Wings Can’t Hold Off Surging Leafs

It was an entertaining game, for the most part, as one should expect when Original Six rivals play. It flowed nicely, wasn’t broken up by a lot of penalty calls, and even contained a milestone goal by Brett Hull, but the Red Wings surely won’t be happy with the outcome. The Toronto Maple Leafs won by a score of 5-2. Even less will the Wings and their fans like this bit of information: Steve Yzerman left the game hurt late in the second period and did not return for the third.

The game got off to a quick start, with both teams skating hard and trying to generate offense. Manny Legace made some dramatic saves to keep the game scoreless through most of the first, but his Leafs counterpart, Ed Belfour, wasn’t so lucky in the opening frame.

Just 20 seconds before the end of the period, Hull made his move. He carried the puck into the Toronto zone himself, then dropped it back for Mathieu Schneider. Schneider sent the puck back over to Hull, who cut to the front of the net, dragging the puck and luring Belfour over to the side before backhanding a high shot over the goalie. It was Hull’s 731st career goal, tying him with Marcel Dionne for third place on the all-time scorers list.

A slight defensive lapse let the Leafs tie up the game early in the second. Brian Marchment was able to carry the puck through the Red Wings’ zone. Jiri Fischer wasn’t able to get to him in time, and Marchment’s shot deflected just off Legace’s stick and into the net.

A very quick pair of goals moved Toronto into the lead late in the second. First Tie Domi redirected Robert Reichel’s shot from the right side boards. Then just 23 seconds later, Gary Roberts brought the puck into Detroit’s zone, then took a hard shot which beat Legace just underneath the catching glove.

Detroit made a nearly identical play just over a minute later to get back within one goal. Yzerman made a pass to spring Brendan Shanahan, whose hard shot went right through Belfour.

The Red Wings came on strong for the third, trying to get that tying goal, but Belfour was solid, and another quick pair of Toronto goals late in the period put the game out of reach. Roberts made a sharp clearing pass to send Mats Sundin in all alone ahead of Nicklas Lidstrom. Sundin’s speed brought him right to the front of the goal crease, where he backhanded a high shot into the net.

Rookie Matthew Stajan finished the game up for the Leafs by banging the puck across the goal line after Joe Nieuwendyk centered it from behind the net.

Detroit outshot Toronto by a count of 31 to 24. The Red Wings will return home for their next game, Monday evening against the Los Angeles Kings.


Yzerman’s injury was called a groin strain by team officials, but details were not readily available…. Dominik Hasek played backup this game. Curtis Joseph cleared waivers Friday and has been assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. It’s got to feel awful to Cujo, but it’s really the least the Wings can do for their AHL affiliate, considering that all the best Griffins’ skaters are here covering for injured players.

Joseph Clears Waivers, Headed to Grand Rapids

Red Wings goaltender Curtis Joseph has cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Joseph was placed on waivers earlier this week to make room during practice for Dominik Hasek, who returned from a groin injury Thursday night in a 4-4 tie with the St. Louis Blues. Detroit had been using three goalies during practice this season, but backup Manny Legace‘s superb performance last week was attributed to having more practice time with only two goalies on the roster.

The Red Wings have been trying to trade Joseph, who was aquired to fill the gap left by Hasek’s retirement after the 2002 season, since Hasek decided to return to the NHL at the end of the 2003 season. Joseph’s contract includes a no-trade clause, but Joseph has stated he would be willing to waive it if it meant he would be playing regularly again.

Rumored trade partners have included Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, but so far no deal has been reached with any of them.

This will be Joseph’s second stint of the season in Grand Rapids. He played one game with the Griffins in October to gauge his recovery from offseason surgery.

Wings Shake Off Sluggish Start to Tie Blues

Detroit got off to a slow start, but just as St. Louis seemed to start thinking they could put the game away, the Red Wings came roaring back in the third period to salvage a 4-4 tie with the Blues.

The Blues opened the scoring early, wanting to take advantage of any rust Dominik Hasek may have been feeling after his month-long layoff to recover from a groin injury. The first goal came just 4:41 into the game. Defenseman Chris Pronger scooped up a rebounded shot from his own zone and joined in the offensive rush, causing a 4-on-2. Pronger sent the puck up to Keith Tkachuk, who carried across the blue line before sending it up to Pavol Demitra low on the right side. Demitra threaded a shot right across Hasek’s goal crease, and Pronger knocked it into the net from the other side.

St. Louis followed up with power play goal barely over a minute later when Brendan Shanahan was in the box for hooking. Pronger took a shot towards the net from the right point. Scott Mellanby collected the puck, spun around with it, and handed it off to Tkachuk, who blasted a shot through Hasek and into the net.

Steve Thomas made an attempt to get Detroit’s game going by getting into a fight with tough guy Mike Danton. Thomas held his own against Danton, but the attempt to swing momentum was not as successful. Detroit only had two shots on net in the first period.

The Red Wings came out more strongly in the second period, generating many more shots on net, but Chris Osgood held them off and gave Bryce Salvador his opportunity to increase the Blues’ lead. Ryan Johnson won a faceoff in Detroit’s zone. Salvador picked up the puck and shot it through a screen. The puck deflected just slightly off of Kris Draper‘s stick, thus changing direction and fooling Hasek.

