No Goal Drought In The Desert

The Red Wings got their two game road trip off to a good start, gaining a 5-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Detroit led 2-0 before the game was even two minutes old. Darren McCarty scored the first goal at 0:18 by taking a centering pass from Sean Avery and backhanding a shot low past goalie Brian Boucher. Avery had forced a turnover behind the Coyotes’ net, and McCarty was able to sneak up to the front of the net to be in the right place to take Avery’s pass.

Brendan Shanahan increased the lead at 1:37. A good poke check by Mathieu Dandenault forced Phoenix to turn the puck over to Sergei Fedorov in the neutral zone. Fedorov took off down the right wing, Shanahan keeping up on the left. Defenseman Danny Markov was unable to block the pass, and when it came across, Shanahan slapped it into the net past Boucher.

The Coyotes got themselves on the board at 3:11. Kelly Buchberger sent the puck out front from behind the net, and Andrei Nazarov was able to hit it so that it deflected just slightly on its way to the net, fooling Curtis Joseph for the goal.

After the three minutes of rapid goal scoring, the two teams settled down a little, both tightening up and looking for opportunities.

An obstruction hooking call to Ladislav Nagy just at the end of the first period translated into a Detroit power play goal at the beginning of the second. Jason Woolley shot the puck hard from the blue line, and Tomas Holmstrom was in front of the net to tip it past Boucher.

Phoenix got back within one goal because of a holding-the-stick call to Chris Chelios. The penalty had just run out, but Chelios had not yet made it back to the play, when Tony Amonte put his team back in the game by tapping in a puck which had been pinballing off of Joseph and Jesse Wallin.

The Red Wings stole the momentum the Coyotes’ goal generated when only four-tenths of a second remained in the period. Kirk Maltby took a whack at the puck in front of the net, and it angled between the defenseman’s legs, then between Boucher’s legs.

Shane Doan beat Joseph with a high shot from up close with 6:36 remaining in the game, bringing the Coyotes again within one. Phoenix got their break of the game when only 1:44 remained. Brett Hull was given a high-sticking penalty and sent off the ice. The Coyotes pulled Boucher from the net when about half a minute remained, hoping for an advantage from the extra skater, but Joseph made a huge save and gave the puck to Nick Lidstrom. Lidstrom shot it down the ice and into the empty net to put the game away for the Red Wings.

The score certainly does not indicate it, but Phoenix outshot Detroit by a count of 30 to 23. The Red Wings will attempt to increase their shot totals and maintain their high shot percentage with a Friday night game against the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars.

Darren McCarty’s goal was his 250th career point and his 6th goal of the season. 26 games in, and he’s already passed his goal total for last season? Not bad…. The Red Wings confirmed today that Jiri Fischer underwent successful knee surgery, but he is expected to be out for the rest of the regular season. The team expects to have him back in time for the playoffs.

A Howler of a Game

The Red Wings extended their home unbeaten streak to eleven games and ended Phoenix’s road winning streak at two, skating to a 4-1 victory at the Joe.

The Red Wings started out well in the first period, outshooting the Coyotes eighteen to eleven. Detroit opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game. Sergei Fedorov eluded a Phoenix defenseman behind the net and made a centering pass to Kirk Maltby, all alone in front of the net. Maltby lifted the puck into the left side of the net, just beneath the catching glove of Robert Esche.

The Coyotes did even up the game before the end of the period. Shane Doan took a shot from the right side. Manny Legace blocked the shot, but was not able to cover up the puck before Landon Wilson got to it and flipped it into the net with 1:49 left to play.

Detroit came back just a minute later. Darren McCarty fired a hard shot from the right side, and the puck bounced off of Esche, off of Steve Yzerman‘s skate, and into the net.

The rest of the game belonged to the Red Wings. They played defensive hockey, not letting the Coyotes get many good scoring chances. Legace made the stops he had to make look easy, and the Red Wings’ defensemen took care of the rebounds.

Brendan Shanahan scored the insurance goal midway through the second period. Freddy Olausson carried the puck into the Coyotes’ zone, then left a drop pass for Yzerman. Yzerman fired towards the net. The shot was in mid-air going wide until Shanahan got his stick on it and tipped it past a very surprised Esche.

Instead of loosening up in the third period, as has so often been a concern this season, Detroit continued to dominate the game, controlling the puck and taking no chances that Phoenix might get a quality shot on net.

Igor Larionov put the game away with 8:40 left to play, during a holding penalty to Todd Simpson. The Coyotes cleared the puck, and Lidstrom went back to get it from Legace. The Red Wings cycled the puck back across the blue line, and Lidstrom left it for Larionov. Larionov carried the puck right between two Phoenix defensemen, faked as if shooting low and to the left, then put the puck in the net high and to the right. Lidstrom scored his 600th career point with the assist.

Esche blocked thirty-one of thirty-five shots against him. Legace stopped twenty-eight of twenty-nine, for his ninth win out of the eleven games he has played this season.

The Red Wings leave town for a three-game road trip beginning tomorrow night against the St. Louis Blues.