Powerful Play

The Red Wings demonstrated tonight just why they are known for their depth, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 and improved their record to 8-1-0.

Control of the puck went back and forth between the two teams throughout the first period; however, the Red Wings outshot the Oilers badly, holding them to only two shots in the first twenty minutes.

Sergei Fedorov opened the scoring late in the first period. Edmonton’s Marty Reasoner received a penalty for high-sticking with 8:23 before the break. The power play unit kept control of the puck in the offensive zone, and Fedorov was able to pick up a blue line pass from Nicklas Lidstrom and rifle a shot past goalie Tommy Salo.

The Oilers got their first power play opportunity with just over a minute left to play in the first, when Kirk Maltby was given a penalty for roughing after the play. The Oilers couldn’t seem to get organized, and Yzerman and Brett Hull were able to get a breakaway scoring chance up the ice.

Detroit got another power play chance 4:31 into the second period when Jason Smith was penalized for roughing. This time, though, Edmonton’s penalty killers effectively shut down the power play’s passing.

The Red Wings’ next goal came on their very next power play. Smith was back in the box for roughing with 8:48 left in the period. Lidstrom passed the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who fired from the left point, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped the puck in underneath Salo.

Edmonton’s Anson Carter believed that he had scored on Dominek Hasek while Jiri Fischer was serving a holding penalty, but Carter stopped short and looked with disbelief into the empty net while Hasek calmly handed the puck back to the referee for the next faceoff.

The Oilers brought their number of shots up in the second, mainly due to a total of three penalties to Fischer throughout the period. Still, they remained scoreless after two.

Detroit took back control of the game in the third period. Just two-and-a-half minutes in, Lidstrom got the puck to Igor Larionov on a three-on-one rush. Larionov passed to Luc Robitaille, who took the puck at the height of its bounce and flipped it past Salo.

The young “3-D Line” also managed to make their presence felt. Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from the Oilers at their own blue line, and passed over to Mathieu Dandenault. Dandenault lured both the defense and the goalie towards him, then passed back to Boyd Devereaux, who slid the puck into the wide open net.

Edmonton decided at that point to pull Salo from the net and send in rookie Ty Conklin to take his place. With barely ten minutes left to play, it did not provide enough momentum to help the Oilers come back, but it apparently inspired them to take away Hasek’s first potential shutout as a Red Wing. With just 5:15 left in the game, Sean Brown was able to get the puck past Detroit’s well-screened goalie.

Shanahan, Fedorov, Robitaille, and Yzerman all continued their scoring streaks. Shanahan is still the current scoring leader in the NHL. Hasek stopped 27 of 28 shots, Salo stopped 26 of 30, and Conklin stopped 7 of 7.

The Red Wings will finish their five-game homestand Friday night against the Dallas Stars.

Detroit Defeats Vancouver… Again

The Red Wings’ power play unit may still need some time for the players to get used to each other, but the penalty kill unit seems on target to become a name to be feared throughout the NHL. The Wings continued their great start to the 2001-2002 season on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver continued the rough, tough style of play that caused such a rough time for Colorado in last season’s playoffs. Just 3:40 after the opening faceoff, Vancouver’s Donald Brashear boarded defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov, cutting him in the process. Brashear was given a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct. One less thug to worry about.

The game was full of penalties and stoppages in play, yet most of the penalties called seemed to be oddly unimportant. UPN 50 color commentator Mickey Redmond even complained about it, saying that he wished the referees would call more of the hard hits and cross-checks from behind that the Canucks were laying on Detroit. The first period ended scoreless, although a total of seven penalties (four for Detroit, three for Vancouver) had been handed out.

The second period continued in the same choppy fashion. Vancouver’s Ed Jovanovski opened the scoring 9:42 into the period with an unassisted goal against Dominek Hasek. Seconds later, however, at 9:53, the Canucks’ Matt Cooke was handed a penalty for tripping. Steve Yzerman won the faceoff and got the puck to Sergei Fedorov, who shot it right past goalie Dan Cloutier. The power play lasted a total of three seconds.

The Wings took the lead with 3:31 remaining in the second. Defenseman Jiri Fischer stepped out of the penalty box, grabbed the puck that teammate Frederick Olausson had just shot down the ice, and ran with it, flipping it past Cloutier on a bounce. Kirk Maltby was also given an assist on Fischer’s goal.

The Red Wings’ penalty killing unit, which, at this point, had already shut down seven Vancouver power plays, went on the offensive with 1:44 left in the second. Chris Chelios got the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who once again got past the surprised goalie for his third shorthanded goal in two games.

The third period began with Detroit determined not to lose a two goal lead as they had done against the Sharks. The penalties were less frequent. Shanahan and Jason Strudwick received offsetting penalties for roughing with 9:50 left in the game, while Strudwick also receievd a second minor for high sticking. Shanahan’s ear was bleeding from Strudwick’s stick, and he had to go off to the dressing room to receive treatment.

With 5:56 remaining in the game, Yzerman essentially clinched the game for the Wings, receiving a pass from Brett Hull and firing it into the net. Shanahan came back out to finish the game, but was almost immediately removed from the ice again, as he and Strudwick fought it out over the earlier high stick. Shanahan received the two minute instigator penalty and a game misconduct to go along with the regular five minute fighting major.

Detroit’s power play was 1 for 9, while Vancouver’s was 0 for 8. Hasek stopped 29 shots, and Cloutier stopped only 15. The Red Wings have not lost to Vancouver since February 6, 1997. It just goes to show, you don’t have to lay on the dirty hits to win a hockey game. Perhaps Vancouver coach Marc Crawford could learn a thing or two from Scotty Bowman.