Wings Closer to Locking Up the Central

The Red Wings staved off a third period comeback attempt by the St. Louis Blues to gain two points more on their Central Division rivals with a 3-2 win.

The Red Wings opened the scoring on their very first power play of the game. Scott Mellanby was sent out for holding the stick. Pavel Datsyuk pulled the puck out of a tangle of players and centered it. Henrik Zetterberg came up through the high slot and got a shot away, then put his own rebound off the goalpost. He caught it with his skate and dragged it back out to the side of the net before banking the puck off of Alexander Khavanov, then off Chris Osgood, and into the net.

Darren McCarty and Reed Low got into a fight at center ice off the very next faceoff. McCarty wound up dragging Low to the ice, and his teammates showed their appreciation.

The Blues relaxed as the period ran down. They had just been on a power play. They hadn’t capitalized, but thought they had enough control over the game to keep any damage from occurring in the final few seconds. Unfortunately for them, Sergei Fedorov got the puck away and headed up ice on a two-on-one rush with Mathieu Schneider. Fedorov sent the pass across, and Schneider’s shot crossed the goal line with exactly one-tenth of a second remaining before the buzzer sounded.

The Blues came out hard to start the second period, hoping to undo the damage they had done in the first, but Detroit shut them down completely. Of the seven shots the Red Wings allowed in the second period, none could be considered a quality scoring chance, and Curtis Joseph had an easy enough time with each of them. Fedorov had a breakaway chance to get the Wings up by three, but Osgood robbed him of the goal with a quick pad save.

St. Louis ruined Joseph’s shutout bid and put themselves back in the game with a power play goal early in the third period. Datsyuk had been giving a roughing penalty just at the end of the second period. The power play was almost over before Al MacInnis got enough time to unleash his powerful slapshot from the blue line. Doug Weight picked up the rebound and stuffed it into the net.

A fumbled play at center let the Blues get the equalizing goal. A back pass failed to reach its intended recipient, and Eric Boguniecki picked it up instead. He and Corey Stillman headed up on a two-on-one rush against Mathieu Dandenault. Boguniecki looked the whole time as if he would pass, but instead took the shot without looking. Joseph was screened by Dandenault and had no chance to see the puck until it was too late.

The Red Wings didn’t panic, took their time, and took back control of the game. A power play with Mellanby back in the box helped, as did the successful penalty kill when that power play was shortened after Fedorov was sent out for tripping. With 8:32 left to play, Nicklas Lidstrom made his move””he moved in from the blue line to the right faceoff circle, which put him in the perfect position to get the pass from Igor Larionov behind the net and place a well-aimed wrist shot past Osgood.

The Blues pulled Osgood out of net for the extra skater in the final minute of play, but Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman foiled their plans to tie the game. Shanahan created a turnover at the Detroit blue line and got the puck to center. Yzerman picked it up and scored his first goal of his return into the empty net.

The final count of shots on net was 30-26 in favor of St. Louis. Detroit went 1 for 3 on the power play and held the Blues to 1 for 6. The Red Wings’ next game will be in Minnesota on Sunday night, the first of a home-and home series with the Wild.

Wings cling to Western Conference lead heading into St. Louis

The St. Louis Blues will be welcoming the Detroit Red Wings to the Savvis Center with open arms on Saturday, as it will be one of their last chances to gain some ground on the current central division powerhouse. The Blues trail Detroit by 5 points in the standings, and currently sit fourth among all teams in the Western Conference. For St. Louis, there is no more time to waste if they wish to make a bid for the top spot in the conference.

Led by the former Red Wing netminder Chris Osgood, the Blues come into the battle winners of their last 3 games. After having goalie issues throughout much of the year, the Blues are hoping to find the answer in Ozzie. Osgood has won every game he has played in a Blues uniform, most recently stopping 24 of 26 shots against Anaheim to lead St. Louis to a 3-2 overtime victory. Pavol Demitra lit the lamp twice to earn his 31st and 32nd goals of the season in the win over the Ducks.

It looked as if the Red Wings may have been in for an upset in the early moments of their game against the Penguins. But unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they soon woke up to score 5 unanswered goals as they improved their season mark to 43-18-9-3. Detroit’s leading point-getter Sergie Federov registered two of those five goals. The Red Wings will be venturing to cling to the top rung of the Western Conference ladder for the remainder of the season, as they are in pursuit of having home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. It will be no easy task with teams such as Vancouver, Dallas, and St. Louis continually posing a threat the Detroit’s supremacy.

The Blues haven’t been able to find a way to win against Detroit so far this season. They hope to be handed a better fate this time around, as they fell to the Red Wings by an embarrassing 7-2 score in their last meeting.

-Player To Watch-
St. Louis- #30 G Chris Osgood- Osgood is sure to be fired up for the opportunity to defeat his former mates. Earlier this season, Osgood held Detroit to only two goals to give the Islanders a tie against the Red Wings.

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov- Has notched a respective 7 points against the Blues this year, and is coming into the contest on a roll.

-Out or in Doubt-
St. Louis- Chris Pronger D (Knee/Out), Jamal Mayers RW (Knee/Out), Keith Tkachuk LW (Wrist /Out), Rich Pilon D (Wrist/Out), Valeri Bure LW (Knee/Out)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out), Jesse Wallin D (Knee/Questionable)

-Between da Pipes-
St. Louis- #30 Chris Osgood (20-14-4, 2.84 GAA, .897 SV%, 3 SO), #35 Brent Johnson (15-11-5, 2.44 GAA, .900 SV%, 2 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (30-17-6, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%, 3 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-4-3, 2.01 GAA, .932 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
St. Louis #5 Barret Jackman with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov with 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) vs. St. Louis

The game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.