Wings Make it Two in a Row

Manny Legace made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season, Steve Thomas had two goals and an assist, and Kris Draper scored his 10th goal of the season to help the Red Wings gain a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders.

Pavel Datsyuk set up Thomas’s first goal of the evening. Jiri Fischer dumped the puck into the Islander’s zone. Datsyuk picked it up as it bounced off the end boards and centered it to Thomas. Islanders goalie Garth Snow was completely focused on Datsyuk, and Thomas was able to flip the puck into a nearly empty net.

Thomas scored his second late in the period by taking advantage of a turnover by the Islanders. He intercepted a clearing pass by Oleg Kvasha and zinged a quick shot past Snow.

Brendan Shanahan scored a power play goal early in the second period with Janne Niinimaa in the box for high-sticking. Steve Yzerman got the puck out from the left boards to Kris Draper, and Draper made a careful pass across the goal crease to Shanahan, who flipped it into the net.

Datsyuk added a goal a few minutes later. Thomas took a shot which Snow stopped. Chris Chelios kicked at it in the goal crease, and Datsyuk scooped up the puck and put it high into the net.

The Islanders tried applying sporadic offensive pressure early in the third, getting their best two scoring chances of the game. Legace had to be sharp to stop Jason Blake‘s shot from right in front of the net and Marius Czerkawski’s attempt from the left side a few minutes later.

Draper’s goal came midway through the third, when he took a pass from Kirk Maltby, got into the New York zone all alone and slid the puck beneath Snow. Brett Hull finished off the game by scoring from Datsyuk with just 2:11 left to play.

New York outshot Detroit by a count of 30 to 27. The Red Wings’ next game will be tomorrow night when they face the Blues in St. Louis.

This was Thomas’s 1200th career game… Shanahan’s goal was the 541st of his career, tying him with Stan Mikita for 20th on the all-time goal scorers list… Tomas Holmstrom could be out for up to a month with a separated shoulder. Nathan Robinson came up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to fill the hole in the lineup.

Never Satisfied: Wings on Quest to Earn President’s Trophy

After coming out of New York with a huge point against the Rangers, the New York Islanders hope to take steps in securing their playoff spot Thursday night in Detroit. The Islanders need to amass only three points in their final three games to knock the Rangers out for good. They take on a Red Wings team that is also hungry for points as the season winds down. Already conquering the Central Division, Detroit needs only to win their remaining three games to win the West. Doing so would also put them into contention for their second straight President’s Trophy.

On Monday night, Curtis Joseph posted his 5th shutout of the season as the Red Wings beat up on a shaky Predators team, winning 3-0. The victory was Detroit’s 20th in the past 24 games. The Red Wings have locked up first place in the Central Division, but surprisingly are still unsatisfied with their positioning heading into the playoffs.

”We’ve been climbing the ladder the last month or so. We wanted to finish first overall. That’s still our goal.”- Detroit Goaltender Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings learned of some great news recently, as coach Dave Lewis announced that we should see Defenseman Jiri Fischer slip back into the line-up very soon. Lewis sighted Saturday’s game against Columbus or Sunday’s game against Chicago as the probable return dates. Lewis also went on to say that Fischer would not be playing in Thursday’s contest against the Islanders. Fischer went down with a knee injury early in the season in a game against the Bruins

The Islanders blew a two-goal lead in the third period against the Rangers, yet were still able to salvage an important tie. With three games left on their schedule, the Isles won’t be looking to pass up any more opportunities to solidify their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Thursday’s game against the Red Wings will provide the opportunity for the Islanders to get two more points out of the way. If they are able to accomplish just that, they will only need a tie or an overtime loss against either the Thrashers or the Hurricanes to remain in the 8th and final slot.

-Players to Watch-
New York (I): #44 Janne Niinimaa (5 goals, 27 assists)- Solid defenseman who will be looked upon to contain some of the top offensive talent in the league in Detroit.

