Flames Fizzle Again

It wasn’t a shutout this time, and Calgary put in a much better effort than they have in the two previous matches this season, but the Red Wings still came up with a 4-2 victory over the Flames.

This game had a much better flow to it than did the Red Wings’ Friday night game against Carolina. Even with the relative lack of penalties this time, the Red Wings opened the scoring on a power play resulting from an interference call against Stephane Yelle. Dmitri Bykov took a shot on net which was deflected by goalie Roman Turek. Sean Avery took the rebound behind the net and sent it to Darren McCarty, who passed it across to Brendan Shanahan waiting on the left side. The Flames had all turned towards the right in reaction to Bykov’s shot, and before they could get refocused, Shanahan let go a hard shot. Turek was partially screened by one of his own defensemen, and the puck rattled into the net.

The Flames had a chance to even the game while they were shorthanded. Jarome Iginla managed to get the puck and fly in all alone against Curtis Joseph, but Joseph flung himself out to take away the bottom half of the net, and Iginla couldn’t lift the shot high enough.

Calgary did tie the game with 7:35 left to play in the second period. Robyn Regehr made a shot from the left point which was deflected on its way through by Scott Nichol. The redirection caused the puck to be hard for Joseph to handle, and the rebound came free to Craig Conroy, who put it into the empty portion of the net.

Henrik Zetterberg stole the Flames’ momentum and quite probably cast a hush over all the sports bars in and around the city of Calgary just 32 seconds later. Jason Woolley banked a shot off the end boards which came right out to Zetterberg in front of the net, and Zetterberg put the puck in on the far side of Turek.

Sean Avery increased Detroit’s lead midway through the third period. The Flames made an ill-advised pass up the middle, and Avery, just off the bench, picked it off and went in alone against Turek. The puck sailed into the net high past Turek’s catching glove.

The Flames had a golden opportunity when Jesse Wallin was given a tripping penalty with less than two minutes to play, and they did what they could with it. They pulled Turek from the net so that they could go with six skaters against four. Conroy won the faceoff deep in the Red Wings’ zone and got the puck back to Toni Lydman at the right point. Lydman sent it across to Iginla in the high slot, and Iginla ripped a hard shot past Joseph.

Calgary pulled Turek out of the net again after the next faceoff, but this time it worked to the Red Wings’ advantage. Brett Hull cleared the puck from the zone up to Sergei Fedorov at center, and Fedorov’s shot edged into the empty net with 16.3 seconds remaining.

Turek stopped 14 of the 17 shots he faced over the night, giving him an 82% save percentage. Joseph stopped 31 of the 33 he faced, for a much more impressive 94% save percentage.

The Red Wings next opponent will be the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The two teams will meet on Tuesday night at the Joe.

Pavel Datsyuk was out with a sprained knee. The team reports that he will be out for at least two weeks…. Chris Chelios was also out tonight, with a broken finger…. Brett Hull’s assist on Sergei Fedorov’s last second empty net goal saved Hull’s point streak and extended it to nine games.

Flat Play Brings A Loss

Very often after a big win, the victorious team will come out playing flat, uninspired hockey for their next game. The was the case for the Red Wings after their Tuesday night 5-0 rout of the Flames, and the Vancouver Canucks were the beneficiaries, winning 4-1.

The Canucks got their scoring going early in the game. Trevor Letowski took a shot on net from the right boards, and Curtis Joseph left a large rebound. Matt Cooke came in from the left, scooped up the rebound, and put it into the net before Joseph could get over.

The Red Wings spent unfortunately placed two-minute chunks of the rest of the period killing off penalties. Darren McCarty took two calls right in a row, and Jesse Wallin was then sent to the box for hooking with 5:24 remaining. With just four seconds remaining in that penalty, Markus Naslund increased the Canucks’ lead to two by slapping in a pass by Brendan Morrison from behind the net.

Breakdowns in defensive communication led to the two Vancouver goals in the second period. Jarkko Ruutu was allowed to make a pass which sprang Trent Klatt on a partial breakaway, and Klatt’s hard shot went in over Joseph’s shoulder. A few minutes later, a mix-up between Kris Draper and Dmitri Bykov at the Vancouver blue line allowed Todd Bertuzzi to steal the puck and get out on a full breakaway. This shot also went high past Joseph, and coach Dave Lewis decided it was time to rescue his goalie. Manny Legace came in to take Joseph’s place.

