Late-period Goals Not Enough to Lift Rangers over Red Wings

The New York Rangers scored a goal in the final 2:30 of each period Saturday afternoon but it wasn’t enough to stop the Detroit Red Wings from picking up a 4-3 victory.

The Rangers opened the game’s scoring with 1:15 remaining in the first period. From behind the net, Martin Rucinsky sent a pass out to Jaromir Jagr in the low slot. Jagr put a one-timer back on net and past Detroit goalie Manny Legace to put New York on the board.

The Red Wings responded at 7:45 of the second.

With Detroit on the power play just after a five-on-three opportunity expired, Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot on net from the blue line. Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist knocked the puck into the left circle but Robert Lang was there to pick up the rebound and lift it over Lundqvist and into the net.

Just 52 seconds later, Detroit took the lead on Brendan Shanahan‘s first goal of the night. His shot from the right circle caught the top of Lundqvist’s stick and deflected into the net.

The Rangers retied the game with 15 seconds remaining in the middle frame, when a Michael Nylander shot beat Legace as Ville Nieminen pushed past Lidstrom and crashed the net. Legace argued for an interference call to no avail.

Shanahan’s second goal of the night put Detroit back in front at 5:48 of the final period.

Chris Chelios drew most of the New York defense to him in the high slot while Henrik Zetterberg had the puck in the corner to Lundqvist’s right. Zetterberg sent a pass out to Shanahan at the top of the crease but Lundqvist stopped the attempted one-timer. The rebound bounced free and Shanahan jumped up to lift the puck over the falling Rangers goalie.

Johan Franzen scored the final Detroit goal of the night with 5:21 left in the game, deflecting a pass from Kris Draper past Lundqvist.

New York’s Jed Ortmeyer pulled the Rangers back within one on a shot that deflected off Detroit defenseman Brett Lebda with 2:26 remaining but it wouldn’t be enough to get his team back in the game.

Lundqvist stopped a flurry of Detroit chances in the game’s final minutes but the Rangers were unable to tie it up.

A shot by Shanahan in the game’s closing seconds entered the empty Ranger net after time expired.

Legace finished the game with 21 saves on 24 shots while the rookie Lundqvist stopped 32 of 36 shots, including 15 of 17 in the second period alone.

Detroit held the Rangers scoreless on three power play chances and converted one of their five opportunities.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Wednesday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

New York was without defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, who suffered a sprained knee during pre-game warmups.

Avs Acquire Defenseman Marchment

The deals continue as the NHL’s March 11 trade deadline approaches.

The Colorado Avalanche shored up their defensive corps on Saturday night, acquiring Bryan Marchment from the San Jose Sharks for two draft picks in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Marchment, known for his physical play that borders on illegal, is most likely only being rented for the playoff run. He will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“I don’t think there was any way we were going to be able to sign him (this summer), so I guess he was the classic rental player at this point,” San Jose general manager Dean Lombardi said.

This is the second major trade the Sharks have made in the last week. Captain Owen Nolan was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

San Jose is also rumored to be shopping forwards Teemu Selanne and Vincent Damphousse.

This is the fourth season in a row that Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix has dealt for a defenseman at the trade deadline. In 2000 he acquired Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins, in 2001 it was Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings, and last season he brought in Darius Kasparaitis from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Marchment has scored two goals and nine assists for eleven points this season with San Jose. He also has 108 penalty minutes in sixty-seven games.

NHL Kicks Off Season in Carolina, Colorado and LA

The National Hockey League kicked off its 2002-2003 season on Wednesday with three games. The Carolina Hurricanes hosted the New York Rangers, the Dallas Stars visited the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings hosted the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Kings’ game against Phoenix featured ceremonies leading up to the retirement of Wayne Gretzky‘s number. Gretzky’s former teammates and coaches were on hand as the banner bearing his #99 was unveiled in the rafters of the Staples Center.

It marked the third time that Gretzky’s number had been retired. The NHL removed it from use during the 1999 All-Star Game and the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky’s first NHL team, followed suit later.

