, and he flipped the puck in to take the lead.

St. Louis pulled Osgood for an extra skater in the last minute of play. Joseph and his defenders were kept busy holding off a desperate Blues attack, but hold it off they did, winding up with 23 shots to the Blues’ 25. The Red Wings come away with two valuable points against the team they will most likely need points against when playoff time comes around. The Central Division race looks like it will be a close one all the way into April, which makes any win against St. Louis that much more important.

The Red Wings will have a few days off for the NHL’s Christmas break before resuming the season on Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

The Blues were without regulars Keith Tkachuk and Petr Cajanek…. Hull has scored at least a point in every game he has ever played against Osgood…. With tonight’s win, the Wings lead the Blues 48 to 44 in the Conference standings. The Blues have played six games fewer than the Wings, but it does work out that all of those six are road games.

Wings Lose 1-0 Snoozer to Preds

Ah, for the old days of hockey.

You know, the old days, such as the 2001-02 season, when the game officials at least attempted to be consistent in their calls of obstruction penalties.

This, unfortunately, is the 2003-04 season, and the officials appear to be blind to the obstruction blocking up the neutral zone, leaving skilled teams at a disadvantage against teams with less talent. Since no help seems to be forthcoming from the NHL’s director of officiating, maybe the Red Wings need to try bringing a large supply of Drano to unclog center ice next time they visit Nashville. The Predators clutched, grabbed, and obstructed their way to a 1-0 win over the Red Wings.

If the NHL is wondering why goal scoring is down these days, if they’re wondering why hockey is losing viewers, if they’re wondering why the league is in such financial trouble, maybe they should try looking at their referees’ inconsistent enforcement of obstruction.

Dan Hamhuis was the goal scorer for the Predators, but his goal didn’t come until only 12:27 was left in the game. Goalie Tomas Vokoun made a very good save against Jason Woolley at the other end of the ice, clearing the way for Vladimir Orzagh to send Hamhuis flying up the ice with the puck. He unleashed a hard shot just as he crossed the blue line. Curtis Joseph appeared to be expecting a rising shot, but the puck slid along the ice and into the net.

The game up to that point had been a slow, choppy affair, with no sustained offensive pressure at either end of the ice. The Predators were unwilling to send more than one skater in to forecheck, and the Red Wings were unable to bring enough players into Nashville’s territory to set up any kind of scoring play.

The game after that point picked up slightly, as the Red Wings became more desperate to get on the scoreboard. They pulled Joseph for an extra attacker with just over a minute remaining, but the Predators were able to clear the puck and hold it up behind Detroit’s empty net until the final buzzer sounded.

Vokoun faced 21 shots durinng the course of the game. All of them were, of necessity, unscreened and easy to see. Joseph made 16 saves on 17 shots.

The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night when they host the St. Louis Blues.

Wins Keep Coming As Injured Players Start To Return

Henrik Zetterberg set a pretty high standard for the Red Wings’ players returning from injury with three points in his first game back, but Steve Yzerman, Ray Whitney, and Manny Legace were up for the challenge. Whitney had a goal, Yzerman had an assist, and Legace made 28 saves on 30 shots to give the Red Wings a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks came out roaring to start the game, while the Red Wings looked rather sluggish through the first twenty minutes of play””-everyone except Legace, that is. Chicago outshot Detroit by 17 to 3 in the first period, but Legace made some outstanding saves. Legace, returning a little earlier from his knee injury than he might have due to Curtis Joseph‘s bout of influenza, didn’t mind the extra work. “It was great,” he said. “It got me into the game early.”

The one goal Chicago did get through in the first period came on the power play, with Darryl Bootland in the penalty box for hooking. Brett McLean dragged the puck out of the right corner towards the front of the net. He tripped over Mathieu Dandenaut as he crossed the goal crease, but still got the shot away. Legace, a little tangled up in Dandenault’s skates, was not able to slide to his right goalpost in time to make the save.

Whitney tied the game up before the end of the period with Detroit’s second shot of the game. Jiri Fischer sent a hard pass from the blue line towards the net. The puck deflected just slightly off the leg of a Chicago player, but still made it to Whitney all alone near the right side of the net. He easily flipped it over goalie Steve Passmore.

The Blackhawks, with all the effort they had put in, were not happy to go into the locker room with only one goal to show for it. “To come out of that period and not be a couple of goals ahead was tough,” said Nathan Dempsey. “We knew they were going to pick it up in the second period.”

