Red Wings Edge Blackhawks to Start Road Trip

The Detroit Red Wings kicked off a three game road trip with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night. The loss was Chicago’s first in regulation under new head coach Denis Savard.

The Red Wings weathered constant pressure from the Blackhawks, a team invigorated by the recent return of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Martin Havlat from injury. Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek made 29 saves on 31 shots in one of his more impressive outings of the season.

Henrik Zetterberg got the Red Wings on the board just 3:57 into the game, pounding a shot between Khabibulin’s pads off a spinning behind-the-back pass from Pavel Datsyuk. Khabibulin appeared to have made the save until the puck trickled through and crossed the goal line.

The Blackhawks pulled even with 9:16 remaining in the second period, capitalizing on a giveaway by Robert Lang.

Lang attempted to clear the zone with a cross-ice pass but it was picked off by Jim Vandermeer, who passed up to Jeff Hamilton, in all alone on Hasek with Patrick Sharp. Hamilton passed to Sharp and Hasek went down to make the stop, but Sharp passed back off to Hamilton, who had a wide open net.

Only 1:54 later, Lang helped make up for his miscue with an assist on the Dan Cleary goal that put Detroit back out in front.

Coming out of the Detroit zone, Cleary got the puck to Lang, who gave it back when Cleary made it to the left faceoff circle in the Chicago zone. Before Khabibulin could get set, Cleary put a quick shot off the far post and into the net.

The Red Wings extended their lead with a power play goal with 8:24 remaining in regulation. After a series of passes left the Blackhawks scrambling but the Wings unable to shoot, Mathieu Schneider got the puck to Mikael Samuelsson in the right circle for a heavy shot over Khabibulin’s shoulder.

A rare miscue by Nicklas Lidstrom 2:14 later allowed Tuomo Ruutu to pull Chicago back within one. In front of the Detroit goal, the puck got caught in Lidstrom’s skates and his attempt to corral it went straight to Ruutu, who whipped a shot past Hasek.

Detroit fended off a late Chicago power play and one minute of 6-on-5 with the Blackhawks’ net empty to preserve the win.

Khabibulin finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots.

Detroit was 1-for-3 on the power play while Chicago was held without a goal on five power play chances.

The Red Wings continue their road trip on Saturday when they visit the New Jersey Devils for an afternoon game.

Tomas Kopecky left the game early in the third period after crashing awkwardly into the boards. Initial reports indicate that he suffered a broken collarbone.

One More Milestone

The two teams who started the game tied for the highest number of goals this season nearly ended the game in the same way, until Steve Yzerman‘s thousandth career assist set up the game winning goal in overtime, putting the Red Wings over the Ottawa Senators 3-2.

The Senators opened the scoring 6:37 into the game. Martin Havlat carried the puck behind the net, managed to get past Nick Lidstrom, and then brought the puck around and sent it into the net off Dominik Hasek‘s left skate.

Pavel Datsyuk evened up the game a few moments later. He got the pass from Boyd Devereaux and fired on net. Goaltender Jani Hurme blocked the shot, but Datsyuk grabbed up his own rebound, carried it around the back of the net, and banked it in off the toe of an Ottawa defenseman’s skate.

The second period was low on offense for both teams, because of Ottawa’s style of play. The Senators played a very tight defensive style, leaving four men back to keep the puck from getting across their blue line, and sending only one man up to try to get the puck away from the Red Wings and create scoring chances.

Ottawa did end the period with a one-goal lead, in spite of their defensive play. The Red Wings took a bench minor penalty for having too many men on the ice, so Boyd Devereaux went to the box to serve the penalty. Havlat was able to beat Hasek again, taking a rinkwide pass from Karel Rachunek and sending the puck between Hasek’s leg pads.

The Red Wings scored early in the third period and kept Ottawa running for the rest of the game. Zdano Chara attempted to clear the puck from the Senators’ zone, but Kirk Maltby intercepted it and kept it in. Maltby, Sergei Fedorov, and Luc Robitaille kept firing the puck at Hurme until Robitaille finally put the puck in the net while Hurme was flopped down to block the previous shot.

Detroit played with more intensity after Robitaille’s goal, keeping the play in Ottawa’s zone for most of the period, but Hurme made save after save, keeping his team’s chance to win alive. Ottawa had a chance to end it when Igor Larionov took a slashing penalty with only 1:25 left in regulation play, but the Red Wings’ penalty killing unit kept the puck away from Hasek until the end of the period.

The overtime started with thirty-five seconds left in Larionov’s penalty, causing the Red Wings to be on the disadvantage of four-on-three play. Ottawa couldn’t put the puck into the net, Larionov came out of the box, and the Red Wings carried the play down to the Senators’ end of the ice.

Steve Yzerman got the puck out of the corner and sent it to Larionov behind the net. Larionov made a centering pass to Mathieu Dandenault, who tipped the puck into the net, just before the net was lifted from behind, which would have negated the goal. The video goal judges ruled that the goal was valid, and the Red Wings extended their home winning streak to ten games. Yzerman is only the ninth player in NHL history to score one thousand or more assists.

Hasek stopped twenty of twenty-two shots he faced during the evening, while Hurme stopped an amazing thirty-six of the thirty-nine the Red Wings sent against him. The Red Wings’ next game will be Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

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