Nieminen Suspended for Hit on Joseph

The National Hockey League announced Friday the one-game suspension of Calgary Flames forward Ville Nieminen. The suspension resulted from a hit Nieminen put on Detroit Red Wings goaltender Curtis Joseph in the final seconds of the Red Wings’ 4-2 win over the Flames in Gave Four of their second-round playoff matchup on Thursday night.

With fewer than four second remaining in the game, Nieminen skated in all alone at Joseph and raised his elbow into Joseph’s mask.

Officials quickly escorted Nieminen off the ice before Red Wings enforcer Darren McCarty could settle the score with him.

Nieminen will miss Game Five in Detroit on Saturday.

Tied Again: Wings Even Series with 4-2 Win

The Detroit Red Wings evened their first round playoff series with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Thursday night. The teams have now won two games each as they come back to Detroit for Game Five on Saturday afternoon.

The talk of the game was officiating, as the Red Wings had only one power play in the game, the only call on the Flames that couldn’t be ignored.

With the Red Wings leading, 4-2, and just four seconds remaining in the game, Calgary agitator Ville Nieminen skated in without the puck at Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph and threw an elbow to his head. Officials ushered the smiling Nieminen off the ice before Detroit enforcer Darren McCarty could settle the score.

Twenty seconds earlier, the Red Wings sealed their victory with an empty-net goal by Henrik Zetterberg.

Detroit had opened the scoring with the first first-period goal of the series for either team. Only 26 seconds into the game, Kris Draper carried the puck behind the Calgary goal and sent a pass out from the right side of Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Kirk Maltby came into the slot to get the pass and one-timed a shot into the net to give the Red Wings the early lead.

Detroit expanded their lead three minutes into the second period on a goal by Boyd Devereaux. Devereaux, inserted into the lineup for only the second time this postseason, twice held the puck in the Flames zone before getting the puck to Kris Draper as he skated through the right faceoff circle. Draper gave the puck to Ray Whitney, who took it to the bottom of the circle before sending it back up top to Devereaux, who one-timed a long shot past Kiprusoff to put the Red Wings up by two.

The Flames struck twice in 18 seconds to tie the game. At 5:45 of the second, Martin Gelinas got a loose puck at the side of the net and poked it by Joseph, who was attempting a poke-check. At 6:03, Nieminen was left all alone in front of Joseph and outwaited him before lifting the puck over his glove.

The Red Wings regained the lead just past the midway point of the third period. With 9:58 remaining in the game, Tomas Holmstrom put the puck between Kiprusoff’s pads. Defenseman Mathieu Dandenault pinched in and reached behind Kiprusoff to knock the puck over the goal line, scoring the eventual game-winner.

Detrit outshot Calgary, 29-27. Joseph and Kiprusoff each made 25 saves. The Red Wings did not score on their three-second “power play” at the end of the game and the Flames were held scoreless in their two tries with the man-advantage.

The NHL will likely review Nieminen’s actions at the end of the game. A suspension could be handed down from the league offices but the chances of that happening were unknown as the game came to a close.

Curtis Joseph celebrated his 37th birthday with the win Thursday night, just one day after Nicklas Lidstrom turned 34.

Flames Regain Series Lead with 3-2 Win

Shean Donovan scored just 40 seconds after a Jiri Fischer goal to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night. The Flames now have a 2-1 lead in their second round playoff matchup.

Donovan fought off Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk to break through the left faceoff circle. He took a pass from Marcus Nilson and skated around Red Wings’ goaltender Curtis Joseph before putting the puck in the net for the eventual game-winning-goal.

Fischer had tied the game with 8:16 remaining in the second period, firing a one-timer by Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff off a faceoff win by Datsyuk and a pass by Brett Hull.

The Red Wings opened the scoring 1:17 into the second with a goal by Robert Lang. Lang one-timed a pass from Brendan Shanahan on net but Darren McCarty couldn’t handle the puck on the doorstep. The puck bounced back to Lang, who put it in the net to give Detroit the lead.

Calgary responded 2:21 later with a Stephane Yelle goal. Yelle fired a shot from the far edge of the right faceoff circle that seemed to deflect off the stick of Mathieu Schneider before slipping between Joseph’s pads.

On their fourth-straight power play, the Flames took the lead. At 5:46 of the second, Jarome Iginla was left alone in the slot and one-timed a shot past Joseph to put the Flames in front for the first time in regulation in the series.

Joseph stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings. Kipprusoff made 27 saves on 29 shots.

Detroit was held scoreless on their two powerplay attempts, while Calgary went 1-for-4.

Game Four is Thursday night in Calgary.

Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios did not play. He was scratched with an “upper-body injury.” Jason Woolley and Jamie Rivers played for the first time this postseason.

Wings Even Series: Yzerman Leads Detroit to 5-2 Win

Steve Yzerman scored two second-period goals and the power-play converted three times as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-2. The Red Wings and Flames are now even in their second round playoff series at a game apiece.

Detroit opened the game’s scoring on the power play. Tomas Holmstrom scored his second goal of the playoffs just 3:02 into the period, deflecting a Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the high slot between the legs of Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

With 9:54 remaining in the middle frame, Detroit went up by a pair of goals. As a Mathieu Schneider roughing penalty came to a close, Mathieu Dandenault got the puck in the Detroit zone and raced up the near-side boards. He carried the puck all the way behind the Calgary net and wrapped around before sending a pass to Yzerman, perched on the doorstep. Yzerman put the puck into the net for his first home playoff goal in 11 games and his second goal of this postseason. The goal came one second after Schneider stepped out of the penalty box.