Detroit: #20 Luc Robitaille (9 goals, 20 assists)- Scored a big goal against the Islanders this season. Maybe “Lucky” Luc will have something up his sleeve during Thursday night’s game as well.

-Out or in Doubt-
New York (I): Kevin Haller D (Groin/Out)

Detroit: Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Season Series-
Game 1:December 17, 2002- Tie 2-2

-Between da Pipes-
New York (I): #30 Garth Snow (15-16-5, 2.33 GAA, .917 GAA, 1 SO), #39 Rick DiPietro (2-4-2, 2.74 GAA, .902 SV%, 0 SO)

Detroit: #31 Curtis Joseph (33-18-6, 2.47 GAA, .913 SV%, 5 SO), #34 Manny Legace (14-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
New York (I): Six players tied with 1 point vs. Detroit

Detroit: Six players tied with 1 point vs. New York (I)

The game will be televised nationally at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.

NHL Rosters Jumbled as Trade Deadline Passes

As the NHL’s trade deadline came and went at 3:00 PM (US Eastern) on Tuesday, teams scrambled to shore up their rosters for a playoff push or deal away high-priced contracts in favor of rebuilding.

In all, twenty-five of the NHL’s thirty teams made a trade on Tuesday. All thirty teams made deals in the two days before the deadline.

Some of the big-name players traded on Monday and Tuesday include Sergei Berezin, Janne Niinimaa, Brad Isbister, Anson Carter and Valeri Bure.

Berezin was sent from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Washington Capitals for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Niinimaa and Isbister were traded for each other in a multi-player deal. The New York Islanders send a package of Isbister and prospect Raffe Torres to the Edmonton Oilers for Niinimaa and two draft picks.

The Oilers also dealt Anson Carter, sending him and Ales Pisa to the New York Rangers for Radek Dvorak and Cory Cross.

Bure was sent to the St. Louis Blues, who traded Mike Van Ryn to Florida for him.

With rosters now set for the remainder of the season, the top teams in the league will make their playoff push.

Trading will not reopen until the end of the playoffs.

First Overtime Loss of Season

The lesson to be learned from tonight’s game is that even if you go in and score four perfectly beautiful goals, the other team can score five dirty ugly goals and come up with an overtime win. So it went for the Red Wings, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of their home-and-home series.

The Red Wings scored the only goal of the first period, despite being outshot 11-7 by the Oilers. The puck bounced away from an Edmonton defenseman and straight to the stick of Luc Robitaille, who took off down the right side. Boyd Devereaux kept up on the left, and Robitaille fooled both the defenseman and goaltender Jussi Markkanen by looking as if to pass before putting the shot through Markkanen’s five-hole, achieving his 1300th career point.

The Oilers came back to take the lead within 27 seconds in the second period. First, Steve Staios caught the puck as it was rolling out towards the Detroit blue line. He snapped a hard wrist shot which seemed to change direction in midair before it dipped past Manny Legace for the goal. On the very next shift, Legace stopped a shot by Ryan Smyth, but the rebound came free to Anson Carter. Carter wrapped the puck around the net and banked it in off Legace’s skate before the goalie could close the gap between his foot and the goalpost.

Jason Woolley brought the score back to a tie with his first goal as a Red Wing. Brett Hull made a centering pass from behind the net. Woolley was left unguarded in the slot and let fly a hard shot which got past Markkanen.

Smyth retook the lead for the Oilers early in the third period. Robitaille had been sent to the box for high-sticking, Smyth was left to get to the side of the goal crease, where he waited with his stick blade on the ice. When Mike York sent the pass up from the right point, all Smyth had to do was tap it into the net.

Sergei Fedorov tied the game back up with his 13th of the season. He carried the puck up center and shot it from the blue line. Eric Brewer tried to get his stick in the way of the shot, but instead it deflected the puck just enough to fool Markkanen.

The Oilers took a 4-3 lead on a strange goal which was eventually credited to Janne Niinimaa. The puck seemed to escape from someone’s stick, pinball off of a few skates, and roll into the net past Legace’s outstretched catching glove.