Thomas finally put the Red Wings on the board early in the third period. Nicklas Lidstrom made the clearing pass to send Thomas into the zone with the puck, and his hard shot went just off Osgood’s shoulder and in.

Steve Yzerman made it a one-goal game shortly thereafter. Draper passed the puck to Yzerman from behind the net, then moved to the front of the crease to screen Osgood. Yzerman took a shot from the left side. The puck hit the stick of a Blues player trying to push Draper out of the way, and deflected down to slide underneath Osgood.

Pronger lived up to his reputation as a thorn in Detroit’s side when he increased the Blues’ lead once more less than two minutes after Yzerman’s goal. Doug Weight intercepted a pass in the Red Wings’ zone, then sent the puck back to Pronger crossing the blue line. Pronger’s shot beat Hasek five-hole.

The game seemed to be winding down as a St. Louis victory when Pavel Datsyuk and Brett Hull both scored less than a minute apart. Datsyuk’s goal could have been an accident””he was handling the puck at the front of the goal crease when he was jostled by a Blues player, causing him to knock the puck backwards and past Osgood””but there was nothing accidental about Hull’s 14th goal of the season. Datsyuk centered the puck from the right corner, and Hull one-timed it from the high slot. Osgood managed to slow it down on the way through, but the puck just barely crossed the goal line and sent the game to overtime.

“With the guys we have, you’re never out of the game,” explained Hull. “You’ve got to think luck a little bit, but you’ve also got some perseverance and a gritty effort.”

The Red Wings controlled most of the overtime play, but they weren’t able to get the puck past Osgood again. Hasek was grateful for his team’s offensive capabilities. “It’s wonderful that we tied the game, but I feel a little bit embarrassed,” he said. “I don’t know what to say about the goals I gave up.”

Detroit rallied from their measly two shots in the first period to end up outshooting St. Louis by a count of 27 to 18. The Red Wings will leave St. Louis and head for Toronto, where they will face their ancient enemies the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.


Darryl Bootland was a healthy scratch for this game, giving Jamie Rivers a chance to get into the lineup. Rivers played on the fourth line with Jason Williams and Nathan Robinson, and logged 3:01 of ice time…. Hull’s goal was the 730th of his career, putting him within one of Marcel Dionne at third place on the all-time goals scored list…. the Wings keep hold of first place in the Central Division with 33 points, two ahead of the Blues.

Wings Overcome Ducks and Media Circus for Decisive Win

The media hype was tremendous. Sergei Fedorov returns to Detroit! Red Wings to face the team who shut them out in the playoffs! The Red Wings are used to media scrutiny, here in the heart of Hockeytown, and they put it all aside to play a solid game and beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 7-2.

Manny Legace was solid in his fourth start in a row, and saved a potentially game-breaking goal early in the first period when Petr Sykora got in all alone on a breakaway. Legace’s save led right into Detroit’s first goal. The Red Wings got the puck back down the ice, but the Ducks tried to clear it out of their zone. Kris Draper stole it away from Niclas Havelid. He handed the puck off to Kirk Maltby, who centered the puck for Mark Mowers to chip into the net.

Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff in the Anaheim zone late in the period, thus setting up Brett Hull to wind up and blast the puck right past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Then the scoring floodgates opened.

Maltby and Jason Williams scored within 50 seconds of each other midway through the second period, both with hard wrist shots which sailed over Giguere’s glove hand. Four goals was enough for Giguere, who reluctantly left the net to be replaced by Martin Gerber.

Gerber didn’t fare any better than did his counterpart. Detroit kept pressing their advantage. “They just got better and better and faster and faster and we got slower and slower,” said Ducks coach Mike Babcock.

Detroit’s speed led to their fifth goal. Steve Thomas held the puck in at the blue line. He passed it to Hull on the left wing side, who passed it to Schneider on the right side of the crease. Schneider lured Gerber over, then made a fast pass to Datsyuk, who had a wide open net into which he shot the puck.

Fedorov finally got Anaheim onto the scoreboard with 4:40 left in the second. He carried into the zone, then took a hard shot which beat Legace high on the stick side. However, Datsyuk answered with hardly a minute gone by. He beat Fedorov in a faceoff, drew the puck back to Schneider, then deflected Schneider’s shot down to slide beneath Gerber’s glove.

Brendan Shanahan beat Ruslan Salei to what should have been an icing call against Detroit””Salei went right past the puck without touching it””and Shanahan slapped the puck past Gerber to cap off Detroit’s scoring 1:53 into the third period. Tony Martensson scored his first goal for Anaheim at 8:53, leaving the final score at 7 to 2.

The Red Wings outshot the Mighty Ducks by a count of 40 to 23. The Wings won 35 of the 60 faceoffs.

In the end, the game wasn’t about avenging Detroit’s loss to Anaheim in last year’s playoffs. Nor was it about Fedorov’s much-ballyhooed first game against his old teammates. In the end, this game was about the present, with veterans Hull and Maltby playing strongly, and the future, with young stars-to-be Datsyuk, Williams, and Mowers running up the score. Sure, it was satisfying to see Detroit repeatedly beat Giguere, their bane of last spring, and finally chase him from the net. On some slightly shame-faced level, it was even satisfying to hear the fans booing Fedorov every time he got near the puck. But in the end, it was simply two points well-earned, a fine display of offensive talent, and a tide of momentum to carry Detroit into St. Louis to face the Blues tomorrow night.

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