Red Wings’ Down Lightning for Sixth Consecutive Win

The Detroit Red Wings won their sixth consecutive game Wednesday night, a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting.

The game was the first in Detroit for the Steve Yzerman-led Lighting since Yzerman left the Red Wings organization to take over in Tampa Bay.

Pavel Datsyuk opened the game’s scoring at 4:58 of the first period. The Lightning failed to clear their zone off a faceoff win and the puck bounced from player to player, ending up near Todd Bertuzzi at the side of the crease. Bertuzzi poked it out to Datsyuk in the slot for a quick shot past goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Jonathan Ericsson‘s first goal of the season made it 2-0 Detroit with 8:56 left in the period. Ericsson jumped into the play and took a pass from Valtteri Filppula, flinging a shot from the high slot past Roloson.

The Lighting would rally in the second period.

At 9:35 of the period, Martin St. Louis beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from the slot with Tampa Bay on a power play.

With just 14 seconds left in the middle frame, Steven Stamkos was left unguarded at the bottom of the left faceoff circle and took a pass from Matt Gilroy, beating Howard to tie things up.

Tomas Holmstrom scored a power play goal from the side of the net to put Detroit back out in front at 4:22 of the third period and Darren Helm scored while cutting through the middle with 6:46 left in regulation to give the Red Wings the win.

Howard made 21 saves on 23 shots, including a stop on a shorthanded breakaway by Gilroy in the third period. Roloson stopped 31 of 35 Detroit shots.

Each team scored one power play goal. The Red Wings had five chances with the extra attacker while the Lightning had four.

The Wings are back in action on Friday when the visit the Buffalo Sabres, the first game of a three-game road trip.

After the game, Detroit forward Patrick Eaves was placed on short-term injured reserve and Chris Conner was called up to fill his roster spot.

Thoughts on the NHL Awards

I don’t think any of tonight’s NHL award winners surprised me except for the one Detroit win.

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom claimed his seventh Norris Trophy and I have to wonder if it was intended to be a going away present from a media contingent that thought he was going to retire.

I think Lidstrom deserved the award despite his a plus/minus on the negative side for the first time in his career. That said, Zdeno Chara had an incredible year and Shea Weber was a “sexy” pick, I didn’t think there would be enough votes for Lidstrom.

Seven Norris Trophies is incredible. Only Bobby Orr has more at eight, with Lidstrom now having tied Doug Harvey. Elite company, for sure.

I can’t say I’m shocked that Pavel Datsyuk didn’t retain the Selke Trophy, as there were thoughts that Ryan Kesler would take it last season. The Lady Byng was Martin St. Louis‘ to lose so Lidstrom didn’t have a shot there.

As for the show itself… Wings fans have joked about Norris Trophy winner “Niklas Lindstrom” for years so we shouldn’t be surprised when the presenters continue to mangle names. Several “Lindstrom” occurrances tonight, a reference to “Steve Why-zerman” and a mangled “Martin Saint Lewis.”

I complained about that to my wife after the show and I like the point she made. These are the best of the best NHL players. How is it acceptable for the league to show them so little respect?

My thinking was that it was insulting to the fans that the league can’t even pull together presenters who can pretend like they want to be there. If it’s offensive to us, how bad is it for the players who busted their asses to get there?

That said, this has been happening for years, you have to think the players would have brought it up by now if it were an issue. I have to bet we’ll see it next year, too.

Western Conference Triumphant in All-Star Game

In the National Hockey League’s first All-Star Game since 2004, the Western Conference’s veteran team outscored an Eastern Conference squad led by young stars, picking up a 12-9 win.

It was the first win by the Western Conference since 2003 and only their second in the six games that have been played in the East vs. West format.

Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres was the game’s MVP, scoring a goal and adding four assists in the losing effort.

Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored the eventual game-winning goal, one of his two goals on the night. He also assisted twice.

Other were Yanic Perrault (Phoenix Coyotes), Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lighting), Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes), Libomir Vishnovsky (Los Angeles Kings), Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks), Justin Williams (Carolina), Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Martin Havlat (Chicago Blackhawks), Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Brian Rolston (Minnesota Wild), Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators), Sheldon Souray (Montreal Canadiens) and Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames).

Marty Turco of the hometown Dallas Stars got the win in goal while Cristobal Huet of Montreal took the loss, despite having the best save percentage of any of the Eastern Conference goalies.