Brendan Shanahan caught the Wings back up less than a minute later. He carried the puck up the right side, on a 2-on-1 rush with Tomas Holmstrom. Shanahan fired a hard, perfectly placed wrist shot which sailed past Markkanen to score the goal and swing the momentum back in Detroit’s favor.

The end of the third period was a huge amount of Detroit pressure in the Edmonton zone. Markkanen proved to be up to the challenge, however, and his team was rewarded a minute and a half into the overtime. Jason Smith was able to get to the front of the net and whack at the puck. Legace stopped the first three shots, but the fourth one was a backhander which chipped up high and in.

Final shots on net were 35-34 in Edmonton’s favor. The Red Wings play their next game at home on Wednesday night, when they host the New Jersey Devils.

Since this was Game # 21, and we are now about a quarter of the way through the season, it might be interesting to look and see how the League standings would look if the playoffs were to start today. In the East, #1 Boston (30 points) would play #8 New Jersey (23 points). #2 Tampa Bay (27 points) would play #7 Pittsburgh (24 points). #3 Philadelphia (26 points) would play the #6 New York Rangers (24 points). #4 Carolina (25 points) would play #5 Ottawa (24 points). In the West, #1 Dallas (33 points) would play #8 Anaheim (23 points). #2 Minnesota (30 points) would play #7 Los Angeles (24 points). #3 Detroit (26 points) would play…. get this…. #6 Colorado (25 points)! (What kind of first round is THAT????) And #4 Vancouver (28 points) would play #5 St. Louis (25 points). Hmm…. maybe it’s best that three-fourths of a season are still left to go.

Better Effort Earns A Tie

The Red Wings regrouped quickly after last night’s loss to the Canucks. They outplayed the Edmonton Oilers for much of tonight’s game, but excellent goaltending caused the game to end up as a 1-1 tie.

Dave Lewis thought to shake up the team slightly by putting in feisty Sean Avery in place of Jason Williams, and, of course, by changing the forward line combinations. It worked nicely. The Red Wings skated better, passed better, and created more scoring chances, causing goalie Tommy Salo to have to work hard and scramble to keep the puck out of the net. At the other end of the ice, Curtis Joseph seemed to have shaken off last night’s loss without a problem, making several dazzling saves to keep the Oilers off the board.

Another benefit for both Detroit and Edmonton was the relative lack of penalties. Detroit was able to rotate its full complement of players on and off the ice without having to overwork some and leave others sitting on the bench for long penalty-killing shifts. The Oilers’ strong, quick skaters used the flow of the game to their advantage, and the result was an entertaining game.

The Red Wings finally opened the scoring late in the second period. Sergei Fedorov banked the puck off the boards to clear it from the Detroit zone, springing Brett Hull and Igor Larionov loose on a 2-on-1 rush. Hull carried the puck up the left side and fired a wrist shot which bounced off the goal post and into the net behind Salo.

The Oilers countered with only four seconds remaining in the second period. Joseph stopped a low shot by Janne Niinimaa with the tip of his catching glove, but the puck slid free. Todd Marchant and Shawn Horcoff had both followed the play to the front of the net. It was hard to tell at first which of those two tapped the puck in for the goal, but replay showed that it was Marchant.

Both teams continued to play well and create scoring chances in the third period and the overtime, but the goaltenders were determined not to allow any more goals, thus ending the game in a 1-1 tie.

The final shots on net were 37-27 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings and Oilers will play the second game of their home-and-home series Monday night at the Joe.

Nicklas Lidstrom led the team in ice time as usual, putting in an impressive 32:37. Sergei Fedorov led the forwards, with 28:13. The Grind Line was rewarded with more ice time for their recent quality play. Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty each played more than 15 minutes, and Kris Draper, who gets extra time because of his penalty-killing role, played over 18 minutes…. Brendan Shanahan became the father of twins, a boy and a girl, this afternoon. The mother and babies are reported to be doing well.

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