The Canucks forced Legace to make a few very good saves early on, but then they sat back a little. The Red Wings found their offensive momentum too late in the game. Brett Hull scored a power play goal by one-timing in a good pass from Luc Robitaille, and Detroit used the energy from that goal to sustain some pressure in the Vancouver zone, but goaltender Dan Cloutier was not about to let them stage a comeback at that late point in the game.

The final shots on net were 29 to 23 in favor of Vancouver. Joseph made 14 saves on 18 shots before being pulled. Legace stopped all 11 of the shots he faced.

The Red Wings will close out their western road trip Saturday night with the first game of a home-and-home against the Edmonton Oilers, who have an 8-8-3-1 record for the season and a 3-4-2-0 record when playing at home.

Markus Naslund’s goal moved him to sole possessor of first place in NHL goals for the season, with 13…. Manny Legace has played enough minutes at this point to qualify as a league leader in stats. Going into this game, he had first place in both save percentage (.983) and goals against average (1.79).

Waking the Scoring Touch

The Nashville Predators were at the end of a seven game roadtrip, and they were weary. The Red Wings on the other hand, were in the middle of a five game homestand in which they had thus far tied with the Stars, been shutout by the Blackhawks, and finally squeaked out an overtime win over the Bruins. They were ready to play to win, so they did just that, and gained a 4-1 victory over Nashville.

The Red Wings definitely outplayed the Predators in the first period, outshooting them by a count of 16-6, but goalie Mike Dunham was sharp in his net. The Predators were able to open the scoring just before the period ended. Darren McCarty was in the penalty box for holding, and Nashville’s power play unit took advantage of their situation. Vladimir Orzagh pushed to the net with the puck. Martin Erat trailed close behind. When one of the Red Wings’ defensmen poked the puck away from Orzagh, Erat got it in the confusion and threw it back into the tangle of feet. The puck pinballed off the skate of Chris Chelios, past Curtis Joseph, and into the net.

Brendan Shanahan tied the game up for the Wings early in the second period. Sergei Fedorov‘s shot rebounded to the right side. Shanahan scooped it up and shot it from a tight angle. Dunham was still trapped at the other side of the net, and the puck went in high under the crossbar, ending Shanahan’s nine-game goal drought.

After that, the game belonged to Detroit. Fedorov scored a goal on a breakaway set up by Shanahan to give the Wings the lead before the period was over. He got in ahead of defenseman Bill Houlder, and his shot bounced off the goalpost, off Dunham’s skate, back off the goalpost, and finally into the net.

The Predators made a few attempts to get back into the game in the third period, even after the Wings went up by two goals. Nashville gave up the puck in their own end. McCarty got hold of it, spun around, and flung it at the net. Dunham was partially screened by Kirk Maltby, and the puck bounced off a skate to change direction on the way in. Dunham didn’t have much of a chance.

Nashville tried to make the most of a power play they were given when Jesse Wallin was penalized for delay of game, for covering up the puck with his body after a strange scramble left Joseph out of position. The Red Wings’ penalty killers took the play to them instead, giving them no chance to score against Joseph.

A slashing penalty on Scott Hartnell gave the Wings their opportunity to put the game out of reach for good. Pavel Datsyuk passed from behind the net to Fedorov on the right side. Fedorov’s shot was blocked by Dunham, but the rebound squirted straight to where Shanahan waited on the left side. Another quick one-timer from another tight angle, and the score was 4-1 to end the game.

The final tally of shots on net were 38-23 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings will end their five game homestand on Friday night when they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

This was Curtis Joseph’s first ever victory against the Predators. He has a 1-2-1 lifetime record against them…. Sean Avery has been sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins to play in a few conditioning games…. Jiri Fischer left the game in the third period with a knee injury. An MRI has been scheduled.

Wings Hold Off Late Sharks Surge

Even after signing their holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, the San Jose Sharks are still not quite up to form. They showed some progress from the 6-3 season opener on October 10, but the Red Wings again defeated the Sharks, this time with a score of 3-2, to give goaltender Curtis Joseph his 350th career victory.

