In the Stanley Cup Finals, nothing is guaranteed. Certainly the Red Wings were not guaranteed a sweep, although many fans and members of the media would have had it so. Certainly the Carolina Hurricanes did not become Eastern Conference Champions solely by luck and injuries to other teams. They proved so tonight in a close, even game finally won in overtime by the Hurricanes, 3-2.

The game started at a strong pace. Carolina showed their good defensive trapping ability, making Detroit work hard to get the puck towards the net. They also were able to take the play into Detroit’s zone and create a few scoring chances near Dominik Hasek‘s net.

The Red Wings were able to open the scoring on a power play near the end of the first period. Glen Wesley had taken an interference call and been sent to the box. Steve Yzerman held a Carolina clearing attempt in at the blue line and fired the puck towards the net. The rebound bounced free of Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe at the same time as Tomas Holmstrom was being shoved on top of Irbe by Aaron Ward. Sergei Fedorov was able to skate out from behind the net and flip the puck over the tangle of bodies in front.

Detroit had penalty trouble of their own early in the second period: over a minute and a half of five-on-three penalty time as a result of overlapping calls to Igor Larionov and Kris Draper. In spite of strong play by Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios, Sean Hill was able to put the puck past Hasek. Hill’s wrist shot from the left wing side deflected off the stick of Yzerman and into Hasek’s net.

The Grind Line regained the lead for the Red Wings with 9:21 left in the second. Darren McCarty passed the puck from the right corner out to Kirk Maltby at the top of the right faceoff circle, and Maltby sent off a fast wrist shot past two Hurricane defenders and over Irbe’s right shoulder for the goal.

Unfortunately for Detroit, the Hurricanes tied the game back up with under a minute left in the period. A sloppy Detroit line change and a sharp pass by Ward gave Jeff O’Neill a breakaway chance. Hasek did get some of the shot, but the puck managed to roll underneath him and into the net.

Both teams played hard in the third period, especially near the end when overtime was looming, but neither team was able to score, and the game went to the extra period. Less than a minute in, O’Neill made the Red Wings hurt again. He stopped Freddy Olausson‘s shot around the boards back behind the net and sent it out front, where Hurricanes captain Ron Francis was in position to tap it in for the win.

Shots on net were almost even?the Hurricanes had a slight edge, twenty-six to twenty-five. Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals will be Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

This is Carolina’s first win at the Joe since moving to Carolina from Hartford in 1997?. No European goaltender has ever yet won the Stanley Cup. This year, with Czech Dominik Hasek and Latvian Arturs Irbe in the nets, it’s guaranteed. And that is the only guarantee you will get in this Stanley Cup Final.

Wings Down ‘Canes in a Whirlwind

Red Wings netminder Manny Legace bounced back from a neck injury suffered Saturday night against Nashville to lead Detroit to a 5-2 win over the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.

Legace stopped twenty-six of twenty-eight shots in a game he didn’t expect to even dress for. With Dominik Hasek sick, Legace became the starter and shut down the Hurricanes.

Detroit jumped out to an early lead when Mathieu Dandenault scored on the rebound from a Pavel Datsyuk shot just 1:22 into the first period. Datsyuk scored his first NHL goal exactly five minutes later, flipping a backhand shot past Carolina goaltender Tom Barrasso.

We got two goals out of the young line,” Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said. “Mathieu Dandenault scored one and Pavel Datsyuk scored his first NHL goal. They give us a lot of energy out there.”

Brendan Shanahan added his ninth goal of the season just over two minutes later and the Wings carried a three goal lead into the first intermission.

The Hurricanes bounced back during the second period. Sami Kapanen took a pass from Sandis Ozolinsh to get a breakaway and score with 6:35 remaining in the period. Former Red Wing Aaron Ward also assisted on the goal.

Ron Francis deflected a shot past Legace 2:09 later to bring the ‘Canes within one. Carolina kept the pressure on for the rest of the period but Legace came up strong and kept the Wings in the lead.

Steve Yzerman put the Red Wings back in control, beating Barrasso at 4:10 of the third. The Hurricanes were never able to get back in the game, and Kris Draper ended it with an empty net goal with 1:19 remaining in the game.

The Red Wings complete their three game road trip tonight against the Stars as Brett Hull makes his first trip back to Dallas since signing with Detroit. Faceoff is at 8:30 PM.

A Storm Brewing

Part five of the Red Wings Reunion Tour 2001-02 takes place tonight as Detroit heads to Carolina to face former Wing defenseman Aaron Ward and his new Hurricane teammates.

Ward’s team holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division after an overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday and Ward himself already has two assists and a plus-five rating heading into tonight’s matchup.

The Red Wings are coming off a one-to-zero win over the Nashville Predators in a game which saw backup goaltender Manny Legace suffer a minor neck injury. Legace could dress for tonight’s game. To compound matters, starting goaltender Dominik Hasek felt ill during practice Monday, forcing the Red Wings to take shots against minor-league call-up Jason Elliot.

Should both Hasek and Legace be unable to start tonight, Elliot would be forced to make his first NHL start. Elliot is 0-3-0 with Cincinatti of the AHL this season, with a 5.09 goals against average and a .813 save percentage.

Hasek is expected to start, but Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland acknowledged that any of the three netminders could play between the pipes tonight.

In the meantime, the Red Wings look to continue their road unbeaten streak. Detroit is 4-0 on the road this season, including overtime wins over the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders.

2001-2002 NHL Schedule Released

The National Hockey League released it’s schedule for the 2001-2002 season on Wednesday.

The Red Wings will start the season in San Jose on October 4. Detroit’s home opener will be on October 10 against Calgary.

Early in the season, the Red Wings will host the Buffalo Sabres (October 12) and Los Angeles Kings (October 20). The Wings aquired Vezina-winning goaltender Dominik Hasek from the Sabres for Slava Kozlov and a draft pick, and signed former-King Luc Robitaille as a free agent.

The Red Wings will play their first game against Aaron Ward and his new team in Carolina on October 30.

Detroit’s only matchup with the Boston Bruins, with whom former Red Wing Martin Lapointe signed as a free agent, is March 16 in Boston.

The first meeting between the Wings and arch-rival Colorado will take place on December 5 in Detroit.

The season ends with what could be a crucial home-and-home series against division rival St. Louis on April 13 and 14.

Ward Dealt to ‘Canes

Restricted free-agent defenseman Aaron Ward was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a second-round draft pick on Monday.

Ward, who fell out of favor with Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, had requested a trade after being a healthy scratch for all six of Detroit’s playoff games. “It’s a good situation for me,” said Ward. “It gives me an opportunity to come in and prove myself.”

Carolina had shown interest in Ward previously, and will now use him to replace defensemen Dave Karpa and Kevin Hatcher, who the team lost through free agency.