Legace, Cujo Lead Wings Over Predators

History seemed to repeat itself for Manny Legace. Last season, he was crashed into and injured in Nashville, in the middle of a well-played game, and the same thing happened to him tonight. Curtis Joseph came in for him and continued the excellent goaltending. At the other end of the ice, Tomas Vokoun and Jan Lasak split the netminding duties less skillfully, and the Red Wings took a 4-2 win over the Predators.

Kris Draper opened the scoring for Detroit 6:02 into the game. Brendan Shanahan took a shot from the left side which went wide and hit the back boards. The puck bounced right out to Draper on the right side of the net, and Draper took just a second to settle it before putting it high past Tomas Vokoun.

The Red Wings got a four minute power play to work with to try and open up their lead when Adam Hall was given a double minor for high-sticking, but Nashville’s penalty kill was efficient enough that the Wings never got a real chance to set up. In fact, Manny Legace had to be sharp to stop David Legwand on a breakaway shot.

The Predators had a great chance of their own when they wound up with just over a minute of five-on-three power play with both Tomas Holmstrom and Chris Chelios in the box. Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Nicklas Lidstrom were the three chosen to defend the net, and they did an excellent job, blocking most of the shots before they could get through. Legace was easily able to handle the ones that did get to him.

Boyd Devereaux increased Detroit’s lead early in the second. Maxim Kuznetsov forced a turnover at Detroit’s blue line and sent the puck ahead to Sean Avery, who carried in to Nashville’s zone. He dropped the puck off for Devereaux, who made a quick wrist shot which deflected off the rear of Kimmo Timonen and past Vokoun.

When Avery faked out both Bill Houlder and Vokoun to score Detroit’s third goal just a few minutes later, that signaled the end of the game for Vokoun. Nashville sent in backup goalie Jan Lasak instead, for his first game this season. Lasak was tested quickly by the Wings, but his teammates got the puck to the other end of the ice. Legwand was pushed off the puck in front of the net, but no one bothered to pick up the puck. Andreas Johansson managed to get in, fake a low, left shot, and then put the puck high to Legace’s right.

The Predators got another shorthanded scoring chance on another four minute penalty, but this one didn’t end so well as the last one. Scott Hartnell got out on a breakaway, but he forgot to stop at the other end and crashed into Legace, kneeing him in the helmet. Legace had to be helped off the ice for examination, and Curtis Joseph came in to take his place.

The Wings used the rest of that four minute power play to score. Lidstrom sent the puck towards the net from the blue line. Brett Hull took a shot at the puck and it deflected high above the net and players. As the puck came back down, Sergei Fedorov slapped it out of the air and into an empty corner of Lasak’s net.

Hartnell scored the Predators’ second goal midway through the third period, on a very similar play to the one he attempted against Legace. His teammates won a faceoff just outside the Detroit blue line, and got the puck back far enough to spring Hartnell. He crashed the net again, this time getting the puck in before he knocked the goalie down. Chelios took exception to Hartnell’s tendency to bulldoze goaltenders (once might be an accident, but twice in one game?), and both of them served time for roughing each other up twice before the end of the game. Both times, Chelios received double minors while Hartnell received only the single roughing calls.

The final count of shots on net was 35-23 in favor of Nashville. The Red Wings will play their next game tomorrow night in Dallas against the Stars for their fourth meeting of the season. The previous three have all ended in ties.

Nick Lidstrom‘s assist on Sergei Fedorov’s goal was the 500th of his NHL career… Team doctors reported that Manny Legace was more dazed and shaken up than anything else after being run over by Scott Hartnell. They plan to run more tests, but they feel he should be fine.

Defensive Woes

The Nashville Predators were winless coming into tonight’s game, and they were desperate. They were fully willing to take advantage of any slack the Red Wings might give them. They had some key opportunities to do so. Sloppy Detroit defense and an opportunistic Nashville offense led to a 3-1 win for the Predators.

A defensive lapse early gave the Predators the first goal of the night. Andreas Johansson got the puck away from the boards in Detroit’s zone. He managed to deke around Sergei Fedorov, then around Brendan Shanahan, and slid the puck into the net underneath Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings got their first power play of the game a minute later when Greg Klassen was sent to the box for hooking, and they came back to tie with a crisp passing play. Fedorov held the puck in the Predator’s zone at the right point. He sent it up to Luc Robitaille at the half-boards, and Robitaille passed it to Igor Larionov. Larionov then angled the puck out to Nick Lidstrom, who slapped the puck past Mike Dunham to score his 150th career goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators scored a power play goal of their own less than a minute later, with Kris Draper in the box for high-sticking. Kimmo Timonen shot the puck from the blue line, and Adam Hall tipped it on its way through. With the redirection of the puck and the screen of players in front of the net, Joseph never even had a chance to see the puck before it was too late.

