Four-goal Second Period Leads Red Wings over Blues

The Detroit Red Wings scored four times in the second period Saturday afternoon, carrying them to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Three of the goals came in a 46 second span.

Pavel Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board 4:40 into the second period. Datsyuk took a long outlet pass from Brad Stuart to break into the St. Louis zone on the right wing before cutting to the slot and putting a shot past Blues goalie Chris Mason.

Just ten seconds later, Tomas Kopecky beat Mason, putting the Wings up by a goal. Valtteri Filppula held in a clearing attempt at the blue line and sent the puck to Jiri Hudler in the left circle, who moved it to Kopecky for a wrister past Mason from the right side of the slot.

Brett Lebda finished off Detroit’s surge at 5:26 of the period, snapping a shot past Mason on a rush.

T.J. Oshie had opened the scoring for St. Louis with 5:16 left in the first period, putting a shot from the left side of the slot past Detroit netminder Chris Osgood on a pass from Andy MacDonald behind the net.

A Jeff Woywitka slap shot snuck past Osgood at 9:08 of the second, pulling the Blues to back within a goal.

Datsyuk’s second of the night, a wrister from the left side boards that snuck past two defenders and Mason, came with just 36 seconds left in the second.

Henrik Zetterberg added an empty net goal with 1:57 left in the game.

Osgood finished the afternoon with 30 saves on 32 shots against. Mason stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced while rookie Ben Bishop, who replaced Mason to start the third period, made three saves without allowing a goal.

The win was Osgood’s 300th as a Red Wing… Marian Hossa returned to the Detroit lineup after missing four with a neck injury.

Red Wings – Blues Postgame Notes

An early Merry Christmas (or a happy whatever holiday you may be celebrating) to everyone out there. I figure I’ll get that out of the way since I’m unlikely to be posting again until Friday’s matchup in Nashville.

I’ll keep my thoughts on last night’s 4-1 win over St. Louis short.

Brad Stuart wasn’t one of the three stars of the game but he could have been. As George Malik pointed out, Stuart registered an assist, two hits, a blocked shot, and one shot in 17:49 of ice time. His strong play jumping up is what allowed Detroit’s third goal to happen.

Another unexpected strong play was Marian Hossa‘s hit on Jeff Woywitka, forcing the first of two turnovers that led to the Wings’ fourth goal.

Power play, even strength, shorthanded… The Red Wings were “on” in all situations and it showed. Aside from a few minutes early on, the Blues were never really in the game. The shots seem to show otherwise but they’re distorted by the high number of penalties called.

After Slow Start, NHL Free Agent Frenzy Picks Up

When the National Hockey League’s free agent signing period opened at noon on Monday, many fans were surprised to see a league that was relatively quiet as GMs and players alike took a wait-and-see approach.

Early on Monday, only two notable signings – Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk agreeing to terms with the Florida Panthers – were on record. The Boston Bruins’ trade for Edmonton Oiler Brad Isbister rounded out the major moves.

Things picked up Monday night, as the Columbus Blue Jackets made their first-ever major free agent signing, picking up defenseman Adam Foote from the Colorado Avalanche.

The signings and trades continued into Tuesday as the Philadelphia Flyers made the first big splash in the free agent pool, signing defensemen Derian Hatcher (Detroit Red Wings), Mike Rathje (San Jose Sharks), and Chris Therien (Dallas Stars) and resigning forward Jon Sim.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up one of the top remaining free agent defensemen, signing Adrian Aucoin of the New York Islanders.

Shortly thereafter, the Atlanta Thrashers signed forward Bobby Holik from the New York Rangers.

In one of the more inevitable signings of the offseason, the Red Wings re-upped longtime captain Steve Yzerman, who will return to the team for at least one more season.

The Bruins continued on Monday’s moves by resigning winger Glen Murray and bringing in forwards Shawn McEachern (Atlanta) and Dave Scatchard (NY Islanders), while the Panthers continued their signings by bringing in Martin Gelinas (Calgary Flames).

Calgary moved to replace Gelinas with grinding forward Darren McCarty (Detroit) and add to an offense already boasting Jarome Iginla by signing Tony Amonte (Philadelphia).

The Los Angeles Kings broke into the free agent market by signing All-Star winger Pavol Demitra from the St. Louis Blues and AHL goaltender Jason Labarbera from the Rangers organization.

The Rangers then shored up their goaltending by resiging Kevin Weekes. They added to both offense and defense by bringing in forward Martin Straka (Los Angeles) and defenseman Marek Malik (Vancouver). Meanwhile, the cross-island rival Islanders filled the gap left by the departure of Aucoin by signing Buffalo’s Alexei Zhitnik.

The first player to depart the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning was Cory Stillman, who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday evening.

The biggest move of the day was saved for late Tuesday night, as the Blues, already burdened by the contracts of Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk, traded former captain and Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Chris Pronger to the Edmonton Oilers for defencemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch, and Jeff Woywitka.

St. Louis, Philly Upgrade for Playoff Run

The St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers announced major trades Monday as the two teams gear up for the run to the playoffs.

In the day’s first deal, St. Louis sent a fifth-round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft to the Flyers for defenseman Eric Weinrich.

With bluelines Barret Jackman and Al MacInnis out for the remainder of the season and the Blues fighting the a playoff spot, St. Louis made the move to solidify their defensive corps. Weinrich was made expendable in Philly by the midseason acquisitions of Mattias Timander and Danny Markov.

The bigger deal of the day, one rumored to be in the works over the All-Star weekend, the Flyers sent forward Mike Comrie to the Phoenix Coyotes for goaltender Sean Burke, forward Branko Radivojevic and prospect Ben Eager.

The Flyers had two callups between the pipes before the trade as Jeff Hackett and Robert Esche were both out with injuries. Hackett, who had been battling vertigo all season, announced his retirement after the deal was announced.

Philadelphia had acquired Comrie earlier this season from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Jeff Woywitka.

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