Shutout by Chicago

In spite of strong goaltending by Manny Legace, and a number of quality scoring chances, the puck just didn’t bounce in the Red Wings’ favor tonight. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, were ready to win, and managed to shut out the Red Wings by a score of 2-0.

Detroit had ample opportunity to score in the first period. They had three consecutive power plays in the first period, but Chicago shut them down, keeping their passes from getting through, blocking shots, and not letting anyone get in front of the net to screen goaltender Jocelyn Thibault.

Kris Draper had two good breakaway chances to score, but Thibault was sharp. At the other end of the rink, Legace held off several quality shots by the Blackhawks to end the period with no score for either team.

The Red Wings had to begin the second period on the penalty kill, with Chris Chelios serving the remainder of a holding penalty he had been assessed at the end of the first period. Just as Chelios was stepping back onto the ice, the Blackhawks scored their goal. Alexei Zhamnov flung the puck towards the net, and Steve Sullivan raced after it to redirect it past Legace for the goal.

The Red Wings tried to apply some offensive pressure to tie the game back up, but Thibault continued to be huge in the Chicago net. The Blackhawks’ defensemen blocked many shots as well, especially Jon Klemm, a former defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche, and Alexander Karpotsev, who blocked a hard shot by Brett Hull with his ankle and had to be helped off the ice and sent for x-rays.

The Red Wings continued to have their chances in the third period, but the scoring didn’t follow. Pavel Datsyuk made a notable play to steal the puck from three Blackhawks and center a pass for Sergei Fedorov, but Fedorov’s shot hit Thibault in the chest, and no rebound was let go.

The Blackhawks put the game away shortly afterwards, when Draper was sent to the penalty box for slashing. Again, the very second the power play was ending, Chicago was able to score. Legace stopped two wraparound scoring attempts by Sullivan and Steve Thomas, but Thomas took the puck back, then gave it to Andrei Nikolishin, who simply kept hitting it until it slipped under Legace’s pads and into the net.

The final shots on net were 23-18 in favor of Chicago. Both teams went 0 for 6 on the power play. The Red Wings’ next game will be Thursday night at home against another Original Six rival, the Boston Bruins.

Sean Avery was a healthy scratch for this game. Dmitri Bykov is still recovering from a shoulder injury, and Brendan Shanahan stayed out for personal reasons…. Jocelyn Thibault shut out the Red Wings the last time they were unable to score in a home game, as well. That was another 2-0 Blackhawks victory, on December 17, 2001.

A Hull of a Comeback

Brett Hull scored two goals for the Red Wings, helping them to overcome an early two-goal deficit and tie the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-2.

The game did not start well for the Red Wings, in spite of their strong defensive play in Saturday’s game against the Stars. The Coyotes were well-rested and enthusiastic, and it showed in their playing: they kept the Red Wings penned in their end of the rink for the greater part of the first period.

Phoenix opened the scoring just over six minutes into the game. Daniel Briere shot the puck from a tight angle on the right side, and it went between Manny Legace‘s arm and body on the far side of the net.

Briere scored again only seventeen seconds again. Daymond Langkow shot the puck on the net from point-blank range. Legace blocked the shot, but Briere grabbed up the rebound and swept it into the net.

Scotty Bowman did then the only thing which he can safely be predicted to do: he switched up the lines. It worked, after a fashion. The Red Wings started to play with more pressure, carrying the play into the Phoenix zone. It paid off for Brett Hull.

Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman tangled with a pair of Phoenix defenseman in the corner, and got the puck out front to Hull, who was all alone with goalie Robert Esche. Hull stared at the top of the net, Esche moved up to block, and Hull slid the puck between the goalie’s legs. “Sometimes those are the hardest shots, because you start thinking about it!” Hull laughed later.

Detroit continued their steady offensive pressure throughout the second period, but neither team scored again before the intermission. The Red Wings got two power play opportunities and a four-on-four situation that looked as if it could have been a power play. Their passing and puck control were strong, but Esche was able to stop all ten of the shots he faced in the period.

The third period continued in much the same fashion until its end, when Hull rose to the occasion once again. Mathieu Dandenault fired a hard shot from the blue line, and Hull was in just the right place in front of the net to tip it past Esche, sending the game to overtime.

Play went end to end in the overtime period. Legace made a great save to deny Briere his hat trick, and the game ended in a tie.

Shots on net were thirty-one to twenty-nine in the Red Wings’ favor. Neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings will travel next to Dallas to play against the Stars on Wednesday night.