Yzerman didn’t wait long to score his third playoff goal of the year. With 7:41 remaining in the second, Yzerman again was parked on the doorstep when Kirk Maltby sent a pass to him. This time Kiprusoff was in better position, but Yzerman hesitated just long enough to roof a shot over the Calgary goalie’s shoulder and put the Red Wings up by three.

The Flames responded 1:31 later, when Shean Donovan held off Derian Hatcher and reached to deflect a Marcus Nilson pass by Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph, who had hardly been tested to that point.

The Red Wings clamped down defensively in the third period and Calgary’s frustration showed. With 6:06 remaining, Donovan went off for slashing. Mike Commodore put the Red Wings on a 5-on-3 just 49 seconds later when he slashed Holmstorm in front of the goal.

The Wings needed only six seconds of the two-man advantage to score. Robert Lang won the puck back to Pavel Datsyuk, who passed it off to Lidstrom. Lidstrom fed Brett Hull for one of his trademark one-timers, giving the Red Wings a 4-1 lead with 5:11 remaining in the game.

With Commodore still in the box and 4:35 remaining on the clock, Robyn Regehr was called for cross-checking Holmstrom. The Red Wings converted on the 5-on-3 again with 3:52 remaining when Lidstrom scored on a shot from the blue line that may have been tipped in the slot by Brendan Shanahan.

Although the Red Wings were in firm control of the scoreboard, the physical play didn’t stop. With 3:18 remaining Chris Chelios went to the box for slashing and Calgary’s Martin Gelinas scored just eight seconds after the penlaty expired.

With 40 seconds remaining in the game, Calgary’s Matthew Lombardi and Detroit’s Jason Williams went off for roughing and Shanahan went for charging.

Sixteen seconds later, Calgary captain Jarome Iginla slashed at the back of Detroit defenseman Derian Hatcher’s legs and the two dropped the gloves. Iginla landed the first shots but Hatcher tore off Iginla’s visored helmet and landed several hits to the head before he was pushed down. Meanwhile, Commodore and Darren McCarty fought, keeping Commodore from stepping in on the Hatcher-Iginla fight.

The final half-minute of the game was penalty- and goal-free.

The Red Wings finished 3-for-6 on the power play while the Flames went 0-for-5. Joseph stopped 14 of the 16 shots he faced. Kiprusoff made 27 saves on 32 Detroit shots.

The series moves to Calgary for Game Three on Tuesday night.

Calgary defenseman Rhett Warriner left the game in the first period and was taken to a hospital for a possible eye injury. He returned to the game in the third period but did not play a shift… Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios suffered what appeared to be an arm injury in the second period but missed only one shift.

OT Loss in Game One

In spite of dominant play by Detroit early in the game, goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff allowed his Calgary Flames time to find their skating legs and climb back to a 2-1 overtime win.

Detroit was clearly the leading team in the first period, outshooting Calgary 13 to 2. The Flames, for their part, looked weary and unable to challenge Detroit or do much to defend their own net. Kiprusoff, fortunately for them, held his ground and kept the Red Wings off the scoreboard until the second period.

Robert Lang opened the scoring with 6:14 gone in the second. Brendan Shanahan carried the puck into the Flames’ zone, then centered a pass to Lang. Lang was being held up by defenseman Rhett Warrener as he pushed towards the net, but he held Warrener off with one arm and shot the puck towards the net with the other arm. The puck flew up and over Kiprusoff’s blocker arm.

Jarome Iginla had a good chance to tie the game at the end of a Calgary penalty. Martin Gelinas stepped out of the penalty box to join the charge up the ice, giving the Flames a three-on-one rush. Luckily for Curtis Joseph, Iginla’s shot rang off the crossbar.

Joseph’s luck didn’t hold, however, as Robyn Regehr tied the game with two minutes left in the second. Regehr shot the puck from the left point, through a screen of multiple players from both teams. Somehow the puck found its way through the mass of bodies, but Joseph was unable to see it until it was too late.

Chuck Kobasew nearly moved the Flames into the lead early in the third, but Joseph was able to get his leg pad down flat to the ice and hold steady while Kobasew whacked at the puck.

The Red Wings, as the game wore on, began to seem tired. The Flames, on the other hand, seemed to gain energy, and began to consistently beat the Red Wings to loose pucks and break up potential scoring plays by poking the puck away at the blue line.

Marcus Nilson’s first career playoff goal ended the game with just 2:39 gone into overtime. Gelinas beat Jiri Fisher to the puck behind the net. Mathieu Dandenault left the front of the net to help Fischer. As he did so, Gelinas threw the puck out front to Nilson coming up the left side. Nilson one-timed a shot which sailed into the net just over the top of Joseph’s catching glove.

Detroit outshot Calgary by a count of 29 to 18, and won 40 of the 68 faceoffs. Neither team was able to score on the power play: Detroit was 0 for 6 and Calgary was 0 for 3. The Red Wings and Flames will continue their conference semi-final series with Game Two Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

Steve Thomas was out this game due to a groin injury. Jason Williams came into the lineup in his stead.

Wings to Meet Flames in Round Two

After defeating the Nashville Predators in Game Six of their first round matchup, the Detroit Red Wings had to wait to find out who they would play in the second round. After Monday night, the wait is over.

The Calgary Flames earned a 3-2 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of their first round series, advancing them to a second round meeting with the Red Wings and pitting the San Jose Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche.

Had the Canucks won Game Seven, the Red Wings would have faced the Avalanche in the second round and Vancouver would have advanced to play San Jose.

Detroit’s first round schedule is as follows:

April 22 – @ Detroit – 7:30
April 24 – @ Detroit – 3:00
April 27 – @ Calgary – 9:00
April 29 – @ Calgary – 10:00
May 1 – @ Detroit – 3:00*
May 3 – @ Calgary – 10:00*
May 5 – @ Detroit – 7:00*
* denotes “if necessary”

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