Sticks were high in Anaheim: three times, the Mighty Ducks got away with cutting Red Wing players with high sticks unseen by the referees, even though a high stick which draws blood is supposed to be an automatic double minor. But the Red Wings’ shot percentage was also high, and Manny Legace‘s save percentage was high, and the Red Wings will come home with a 4-2 victory over the Ducks.
Brendan Shanahan scored his first goal of the season in the first minute of the game. Jason Williams passed the puck across the rink and across the blue line, and Shanahan got in after it. With two Anaheim defenders closing in, he wristed the shot, and the puck soared over the arm of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Most of the second half of the first period was spent with the Red Wings in penalty-killing mode. Even though the Ducks had over a full minute of 5-on-3 advantage with Darren McCarty and Nick Lidstrom both in the box, Mathieu Dandenault, Chris Chelios, and Sergei Fedorov kept Anaheim from setting up an effective scoring chance, and Manny Legace stopped any shots which made it through.
Legace came up huge for his team early in the second period as well. Peter Sykora got through on a breakaway while the Ducks were shorthanded, but Legace gloved the high shot, leaving Sykora shaking his head in confusion.
Again, the second period was full of penalties. The Wings were able to capitalize on a hooking call to their former teammate Freddy Olausson with just over a minute left in the period. Luc Robitaille passed the puck from the blue line to Chelios on the left wing side, then Chelios dropped the puck back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom one-timed the shot, and Giguere had little chance to see it, screened as he was by Robitaille and one of his own defenders.
Thirty seconds later came a strange goal, a rare “gift” goal. Shanahan was going to be sent to the penalty box on a delayed call, and Giguere had left the net so the sixth skater could come in. Anaheim was applying pressure in the Detroit zone. Adam Oates turned with the puck near the side of the net to pass it back to a teammate at the blue line.
The teammate was not there. The puck slid down, down, all the way down the length of the rink and directly into the empty net. Shanahan, being the last Red Wing to touch the puck before Oates, was given credit for the goal before being sent away to the box. Paul Kariya put the Ducks on the board during the resulting power play when the puck bounced from a skate to his stick while he was waiting in front of the net.
The third period settled down for both teams. Ruslan Salei did bring Anaheim back within one goal by one-timing a shot up the center while his teammates screened Legace, but Henrik Zetterberg‘s first NHL goal ensured a Detroit victory. The goal came on the power play. Chris Chelios fired a hard shot from the right point. The rebound bounced back out on the left where Zetterberg waited. He one-timed the bouncing puck into the net before Giguere could slide back across.
The Ducks pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining, but the Red Wings kept control, and kept the shots away from Legace. Final shot totals were thirty-two to thirty in favor of Detroit.
The Red Wings play next in their home opener on Thursday night, when they will raise the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before hosting the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six matchup.