Also in honor of Gretzky, the Kings wore their old-style jerseys during their 4-1 win over Gretzky-owned Phoenix. The white, sliver and black jerseys were originally worn from 1988-1998 and were the only style of Kings jersey Gretzky wore.

In the other games of the night, Colorado honored their franchise’s eight straight division championship, a streak reaching back to their last season as the Quebec Nordiques, before battling to a 1-1 tie with Dallas. Stars’ netminder Marty Turco made forty saves in the effort.

The revamped New York Rangers downed the defending Eastern Conference Champion Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1. Rangers captain Mark Messier scored twice and new acquisitions Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis were held pointless.

Avs Acquire Morris

The Colorado Avalanche boosted their defense Tuesday, acquiring young defenseman Derek Morris from the Calgary Flames in a multiplayer deal involving clutch performer Chris Drury.

The Avalanche sent Drury and fellow forward Stephane Yelle to the Flames for Morris and veteran forwards Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond.

Morris was Calgary’s highest-scoring defenseman with thirty assists and a total of thirty-four points in only sixty-one games.

Drury scored twenty-one goals and notched twenty-five assists for the Avalanche last season. He had three game-winning goals in Colorado’s playoff run. Yelle had five goals and twelve assists.

Shantz played only forty games last season due to injury. He started his ten-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks and was traded to Calgary in 1998.

McAmmond joins his fifth NHL team, having played for Edmonton, Chicago and Philadelphia before joining Calgary last season. His twenty-one goals and thirty assists were good for third in Flames’ team scoring.

Morris will fill the void in the Avalanche defense left by the departure of Darius Kasparaitis, who signed this summer with the New York Rangers. He joins Rob Blake and Adam Foote as the strength of the Colorado blue line.

Colorado defenseman Lance Pitlick announced his retirement today.

On to the Finals!

For the past two days, ever since the Red Wings kept their playoff hopes alive by winning Game Six, the Detroit media has been full of playoff cliches. “It’s a do or die situation.” “The first goal will be huge.” “The Red Wings need to play to win.” Fans took up time at work discussing hockey?perfect strangers started talking hockey while waiting in line at the grocery store or in dentists’ waiting rooms. Anxiety? Yes. Anticipation? Yes. Excitement? Oh, yes.

The fans and media need not have worried. Game Seven was a dream game, the game we all imagined but never dared to give voice to, a stunning 7-0 victory to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals and give the Colorado Avalanche a sendoff to their summer vacation.

The Red Wings came out fighting, and the first goal WAS huge, as well as early and from a not-so-expected, but highly deserving source. Igor Larionov won a faceoff in Colorado’s zone and got the puck back to Luc Robitaille. Robitaille passed back to Steve Duchesne at the left point. Duchesne fired towards the net, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped it as he was being shoved to the ice. The puck redirected between the legs of Greg Devries and past Patrick Roy for the all-important first goal.

Second shot, second goal. The Red Wings continued to control. Steve Yzerman passed the puck to Sergei Fedorov at the blue line. Fedorov carried it in up the left wing side. His hard shot deflected off the stick of Rob Blake, off Roy’s blocker, and into the net.

What next? Keep right on going. After the Wings very neatly killed off an obstruction interference penalty to Freddy Olausson, Robitaille increased the lead by one more. He carried the puck into the zone and passed it to Larionov behind the net. Larionov skated towards the blue line, but gave the puck back to Robitaille on the way. Robitaille’s patient shot slid through Roy’s five-hole for a 3-0 game.

Holmstrom scored again before the end of the first period. Robitaille carried the puck into the zone, splitting between two defensemen. Roy came out of the crease to block the shot, but the rebound angled out to where Holmstrom was coming up with speed to flip it into the net and set a new record?Patrick Roy had never before given up more than three goals in one period.