The Red Wings improved their defensive play somewhat after Saturday’s breakdown against Nashville, and allowed the Sharks only seven shots on net in the first period. The Wings also gained an advantage by getting the first power play of the game, 7:53 into the first. With Scott Hannan in the penalty box for hooking, the Detroit power play had a chance to give the Wings an early lead. Luc Robitaille passed the puck neatly from the right boards up to Igor Larionov behind the net. Larionov saw then that three of the four Sharks on the ice were covering Brett Hull in the slot area, but that Sergei Fedorov was moving quietly into position near the left faceoff circle. Larionov threaded the pass through to Fedorov, and Fedorov placed a well-aimed one-timer just over the right shoulder of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

Owen Nolan tied the game up for the Sharks early in the second period. Niklas Sundstrom sent the puck out from the corner to Nolan in open ice, and Nolan let go a low shot which went past Curtis Joseph, off the right goalpost, and into the net.

Jason Williams regained the lead for Detroit with his first goal of the season. Pavel Datsyuk tied up two Sharks along the right boards, and still managed to pass the puck to Williams in the corner. Williams had space enough to skate out in front of the net and backhand a shot right between Nabokov’s legs.

Nolan again brought the game back to a tie, this time with a power play goal while Nick Lidstrom was in the box for high-sticking. Mike Ricci fired a hard shot from the left point, and the puck tipped off Nolan’s stick and into the net.

The Wings finally got the lead for good early in the third period. They gained a rare five-on-three advantage with Vincent Damphousse and Scott Hannan both in the box. Brendan Shanahan cycled the puck back to Lidstrom at the left point. Lidstrom sent the pass along the blue line to Fedorov, and Fedorov one-timed a laser speed shot which deflected off of Marcus Ragnarsson and into the net.

The Sharks pulled Nabokov from the net to have six skaters in the last minutes of play, but Joseph was ready for them. His reflexes were sharp enough and quick enough to deny Nolan his hat trick and deny the Sharks a trip to overtime.

Final shots on net were twenty-two to twenty in the Red Wings’ favor. The Wings went 2 for 7 on the power play, while the Sharks went 1 for 3. The Red Wings will have a few nights off; their next game is Saturday night in Ottawa against the Senators.

The Red Wings have scored at least one power play goal in each game so far this year… Henrik Zetterberg is still out with an injured groin, Dmitri Bykov is out with an injured shoulder, and Tomas Holmstrom sat this game out with a bruised sternum. Jason Williams, Jesse Wallin, and Sean Avery made their way into the lineup to cover for their injured teammates… Steve Yzerman took to the ice for a light skate at this morning’s practice. It was a very slow, easy skate, but his recovery seems to be progressing on schedule, and he should be back in the lineup by January or February.

Wings Hand Wild First Loss of Season Before Record Crowd

19,344 people, the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game in the state of Minnesota, gathered at the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild attempt to defend their season-long unbeaten streak against the Detroit Red Wings. The Wild fans went home disappointed, because the Red Wings had other ideas, eventually gaining a 5-3 victory.

Minnesota opened the scoring early in the first period. Wes Walz took advantage of a defensive mistake by rookie Dmitri Bykov and got the puck away on a two-on-two rush. Sergei Fedorov dropped to the ice to take away the passing lane, but Walz instead deked around Fedorov and put the puck into the net through Curtis Joseph‘s five-hole.

The Wild increased their lead about six minutes later. Antti Laaksonen and Bill Muckalt got away another two-on-two rush against Bykov and Nick Lidstrom, Laaksonen passed across to Muckalt, and Muckalt’s hard shot found its way past Joseph.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Red Wings when Kirk Maltby took a penalty for roughing. The penalty killing unit did its work well, and sent the puck down to the Wild’s end of the ice. Nick Schultz went to retrieve it, but he was forced to make a pass without looking with Henrik Zetterberg there to pressure him. To Schultz’s dismay, the errant pass landed right on the stick of Brett Hull, and Hull’s powerful one-time shot went right through goalie Dwayne Roloson.

The Wings surged back then, taking control of the game and cutting down the Wild’s chances to score. Bykov gained his first NHL assist by giving the puck to Kris Draper so that Draper could set up a one-time goal by Darren McCarty, and Lidstrom scored a power play goal to put Detroit into the lead. Fedorov passed along the blue line to Lidstrom at the left point, and Lidstrom’s shot deflected off the stick of Laaksonen and into the net.

Laaksonen tied the game back up early in the second period, on another two-on-two rush. Jiri Fischer tried to take the puck away from Laaksonen, but Laaksonen got the shot away first, and it went into the net high past Joseph’s catching glove.

McCarty put the Wings back in the lead to stay before too long. McCarty pushed to the front of the net. Draper threw the puck at the net from the right half-boards, and McCarty knocked it out of the air to bounce it off Roloson’s helmet and into the net.

