The Red Wings did their best to overcome a slow start on Monday night, but the Montreal Canadiens held on to keep the 2-1 lead.
Dominik Hasek had plenty of work to keep him busy in the first period. The Canadiens started the game with plenty of offensive fire, and the Red Wings struggled to keep up. Hasek, on the other hand, was superb, keeping his team in the game until they could find their skating legs and take a little bit of control back from Montreal.
The opening twenty minutes was fast paced for both teams, but no one got on the scoreboard until the second period. Detroit made an error on a line change, which let Jason Ward and Steve Begin get into the zone all alone against Hasek. Jason Williams did his best to catch up and try to get in between the two skaters, but Ward got the pass through to Begin, and Begin slid the puck past Hasek’s left side.
Another defensive error by the Red Wings allowed the Canadiens to increase their lead to two. Stephane Quintal poke checked the puck away from Brendan Shanahan at the Montreal blue line. The Red Wings had four players on the offensive rush, so only Jason Woolley was back to play defense. Mike Ribeiro and Richard Zednik brought the puck into Detroit’s zone. Woolley tried to take the pass away so that Hasek would only have to worry about stopping Ribeiro, but the puck jumped over Woolley’s stick and Zednik was able to knock it into the net.
Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Red Wings when Chris Chelios was given a roughing penalty just one minute after Zednik scored. Detroit managed to shift the momentum in their favor, however, with a shorthanded goal. Jiri Fischer intercepted the puck in his own zone. He carried it up ice with Henrik Zetterberg on his right and Mathieu Dandenault trailing. Two Canadiens were in front of them. Fischer passed to Zetterberg as they entered the Montreal zone. Zetterberg carried into the right corner, then centered the puck for Dandenault. Goalie Mathieu Garon was screened by his own defender and couldn’t see Dandenault’s shot until the puck was in the net.
The shorthanded goal turned the game’s momentum in favor of the Red Wings. Detroit controlled the play through the end of the second and into the third period, but Garon had a strong night. The young netminder stopped a number of quality scoring chances, including a pair of shots by Brett Hull and a hard point shot by Shanahan.
The Red Wings pulled Hasek from the net in the final minute to send in their extra attacker, but the Canadiens were able to clear the puck and keep the Wings from scoring.
The final count of shots on net was 19 to 15 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next game will be at home Wednesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Curtis Joseph will play a conditioning game with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night so that the Wings can get a better idea of how his surgically repaired ankle is rehabilitating. If all goes well, Joseph should make his season debut with the Red Wings within the next week or so.