The Wings started patiently in the second. Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios paired up to start, to keep the Avalanche from scoring an early goal and possibly gaining momentum. Colorado did try to pressure, but Hasek was huge in net again, and the Wings again scored early. Boyd Devereaux fought for the puck behind the net, then put the centering pass out front for Brett Hull. Hull looked toward Roy’s far side, lured him away from the goalpost, and then whipped the puck into the space Roy had vacated.

It took the sixth Detroit goal, a power play goal by Olausson from a splendid cross-crease pass by Yzerman, to chase Roy from the net. Backup goalie David Aebischer came in to take his place. The fans filling the Joe let Roy know that he was not forgotten: “We want Roy!” they taunted.

Colorado started the third period slowly, without nearly as much pressure as they are normally capable of. The Red Wings managed to shut them down for the most part, sending in only one forechecker and playing strongly in the neutral zone to prevent any turnovers or careless play. When the Avalanche did break through, Hasek was ready for them.

The Avalanche did think they had ruined Hasek’s shutout when Chris Drury put the puck in the net with 7:10 remaining, but video review showed that Drury had kicked it in, and the goal was disallowed.

Finally, Pavel Datsyuk put the icing on the victory cake during a Red Wing power play with 3:51 remaining. Duchesne passed to Hull from the left point to the left half boards, and Hull angled a pass across to Datsyuk on the right side. Datsyuk’s shot deflected off the stick of Darius Kasparaitis, off Aebischer’s arm, and into the net. The time ran down, the buzzer sounded, and the fans screamed for their team, the new Western Conference Champions. The Clarence Campbell Bowl, the award for Western Conference victory, was presented, and Steve Yzerman accepted it graciously, showing it off to the fans before putting it carefully away. The Campbell Bowl is nice, but ultimately not important. A bigger trophy is calling.

The Avalanche go home. The Red Wings advance. They will meet their opponent, the surprising Carolina Hurricanes, for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, on Tuesday evening at Joe Louis Arena.

Dominik Hasek posts a new NHL record tonight. Never before has a goalie earned more than five shutouts in a single postseason. And just think, he has at least four more chances!?. This was the most lopsided playoff victory since the NHL expanded in 1967.

Last Minute Deal Brings Slegr to Hockeytown

The Detroit Red Wings waited until nine minutes before the NHL’s trade deadline to make a move.

After seeing highly-coveted Darius Kasparaitis head to the Colorado Avalanche and Lyle Odelein get dealt to the division-rival Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit dealt Yuri Butsayev and their third-round pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft to the Atlanta Thrashers for gritty defenseman Jiri Slegr.

Slegr, twenty-nine, has three goals and five assists in thirty-eight games with the Thrashers. He brings with him a minus twenty-one rating and fifty-one penalty minutes. He had previously played for Vancouver, Edmonton and Pittsburgh before being dealt to Atlanta last season.

Butsayev, twenty-two and the Red Wings’ first choice, forty-ninth overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, has six goals and four assists across three seasons in the NHL with Detroit.

The trade is one of thirteen reported on Tuesday, the day of the NHL’s trade deadline.

Kasparaitis Colorado-Bound

Darius Kasparaitis, the gritty, oft-penalized defenseman rumored to be heading to Detroit at the NHL trade deadline, has been traded to the Colorado Avalanche in return for forward Ville Nieminen and defenseman Rick Berry.

This is the third time in as many seasons that the Avalanche have made a deadline deal for a defenseman. Last year they aquired Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings. In 2000, Ray Bourque was sent to Colorado after spending over twenty years with the Boston Bruins.

Kasparaitis, twenty-nine, has two goals and twelve assists in sixty-nine games this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s racked up 123 penalty minutes and has a minus-one plus/minus rating.

Nieminen, twenty-four, has twelve goals and sixteen assists in his sophomore season with the Avalanche. He was drafted seventy-eighth overall by Colorado in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Berry, twenty-three and also in his sophomore NHL season, has no points and is a plus-one in fifty-seven game with the Avalanche. He was Colorado’s third choice, fifty-fifth overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Detroit’s offer to the Penguins is rumored to have been speedy defenseman / right wing Mathieu Dandenault and an another unnamed young player.

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