Detroit settled the game down in the third period, holding the Wild to only four shots against Joseph. Boyd Devereaux had a good breakaway scoring chance, and the Grind Line continued its steady pressure in the Wild’s zone, but the Wings were careful not to take any unnecessary chances with only a one-goal lead. The Wild did not pull their goaltender for an extra attacker in the final minute, even though they had two faceoffs in Detroit’s zone, but Zetterberg scored into a nearly empty net anyway. Fedorov got the puck away from Minnesota’s attack and took off with it, Zetterberg keeping up on his left. Fedorov made the pass, and Zetterberg tried to pass it back, since Roloson came across to challenge Zetterberg’s shot, but the pass never got through to Fedorov. Instead, the puck hit the skate blade of Filip Kuba and slid into the net to guarantee the Red Wings’ victory with 25 seconds left in the game.

Shots on net were thirty-seven to twenty-two in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings scored on one of their three power plays, bringing their power play to 30% for the season. Detroit’s next game will be at home against the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Detroit’s three shorthanded goals leads the NHL….Jesse Wallin made his season debut, while Max Kuznetsov sat this game out. Wallin played a responsible game, paired with Mathieu Dandenault for most of his time on the ice, and ended with a rating of +1.

Rested and Ready for the Old Rivalry

The Detroit-Colorado rivalry may not be what it used to be, having changed over the years from an intense hatred to a strong, if wary, respect. But it still brings out the best play in both teams, and even far away in Denver, there are Red Wings fans who will throw an octopus onto the Pepsi Center’s ice to celebrate a 3-1 Detroit victory.

The Red Wings were well rested from their long weekend, and it showed in their eagerness to play. Detroit controlled the play through most of the first period. Colorado goalie Patrick Roy had to be sharp to keep the puck out of his net. He succeeded, stopping all twelve of the shots he faced through the first twenty minutes. Dominik Hasek responded in kind at the other end of the ice, stopping seven Avalanche shots to keep the game scoreless through twenty minutes.

The Avalanche scored early in the second period. Brad Larson centered the puck from behind the net. It bounced off Jesse Wallin‘s stick, and Scott Parker poked it into the net.

The rest of the second was all Red Wings, taking twenty shots to Colorado’s four. Darren McCarty got Detroit on the scoreboard midway through the period. Sean Avery won the faceoff in Colorado’s zone, and got the puck back to Kirk Maltby, who passed along the blue line to Jesse Wallin. Wallin fired and Roy deflected the shot, but McCarty was well-placed to gather up the rebound and slap it into the net.

McCarty wasn’t done raising his team’s momentum. As is appropriate in a Detroit-Colorado game, he got into a fight. Rick Berry had hit Igor Larionov with what McCarty viewed as unnecessary roughness, and McCarty was not willing to let this go unchallenged. The linesmen broke up the fight and sent both combatants to the penalty box for five minutes.

Avery followed suit before too long, scrapping with Dan Hinote over an interference penalty to Wallin. The fighting majors to Avery and Hinote offset each other, but Wallin’s initial penalty gave the Avalanche a two-minute man advantage.

It did them no good whatsoever. The two Colorado defensemen attempted to pass the puck to each other along Detroit’s blue line to set up a play, but Kris Draper intercepted the pass and broke out of the zone, getting halfway down the ice before the Avalanche realized what had happened. Draper’s initial shot on net was turned away by Roy, but Maltby came trailing the play and sent the rebound over Roy’s right arm to put the Red Wings in the lead.

The Avalanche came back hard in the third period. Detroit concentrated on their defense, but still needed Hasek to make several dazzling saves, and he seemed happy to oblige them. The Red Wings took total control of the game in the last minute, keeping Roy from edging out of the net to let the sixth skater into the play. When Colorado finally got the puck into Detroit’s end, Chris Chelios made a simple poke check to get it away. Nick Lidstrom sent it down the ice on a nicely centered clearing shot which went directly into the empty net, to the delight of the octopus-bearing Red Wings fan.

Shots on net wound up thirty-four to twenty-four in Detroit’s favor, and neither team was able to score on the power play. The Red Wings will return home to face the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Joe.

Jesse Wallin’s assist was his first career NHL point. Steve Yzerman expects to be recovered from his knee surgery in time to play with the team against Montreal on February 11, giving him two games with the Wings before the Olympic break.