Red Wings Down Blackhawks to Close Regular Season

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Sunday afternoon in a game that meant little to either team.

Chicago had been mathematically eliminated from earning a playoff spot three days earlier, while Detroit had clinched first overall on that same day.

The Red Wings rested many of their regulars, with Brian Rafalski, Chris Chelios, and Dallas Drake healthy scratches and others seeing their minutes drastically reduced but it was still captain Nicklas Lidstrom leading the way, scoring twice en route to the win.

Jiri Hudler opened the game’s scoring at 7:21 of the first period, taking a pass from behind the goal by Darren McCarty and tipping it past Nikolai Khabibulin from in front.

The assist marked McCarty’s first point in his second stint with Detroit.

Lidstrom’s first of the game put the Wings up by a pair with 1:31 left in the second period. While skating on a five-on-three, Lidstrom blasted a shot from the top of the left circle past Khabibulin.

Mark Hartigan made up for a gaffe that nearly led to a Chicago goal early in the third, taking the puck on a giveaway by Khabibulin and putting it into the net at 6:28.

Lidstrom added his second with 5:58 remaining, scoring another power play goal on a long blast, this one deflected off the skate of defender Duncan Keith.

Patrick Kane broke the shutout with just 2:20, scoring on the power play with Jonathan Toews in behind Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek.

Hasek stopped 27 Chicago shots, doing his part to protect the Red Wings’ league-leading goals-against to earn the team the Jennings Trophy, split between Hasek and Chris Osgood.

Khabibulin made 34 saves on 38 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings will now wait until the playoff schedule is made official to find out when Game One of their first-round series with the Nashville Predators will begin.

Wings’ Round One Opponent is Nashville

The Nashville Predators lost tonight against Chicago, locking them into eighth place in the Western Conference and securing a Detroit-Nashville first-round matchup.

The Wings and Preds have met in the playoffs once before, with Detroit ousting Nashville in six games. Manny Legace won the first two games and lost the next two before being replaced by Curtis Joseph, who won the two games he played.

Kopecky Out for Season

Tomas Kopecky is out for four-to-six months, having suffered a torn ACL and a sprained MCL in a collision with Manny Malhotra of Columbus Thursday night.

“It’s disappointing for us, but it’s really disappointing for him after missing most of the playoffs last year,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “He was starting to get more ice time and you could see his confidence growing.”

With Kopecky out, Holland will sign Justin Abdelkader to an entry-level deal on Friday and the former Michigan State star will remain with the team throughout the playoffs. Abdelkader made his Red Wings debut against the Blue Jackets and took on many of Kopecky’s minutes after the third-period injury.

Red Wings’ Rally Clinches Presidents’ Trophy

The Detroit Red Wings scored twice in the final 3:27 Thursday night, rebounding from down 2-1 to earn a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The win clinched their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in the past six seasons and sixth overall. No other team has won the award more than twice.

Johan Franzen tied the game on a Red Wings’ power play with 3:27 left in the third, putting home the rebound of a Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the blue line.

With 12 seconds left, Henrik Zetterberg gave the Red Wings their lone lead. Columbus netmnder Pascal Leclaire tried to play the puck on a dump in but it slipped past him as Zetterberg raced in. Zetterberg got to the puck behind the net before Leclaire could get back between the pipes, and the Swede’s backhand shot banked off of the goalie and into the net.

The Blue Jackets had scored first when Ron Hainsey scored on the power play at 7:13 of the second. After a fight for the puck on the right wing, Hainsey was left wide open acorss the ice for a blast past Dominik Hasek‘s glove.

Mark Hartigan evened things up 2:30 later, banging the rebound of a Niklas Kronwall shot past Leclaire.

Aaron Rome put Columbus back out in front before the Detroit comeback, scoring at 4:05 of the third on a blast from the blue line that slipped through Hasek.

Hasek made 20 saves on 22 shots on the night, with Leclaire stopping 36 of 39 attempts.

Justin Abdelkader made his Red Wings debut, in for the injured Kirk MaltbyTomas Kopecky left the game early in the third period with a knee injury.

More on Abdelkader’s Signing

Just got a few more details on Justin Abdelkader‘s coming stint with the Red Wings…

He’s expected to play tonight with Detroit before splitting the weekend with the Red Wings and Griffins, playing for Grand Rapids on Saturday before finishing the season with the Red Wings on Sunday. Since his amateur try-out is only for one game, this means he must be about to sign an entry-level pro deal.

The entry-level deal would be for three years, no idea what kind of money it would involve.

Abdelkader Joins Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings have signed forward Justin Abdelkader to an amateur tryout contract, making him available to play tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Muskegon native was Detroit’s 2005 second-round draft pick. He has played three seasons for the Michigan State Spartans, scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period of the 2007 NCAA Championship game.

By signing with the Red Wings, Abdelkader will forego his remaining season of eligiblity with the Spartans.

Abdelkader’s signing comes with Kirk Maltby unable to play due to an unspecified injury.

Red Wings’ assistant general manager Jim Nill said that the team is attempting to sign Abdelkader to a three-year entry-level deal. He must be signed by Saturday to be eligible for the playoffs.

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