Not Their Nicest Win

The Red Wings played a lackluster game overall Thursday night, but star moments from Nick Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, and Sergei Fedorov, as well as a good, solid debut for Jiri Slegr, were enough to carry them over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2.

The game began on a somber note, with a moment of silent remembrance for Brittanie Cecil, the little girl killed by an injury from a deflected puck at the Blue Jackets’ game against Edmonton on Saturday night.

Columbus played a clumsy game in the first period, making several mistakes in attempting to clear the puck from their zone. Even though the Red Wings were able to set up a few scoring chances from the Blue Jackets’ errors, they were unable to put the puck past goaltender Marc Denis.

The Blue Jackets came on harder and the Red Wings eased off in the second period. Columbus opened the scoring just over two minutes in. David Vyborny put an unremarkable shot towards the net, but it slipped past the Red Wings’ defensemen and Ray Whitney managed to redirect it just enough to put it into the net past Dominik Hasek.

Kirk Maltby evened up the game a few minutes later. Nick Lidstrom passed the puck to Maltby, who flew up the right wing side and threw a hard shot towards the net. Igor Larionov was skating towards the net looking to pick up the rebound, but it proved to be unnecessary, as Maltby’s shot bounced off Denis’s blocker and in for the goal.

Columbus regained the lead midway through the period, managing to score against an uninspired Red Wings power play. Espen Knutsen intercepted a pass and took off down the ice, then passed across to Jaroslav Spacek coming up the left wing side. Spacek brought the puck in close to the net, then backhanded a shot over the top of Hasek.

The Red Wings tried to kick up the offense in the third period, but seemed to have to kill off a penalty just as the game’s momentum would be starting to favor them. Sergei Fedorov finally tied the game with less than five minutes remaining. Lidstrom passed neatly to Brendan Shanahan, who fired towards the net, but the puck angled off a Columbus player’s skate and directly to Fedorov, waiting with a hard one-time shot. Denis was being screened by Darren McCarty, and did not see that the puck had angled across to Fedorov, so was completely out of position for the shot.

Just as Fedorov, Shanahan, and Lidstrom sent the game to overtime, they also brought the overtime to a speedy conclusion. Only twenty-five seconds in, Fedorov grabbed up a rebound from Shanahan’s shot, set up by Lidstrom, and skated it quickly around the back of the net, then stuffed it in before Denis could quite realize where the puck had gone.

Shots on goal were twenty-two to twenty-one in the Blue Jackets’ favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver, facing down their archrivals, the Colorado Avalanche.

Trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr, after being a “”21 in the plus/minus rating with Atlanta, was rated a +2 in his first game with his new team…… The Columbus players will wear Brittanie Cecil’s initials on their helmets for the rest of the season. Visiting teams to Nationwide Arena will do likewise, so as to honor the little girl and her family.

Leaving Home For Awhile

Goals by Brett Hull and Chris Chelios, along with a strong goaltending effort by Manny Legace, were not enough to inspire the Red Wings in their last home game before March 6, and the Columbus Blue Jackets got their first-ever victory at Joe Louis Arena, 3-2.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring four minutes into the game. Jiri Fischer was not able to get the puck out of Detroit’s zone, and Ray Whitney was able to grab it up and fire on the net from the left side of the ice. The puck deflected off the skate of Chris Chelios and past Manny Legace for the goal.

Detroit came back with some offensive pressure after this, and the “Two Young Kids and an Old Goat Line,” as Brett Hull refers to himself and linemates Boyd Devereaux and Pavel Datsyuk, was especially hard for Columbus to handle. The pressure finally paid off for the Red Wings with just over seven minutes left in the first. Datsyuk got past the Blue Jackets’ defensemen to carry the puck around the net, then sent a sharp pass right across the goal crease to Brett Hull, who had his stick on the ice in perfect position to direct the puck into the net past goaltender Marc Denis.

Columbus controlled the play for most of the second period, causing Legace to make some big saves to keep the score tied. In spite of Legace’s efforts, the Blue Jackets regained the lead midway through the period, just as a tripping penalty to Steve Duchesne expired. Deron Quint took a shot from the right side, using one of his own teammates as a screen. The puck hit Legace and rolled off his chest, barely crossing the goalline before he could get his glove over it.

Chelios brought the Red Wings back to an even score a few minutes later. Kirk Maltby fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the rebound came to Chelios at the right point. The rising shot barely missed bouncing off Darren McCarty, screening Denis, and the puck went into the top corner of the net.

The Blue Jackets scored again only nineteen seconds into the third period, once again just as a penalty was expiring. David Vyborny shot the puck from the left side, and it went into the net over Legace’s shoulder.

Columbus tightened up to protect their fragile lead through the rest of the game. Detroit pulled Legace from the net for the sixth skater with just over a minute left to play, and they wound up having the last twenty-four seconds of the game as a six-on-four power play when Lyle Odelein was penalized for cross-checking, but Denis made a number of acrobatic saves and kept the puck out of the net.

Legace stopped twenty-two of twenty-five shots, while Denis stopped thirty-three of the thirty-five shots he faced. The Red Wings’ next game is Saturday night in Ottawa.

Steve Yzerman‘s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery is progressing as expected. Yzerman expects to play with the Red Wings next week at Montreal and Minnesota before going to Salt Lake City to play for Team Canada in the Olympics.

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