Powerful Play

The Red Wings demonstrated tonight just why they are known for their depth, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 and improved their record to 8-1-0.

Control of the puck went back and forth between the two teams throughout the first period; however, the Red Wings outshot the Oilers badly, holding them to only two shots in the first twenty minutes.

Sergei Fedorov opened the scoring late in the first period. Edmonton’s Marty Reasoner received a penalty for high-sticking with 8:23 before the break. The power play unit kept control of the puck in the offensive zone, and Fedorov was able to pick up a blue line pass from Nicklas Lidstrom and rifle a shot past goalie Tommy Salo.

The Oilers got their first power play opportunity with just over a minute left to play in the first, when Kirk Maltby was given a penalty for roughing after the play. The Oilers couldn’t seem to get organized, and Yzerman and Brett Hull were able to get a breakaway scoring chance up the ice.

Detroit got another power play chance 4:31 into the second period when Jason Smith was penalized for roughing. This time, though, Edmonton’s penalty killers effectively shut down the power play’s passing.

The Red Wings’ next goal came on their very next power play. Smith was back in the box for roughing with 8:48 left in the period. Lidstrom passed the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who fired from the left point, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped the puck in underneath Salo.

Edmonton’s Anson Carter believed that he had scored on Dominek Hasek while Jiri Fischer was serving a holding penalty, but Carter stopped short and looked with disbelief into the empty net while Hasek calmly handed the puck back to the referee for the next faceoff.

The Oilers brought their number of shots up in the second, mainly due to a total of three penalties to Fischer throughout the period. Still, they remained scoreless after two.

Detroit took back control of the game in the third period. Just two-and-a-half minutes in, Lidstrom got the puck to Igor Larionov on a three-on-one rush. Larionov passed to Luc Robitaille, who took the puck at the height of its bounce and flipped it past Salo.

The young “3-D Line” also managed to make their presence felt. Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from the Oilers at their own blue line, and passed over to Mathieu Dandenault. Dandenault lured both the defense and the goalie towards him, then passed back to Boyd Devereaux, who slid the puck into the wide open net.

Edmonton decided at that point to pull Salo from the net and send in rookie Ty Conklin to take his place. With barely ten minutes left to play, it did not provide enough momentum to help the Oilers come back, but it apparently inspired them to take away Hasek’s first potential shutout as a Red Wing. With just 5:15 left in the game, Sean Brown was able to get the puck past Detroit’s well-screened goalie.

Shanahan, Fedorov, Robitaille, and Yzerman all continued their scoring streaks. Shanahan is still the current scoring leader in the NHL. Hasek stopped 27 of 28 shots, Salo stopped 26 of 30, and Conklin stopped 7 of 7.

The Red Wings will finish their five-game homestand Friday night against the Dallas Stars.

Invading the Island

The Red Wings headed to Long Island last night to face former Wing netminder Chris Osgood in his new team’s home opener. The Islanders were looking to continue a banner four game unbeaten streak as the Wings were looking to add to their win Friday night against Buffalo.

Oleg Kvasha opened the scoring only thirty-six seconds into the game, scoring off the rebound from a shot by Alexei Yashin.

Claude Lapointe was penalized for boarding just over two minutes into the period and the ensuing power play did not disappoint. Steve Yzerman passed the puck to Sergei Fedorov, who blasted it past Osgood. Brendan Shanahan also received an assist on the goal, extending his scoring streak to five games, reaffirming his place as the NHL’s current top scorer.

The score remained tied for the rest of the first period, with the Islanders outshooting Detroit fourteen to seven.

Early in the second period, Darren McCarty and Oleg Kvasha accidentally knocked ankles. Kvasha was taken immediately to the dressing room, but did return later in the game. McCarty tried to shake off the pain back on the bench, but headed to the locker room shortly thereafter. It was later announced that McCarty’s injury was an ankle sprain.

With Igor Larionov off for slashing, Yashin scored on Legace. The goal stood up to review and the Islanders took a two to one lead.