Still the Red Wings couldn’t get their defensive play together, and the Predators took advantage of it again. Andy Delmore got a pass through to David Legwand in the slot, and the rebound from Legwand’s shot was allowed to bounce free to Johansson standing unhindered near the side of the net. Johansson got the puck into the empty space before Joseph could slide across to stop him.

The second and third periods saw the Red Wings tighten their defense somewhat, but not enough to keep Joseph from having to make some spectacular saves. Most notable was a save in the second period against former Red Wing Brent Gilchrist, who got around the net unmolested, took a pass, and flung it at the net. Joseph flung himself across the net so the puck would land harmlessly in his midsection. Joseph also gave the Wings a chance to climb back into the game when he stopped a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Timonen. That time, he dropped his stick to slide across cleanly and keep the puck out.

The Red Wings got a power play with just over three minutes left to play, when Denis Arkhipov was sent out for high-sticking. They even pulled Joseph from the net to go six-on-four for part of the time. They controlled the puck from the start of that power play to the final buzzer, but Dunham came up huge against the barrage of shots, and the Predators came away with their first win of the season.

Dunham stopped thirty-seven of thirty-eight shots throughout the night, while Joseph stopped twenty-seven of thirty. The Red Wings return home for their next game; they will face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday evening. The Sharks recently signed holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a contract, so they will be at full strength for this next meeting.

Sean Avery was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, but was a healthy scratch for this game”¦. Brett Hull suffered a severe cut above his left eye midway through the second period when a Nashville player’s skate came up and hit Hull in the face. Hull was led off and given a lot of stitches by Nashville’s team doctor, but he returned to play in the third period. “Just in time for Halloween,” said Hull about the bloody gash on his forehead.

Staying on Top

Brendan Shanahan scored three goals for his second hat trick of the season and the fifteenth of his career, to help the Red Wings defeat the Nashville Predators, 6-3.

The Predators opened the scoring 6:19 into the game. Stu Grimson shot the puck from behind the net, and it deflected off the stick of Chris Chelios and over Dominik Hasek‘s shoulder for the goal.

The Wings answered just under a minute and a half later. Mathieu Dandenault passed the puck cross-ice from the blue line up to Shanahan by the net, and Shanahan was able to rifle it past Nashville goalie Mike Dunham.

The Predators got a chance to go on the power play with 8:56 left in the first, when Shanahan was sent to the box for holding. However, the Red Wings got two shorthanded scoring opportunities; first a two-on-one with Brett hull and Steve Yzerman, and then a breakaway by Sergei Fedorov, but Dunham came up with big saves both times.

Detroit didn’t get a power play chance until 7:33 into the second period. David Legwand hit Chelios in the face with his stick, and was sent to the box for four minutes. Chelios, meanwhile, went to the locker room for sutures on the deep cut on his nose and forehead. The Wings were able to capitalize on the power play opportunity when Shanahan scored again, taking a pass from Fedorov and firing hard from the left point, while Tomas Holmstrom screened the goalie. There was some confusion at first as to whether the goal belonged to Shanahan, or whether Holmstrom had tipped the puck in, but it was finally awarded to Shanahan.

Chelios was stitched up and back on the ice in the third period, just in time to see Kris Draper give Detroit a 3 to 1 lead by picking up a well-aimed pass from Kirk Maltby, squeezing right between two Nashville defensemen, and faking out Dunham for the goal.

The Predators didn’t even consider giving up. Cliff Ronning scored twice in a row. His first came 4:32 into the period, off a rebound from Greg Johnson’s shot. His tying goal came with nine minutes left in the game. He knocked down Igor Larionov, grabbed up the puck, and took off down the ice, managing to fool Hasek with a faked pass.

Maltby broke the tie only eighteen seconds later. He took a pass from Darren McCarty and one-timed the shot right past Dunham and into the net.

Draper added his second goal of the night with just over four minutes left to play, when he and Nicklas Lidstrom got a two-on-one rush up the ice. Draper passed to Lidstrom, and Lidstrom passed back, giving Draper the chance to put the puck behind Dunham.

Detroit really put the game away with 1:41 left in the game, while Nashville’s Cale Hulse was in the penalty box for tripping. Chelios banked a shot off the back boards and up to Shanahan, waiting patiently by the goal for just such an opportunity to flip the puck into the net.

Detroit’s power play was two for three against Nashville, even though the Predators have the second best penalty-killing percentage in the NHL. Hasek was able to make twenty-nine saves against thirty-two shots, while Dunham blocked twenty-five of thirty-one shots. Shanahan is currently second in the league in both goals and points, and leads the league in penalty minutes.

The Red Wings will take a short road trip to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday before returning home for four more games.

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