Wings Close Out 2005 with Win over Jackets

In their final game of the 2005 calendar year, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2.

The game was Detroit’s 60th in franchise history on New Year’s Eve and the win gave them an overall record of 31-21-8 in those games. They have won their last five games on December 31.

The Red Wings were behind early, when Columbus got goals from Rick Nash and Jason Chimera to open the scoring.

At 9:27 of the first period as the teams skated 4-on-4, former Red Wing Jamie Pushor fired a shot from the point that Nash tipped in the slot, getting it past Detroit netminder Chris Osgood.

Just 36 seconds into the second period, the Blue Jackets struck again when Chimera skated around defenseman Brett Lebda at the Detroit blueline and outwaited a sprawling Osgood to put the puck behind him.

Long-time Red Wing Sergei Fedorov sent Johan Franzen crashing into Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire at 1:51 of the second, knocking Leclaire out of the game and putting Fedorov in the penalty box.

On the ensuing power play, 1:16 later, Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that found its way into the net behind Marc Denis to put Detroit on the board.

Mathieu Schneider tied the game 4:50 later, firing a shot from the high slot that deflected off a diving Fedorov and past Denis.

The Red Wings gained the lead with 53 seconds left in the period when Mikael Samuelsson scored. Robert Lang threw the puck on net from the right circle and Denis kicked it back to that side of the net while moving to the far post. Samuelsson jumped from behind the net to knock the puck into the open goal.

Lidstrom scored his second of the night at 4:19 of the third period. When the puck bounced off the left wing boards and came into an empty left circle, Lidstrom jumped up from the point and rifled a shot into the net.

With 5:34 remaining, Samuelsson’s second goal of the game closed the scoring. He had the puck all alone at the side of the crease and lifted a shot over Denis’ shoulder for a power play goal.

Osgood ended up facing only 15 shots on the night, stopping 13 of them. Leclaire stopped all 13 shots he faced while Denis made 25 saves on 30 shots.

Detroit went two-for-six on the power play and held Columbus without a goal on five chances with the extra skater.

The Red Wings will host the Minnesota Wild in their first game of the 2006 calendar year on Tuesday.

Goalie Manny Legace returned to the Red Wings’ roster after a one-game rehab stint in Grand Rapids on Friday. He backed up Chris Osgood.

Manny Saves the Day

In a showing that even superstar goalie Dominek Hasek would have been proud of, Manny Legace blocked thirty-eight shots for his first solo shutout of the year, to give the Red Wings an overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 1-0.

Legace had his work cut out for him to keep the play scoreless. Five and a half minutes into the game, Mathieu Dandenault was sent to the box for boarding, leaving the Wings shorthanded. The Red Wings have the league’s best penalty-killing in road games, but their job became one person more difficult when Chris Chelios was given a two minute penalty for slashing, two more minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and a ten minute game misconduct.

The penalties to Chelios, served by Pavel Datsyuk, gave the Blue Jackets one minute and nine seconds of five-on-three power play time, followed by two minutes and fifty-one seconds of a regular five-on-four power play chance. Even so, Columbus was unable to score, mainly because of Legace’s amazing saves.

Legace wasn’t entirely alone in blocking the net. At one point, as he had dropped to one side of the net to block a shot, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was able to get in and coevr the other side of the net to stop the rebound shot.

Columbus got another power play chance 8:40 into the second period. This one was only a five-on-four, but it was five minutes long. Brett Hull was given a major penalty for elbowing Tyler Wright. Hull also took a game misconduct because his elbow knocked one of Wright’s teeth out of his mouth and up into the air. Again, Columbus was unable to convert the chance into a goal. The Red Wings’ penalty killing unit stayed in a tight box formation in front of the net, and Legace stopped anything which managed to get through to him.

By the end of the second period, shots on net were 34-19 in the Blue Jackets’ favor.

The Red Wings played tighter defense in the third period, holding Columbus to only four shots against Legace, but were unable to generate any quality scoring chances of their own. They did get two power play opportunities in the third, first on a holding call against Jamie Pushor, and then on an interference penalty to Blake Sloan, but both times, the power play was disorganized and broken up by the Blue Jackets’ penalty killers.

Detroit didn’t get a real break until there was only 2:01 left in overtime. Mattias Timander was sent to the penalty box for slashing, giving the Red Wings a four-on-three situation. Finally, Igor Larionov took the puck in the Columbus zone and passed it back to Lidstrom at the blue line. Lidstrom sent the pass up to Luc Robitaille at the right-hand faceoff circle, and Robitaille sent the puck flying with only forty-three seconds left. The shot handcuffed goalie Ron Tugnutt, who was helpless to stop the puck from sailing into the net.

Tugnutt stopped thirty-two shots over the course of the game. Legace extended his unbeaten streak to eighteen games. He has a record of 6-0-0 for this season.

The Red Wings increased their league-leading record to 19-3-0-1. Their next game is Friday night, when they host the St. Louis Blues.

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