Brett Hull scored the answering goal with only 3:04 left in the period. Lapointe was off for cross-checking Lidstrom. Hull got the puck from Chris Chelios and shot it into the net, past a rolling block attempt by Osgood.

Early in the third period, Yashin scored again, this time on a screened shot. The Wings were able to reply on a delayed penalty. With Legace on the bench, Yzerman picked up a rebound and stuffed it into the net.

Early in the third period, Yashin scored again, this time on a screened shot. The Wings were able to reply on a delayed penalty. With Legace on the bench, Yzerman picked up a rebound and stuffed it into the net.

With Legace on the bench for the extra attacker, Luc Robitaille came to the rescue. Lucky Luc slid the puck behind Osgood with only ten seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.

Both goaltenders made big stops in the overtime period but it was a save by Legace that led to the winning goal. Yzerman picked up Legace’s rebound and sent it to Draper. Draper and Hull had a breakaway and Yzerman trailed. Only one Islander was back to defend and Draper passed the puck to Hull, who sent it back to Yzerman. Yzerman did what he does best, and the puck soared over Osgood and into the net.

The win lifted the Wings’ record to 4-1-0-0 and dropped the Islanders’ to 4-0-0-1. Detroit is off until Tuesday, when they begin their longest homestand of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sharper Against the Sabres

Dominik Hasek‘s former teammates were unable to defeat his new teammates, “Lucky Luc’s” luck seems to be returning, and Nicklas Lidstrom became the Red Wings’ top scoring defenseman of all time, as the Wings gained a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Compared to recent games, this game had an amazing amount of flow to it. There were no stoppages in play until a full 3:26 into the first period, when icing was called against Buffalo. Slava Kozlov, given to the Sabres this summer in exchange for Hasek, nearly got the puck past the Red Wings’ goaltender, but Hasek was able to block the shot.

Seven minutes, thirty-six seconds into the game, Detroit’s Maxim Kuznetsov was penalized for interference, but the situation went to a 4-on-4 just over a minute later, when Buffalo’s Jason Woolley was handed a penalty for holding the stick. Detroit wound up with 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, because Rhett Warrener got called for tripping, but the power play unit was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

Detroit’s power play had another chance with 6:33 remaining in the first, when Warrener was penalized for holding rookie Pavel Datsyuk, but the power play was cut short when Brendan Shanahan was given a tripping penalty. Buffalo was not able to score on their resulting power play, but captain Stu Barnes did score exactly two seconds later, after a very patient play and pass from Miroslav Satan.

Many of the shots Detroit fired were blocked by Buffalo’s defense before they even got to goalie Martin Biron, who played backup to Hasek last year. Not that Biron was incapable of stopping shots- far from it! Kris Draper made a beautiful pass to Sergei Fedorov, who left the puck for Shanahan. Shanahan fired the puck hard, but Biron kept it out of the net.

Two minutes, fifty-seven seconds into the second period, Luc Robitaille passed the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom, received the puck back again, and let it fly past Biron, scoring his first goal as a Red Wing. Tomas Holmstrom also received an assist on that goal. Buffalo answered back just over a minute later, with Satan picking up a rebound to slide the puck past Hasek.

Holmstrom was penalized for cross-checking with 11:22 left in the period, but Detroit’s penalty-killing unit was more than adequate for the job: they kept the puck in Buffalo’s zone for over half of the penalty.

With 4:52 to go in the period, Fedorov carried the puck behind the net, eluding a hit by a Buffalo defenseman. He passed the puck to Shanahan, and this time, Biron was not able to stop the shot.

Frederick Olausson scored his first goal as a Red Wing and gave Detroit the lead with only 2:26 left before intermission, in a 4-on-4 situation resulting from penalties to Darren McCarty and Alexei Zhitnik. Detroit had 1:05 of a power play remaining after the 4-on-4 ended, but was unable to score, despite good chances by Brett Hull.