Dempsey was right””-the Red Wings looked like a much livelier team in the second period, and they began to apply a great deal of offensive pressure to Chicago. They were rewarded with a go-ahead goal late in the period. Yzerman kicked the puck away from a defending Blackhawk, then passed it behind the net to Zetterberg. Zetterberg one-timed a centering pass, and Brendan Shanahan was moving up through the slot, winding up in just the right spot to bang the puck into the net.

Nicklas Lidstrom ended his 14-game goal drought with a shorthanded goal late in the third. The Red Wings escaped their zone on a three-on-three rush. Zetterberg carried the puck deep into Chicago territory, then passed it back to Lidstrom at the blue line. Lidstrom used a Blackhawk defender as a screen and rifled away a shot which went right through Passmore.

The Blackhawks, to their credit, did not give up, even though they were down by two goals with 6:06 left to play, and even though their comeback chances dwindled further when Ville Nieminen took a roughing penalty with 2:29 left. They pulled Passmore to send in an extra skater. Burke Henry gave the Blackhawks another goal with just 10.7 seconds left to play, but the Red Wings won the faceoff at center ice and didn’t give Chicago a chance to tie the game.
Chicago wound up outshooting Detroit by a count of 30 to 25. The Red Wings continue their string of games against Central Division rivals with a short road trip to face the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, then back home to host the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

The Blackhawks dropped to 1-12-3-3 in their last 19 games with starting goalie Jocelyn Thibault out of the lineup…. This was Detroit’s 8th straight home win…. Kris Draper took a high stick to the face early in the third period and had to leave the game to get stitches, but he returned before the game was over.

Kids, Goat Reunite With Great Success

It had been six weeks and two days since Henrik Zetterberg was sidelined with a broken leg, but he slipped right back into the lineup as if he’d never been gone. Zetterberg had a goal and two assists, and Curtis Joseph had another strong showing to lift the Red Wings over the San Jose Sharks, 3-2 in overtime.

The Sharks are a strong defensive team, and the Red Wings had some trouble breaking through their trap to create quality scoring chances against goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Zetterberg opened the scoring, but he wasn’t able to do so until the first period was almost gone. Niklas Kronwall took a hard shot from the blue line. The puck deflected, but Brendan Shanahan, who was screening the goalie, was able to kick the puck onto his stick blade and backhand a pass to Zetterberg. Nabokov was focused on Shanahan, giving Zetterberg a wide open net to score into.

The Red Wings ran into penalty trouble in the second period. Jiri Fischer was sent out for holding the stick, followed by Mathieu Schneider for high sticking. Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby killed off fifty seconds of five-on-three power play. Joseph was outstanding again, holding off a mad scramble of Sharks in front of his net until Fischer could leave the box to help relieve the pressure.

With four men on the ice, Detroit took advantage of a break to try to create a scoring chance the other way, but Fischer crashed right into Nabokov, and was sent right back to the box for goaltender interference, giving the Sharks another 35 seconds of two man advantage. This time, Marco Sturm was in close to the goal crease and managed to force the rebound of a Mike Ricci shot into the net.
San Jose moved into the lead early in the third. Wayne Primeau shook off two defenders to move behind the net and center a pass to Scott Thornton. Thornton’s first shot was kicked away by Joseph, but Joseph wasn’t able to get to the rebound shot in time.
The Sharks took their one-goal lead and shut the game down. They forechecked only halfheartedly, preferring to keep four of their skaters lined up to pick off the puck and ice it before Detroit could set up a potential scoring play. The Wings’ bench pulled Joseph out for a sixth skater with just over a minute to go. Thirty seconds later, Detroit got their best break of the game. Nils Ekman was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking.

The Red Wings kept Joseph on the bench, giving them six skaters against four. With just 19 seconds before the buzzer, the Two Kids and the Old Goat tied up the game. Zetterberg passed the puck from behind the net to Brett Hull near the left circle. Hull threaded a pass across to Pavel Datsyuk in the slot, and Datsyuk wristed the shot over Nabokov.

The Sharks weren’t able to play the trap successfully in overtime, with only four skaters allowed per side, so the Red Wings were able to dominate the play. Zetterberg set up the game winning goal by bringing the puck deep into the San Jose zone, dragging it around a few defenders, and making a perfect pass across to Shanahan at the left circle. Shanahan took a hard shot on net which deflected off Nabokov and into the net.

Shots on net were even at 28 apiece. The Red Wings will next see action on Friday night, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Steve Yzerman said he might be ready to play later this week, either Friday against Chicago or Saturday at Nashville…. Datsyuk’s 19th goal ties him with Columbus’s Rick Nash for the NHL’s goal scoring lead and with Washington’s Robert Lang for the lead in points.

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