Fire Extinguishers

The Red Wings stuck to their game plan and played a tight third period defense, and Kirk Maltby scored the game winning goal in his 500th career game, to lead the Wings over the Calgary Flames, 4-2.

The league’s two leading teams looked evenly matched throughout the first period. Play went from one end of the ice to the other, but neither side was able to generate a quality scoring chance until 11:34 into the game. Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff in Calgary’s zone. Boyd Devereaux took the puck behind the net and passed to Tomas Holmstrom, who one-timed the shot past goalie Roman Turek.

Calgary came right back only two minutes later. Dean McAmmond took a pass from Craig Conroy and sped up the right wing side, then fired hard and beat Dominik Hasek for the goal.

The Red Wings were not to be outdone. With 5:13 remaining in the first, Datsyuk passed the puck to Devereaux, who fired hard. Turek was able to block, but Brett Hull had outraced the Flames’ defensemen to be in just the right place to grab up the rebound and slam it into the net behind Turek.

Calgary’s Robyn Regehr re-tied the game with 3:20 left in the period. McAmmond carried the puck into the zone and led three Red Wings towards him before passing back to Regehr at the blue line at the last possible moment. Regehr fired a hard shot and put the puck past Hasek, who was being screened by big Jarome Iginla and never saw the shot at all.

The Red Wings played strong offensively in the second period, as has been their tendency throughout the season, taking a total of sixteen shots against Turek, contrasted with the Flames’ mere seven shots against Hasek. Maltby broke the tie 6:09 into the second by backhanding the rebound from Hull’s shot into the small space between Turek’s right shoulder and the goalpost.

Detroit had two power play chances in the second period, which overlapped for sixteen seconds of five-on-three play, but were unable to convert the opportunities into another goal, mainly because of a strong showing by Turek.

The Flames would give up one more goal before the period was over. Igor Larionov got a pass from Steve Duchesne and took off up the ice, with Luc Robitaille matching speed on the other side of the rink and only one Calgary defenseman back to cover. Robitaille slowed up just enough to take the cross-ice pass from Larionov and one-time it into the net.

The Flames would give up one more goal before the period was over. Igor Larionov got a pass from Steve Duchesne and took off up the ice, with Luc Robitaille matching speed on the other side of the rink and only one Calgary defenseman back to cover. Robitaille slowed up just enough to take the cross-ice pass from Larionov and one-time it into the net.

Hasek made nineteen saves on a total of twenty-one shots. Turek saved twenty-eight of thirty-two shots. Ironically, neither Jarome Iginla nor Brendan Shanahan, currently the NHL’s first and second place players in both goals and points, were able to score in this game.

Detroit will play again Friday night in the first game of a two night home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils.

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.