The third period was quiet until near its end. Buffalo attempted to bring Biron back to the bench to have the sixth skater out, but miscalculated and received a penalty for having too many men on the ice. They pulled Biron anyway, with 30 seconds left to go, but Lidstrom got the puck to Shanahan, and Shanahan was able to send it into the empty net with only 5 seconds before the end of the game. This gave Lidstrom a total of 571 career points, sending him past Reed Larson’s record as the Red Wings’ all-time top scoring defenseman.

The Red Wings looked more organized on both offense and defense than they had in their previous games. There can always be improvements, but things look like they’re starting to come together. Former Red Wing Doug Brown, joining UPN 50 regulars Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond in the broadcast booth, put it more succinctly: “That whole line’s gonna score 13,000 goals.”

First Loss of Season Close to Home

The Red Wings took a 4-2 loss to the Flames in their home season opener, despite goals from Kris Draper and Brendan Shanahan, ending the 19 regular season game home unbeaten streak carried over from last season.

The game story was one of penalties, fights, and stoppages in play. Calgary’s Marc Savard got the penalty parade off to its slow start just 1:49 into the game, being sent off for elbowing. The game took on a deceptive flow for a few minutes after that, with both teams taking shots, but neither able to score.

4:20 into the game, Jarome Iginla started a fight with Darren McCarty, after seeing McCarty attempt to hit Savard. Both combatants got 5 minute fighting penalties. Iginla also received a 2 minute instigator call and a 10 minute misconduct. And yet, Detroit’s power play was unable to score.

Kris Draper opened the scoring with 7:17 left in the period. He came off the bench, flew down the ice with all his typical speed, received a bouncing pass from Igor Larionov, and flipped it past goaltender Roman Turek.

The remainder of the period was relatively quiet. Calgary’s Rob Niedermayer received an interference penalty with 5:49 remaining, and Maxim Kuznetsov was called for high sticking with 3:05 remaining, but neither power play unit was able to score.

The second period began with a deceptive calm. 6:11 into the play, Brendan Shanahan and Bob Boughner fought over a rough hit Boughner had landed on Shanahan. Both were sent to the box for five minutes.

With 11:44 left in the period, Mathieu Dandenault was called for elbowing. Detroit’s problems were compounded just 22 seconds later, when Steve Yzerman was given a penalty for high-sticking. The Flames’ Dean McAmmond was able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 opportunity, getting the puck past Dominek Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Calgary got another 5-on-3 opportunity just moments later. With 6:29 left in the period, Kuznetsov was called for cross-checking. Yzerman made a beautiful breakaway attempt in the short-lived 5-on-4 situation, but Turek was able to deflect the puck. Brett Hull received a tripping penalty at 5:56, and Calgary’s Scott Nichol was able to score on Hasek.

Darren McCarty, just back from a shoulder injury, elbowed Ron Petrovicky, most likely because Petrovicky had speared the back of his leg with the stick. The referees didn’t see that part, however, and McCarty was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct, and sent off to the locker room. The resulting Calgary power play was partially cancelled when Craig Conroy took a 2 minute hooking penalty.

The Flames were able to score an even strength goal 3:50 into the third period, with Igor Kravchuk picking up the rebound and sneaking it in behind Hasek, despite Frederick Olausson’s attempt to block the shot.

Kravchuk then took a cross-checking penalty 6:08 into the period, and Detroit’s power play unit kicked into action. Shanahan picked up the puck from where it had slipped away from Turek’s glove, waited for an opportunity, and fired it home.

The game could have changed for the Wings after that, but it was not to be. Shanahan was given a boarding penalty with 7:05 left in the game. Yzerman and Hull attempted to score short-handed, but Iginla picked up the puck and got it past Hasek on a rebound.

Shanahan now leads the NHL in goals, with 5 goals in 3 games. Hasek stopped 29 of 33 shots, most of which came when Detroit was in penalty-killing mode.

Would the game have gone in Detroit’s favor had the penalties not fallen so hard and so fast? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Even a team starring nine future Hall-of-Famers is still going to lose some of the games. Even the Red Wings have to be human once in awhile.