Earlier in the day, the NHL announced that the Montreal Canadiens will host the 2009 All-Star Game as part of the celebration of the Canadiens’ 100th season. The Atlanta Thrashers will host in 2008, after originally having been selected to host the cancelled 2005 game.

Draper Picked for Team Canada

Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper was announced as a member of Canada’s entry in the coming Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament on Wednesday night. It marks the first time that Draper will represent his country in the Olympics.

“Being selected has to be the highlight of my career,” Draper said after the announcement was made. “Being picked for the World Cup was an absolute thrill, but to play in the Olympics is something that is just huge. It’s the biggest sporting event in the world, and to be able to represent Canada, I’m just very honored.”

Draper joins teammates Mathieu Schneider and Chris Chelios as Olympians. The two defensemen were named to Team USA on Monday.

Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman had earlier removed himself from the running for a spot on the Canadian team, stating that he did not want to keep a younger player who deserved to make the team off the roster.

Kirk Maltby and Brendan Shanahan were also considered for the team but were not selected. Shanahan and Yzerman played for Canada in the 2002 Olympics, becoming the second and third players ever to win an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year.

Joe Sakic was named the team’s captain. Canada’s roster is as follows:

Goaltenders (3)
Martin Brodeur
Roberto Luongo
Marty Turco

Defensemen (7)
Rob Blake
Adam Foote
Ed Jovanovski
Scott Niedermayer
Chris Pronger
Wade Redden
Robyn Regehr

Forwards (13)
Todd Bertuzzi
Shane Doan
Kris Draper
Simon Gagne
Dany Heatley
Jarome Iginla
Vincent Lecavalier
Rick Nash
Brad Richards
Joe Sakic
Ryan Smyth
Martin St. Louis
Joe Thornton

Wings Fall to Lightning in Exhibition Opener

Joe Louis Arena hosted its first National Hockey League game in seventeen months on Monday, as the Detroit Red Wings opened their 2005 exhibition season with a 5-3 loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

The difference between the hockey that used to be played at the Joe and that which will be played (for at least the first month of) this upcoming season was evident immediately. The NHL’s crackdown on obstruction led to 18 penalties and half a game’s worth of specialty teams play.

“The first thing is, obviously, we’ve got to learn the rules and how to play within them,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Because it’s hard to get any kind of momentum or any feel when you’re on the power play all the time or on the penalty kill. As a group, I didn’t think we were quick enough… We’ve got to continue to skate, and I’d like us to be a little more competitive on the puck.”

Detroit goalie Manny Legace allowed two goals on fifteen shots, one to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards and the other to Fredrik Modin. Rookie Jimmy Howard took over the crease for the third period and the shootout, allowing goals to Martin St. Louis and Evgeny Artyukhin on the first three shots he faced.

The Lighning scored an empty-net goal late in the third period to ice the game.

Detroit’s first goal came from Nicklas Lidstrom while the Wings enjoyed a 5-on-3 manpower advantage. Kris Draper scored the Red Wings’ other two goals.

St. Louis and Richards scored for the Lightning in the shootout, while Jason Williams notched the Wings’ lone shootout tally.

Canada Downs USA in North American World Cup Opener

Team USA came out flat in the first period of the first North American matchup in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and it cost them the game, as two power-play goals carried Team Canada to a 2-1 win Tuesday night.

The Americans managed only six shots in the first twenty minutes of play as the Canadians controlled the game. Canada got the game’s first goal with 3:59 remaining in the first period when Martin St. Louis scored on the power play.

Joe Sakic added another goal with the man-advantage just 3:05 into the second period, giving Team Canada a 2-0 lead.

The US pulled within one when Bill Guerin put a shot over the shoulder of Canadian goaltender Martin Brodeur but that wouldn’t be enough. The remainder of the game would be scoreless as Canada picked up the victory.

Canada will next be in action against Slovakia on Wednesday night in Montreal. The United States’ next game is Thursday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, when they host Russia.

In Tuesday’s European game, Sweden defeated Germany, 5-2. In the tournament opener on Monday, Finland surprised the Czech Republic with a 4-0 victory.

Lightning Strike in Game Seven: Tampa Bay Claims Stanley Cup

Monday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning completed their comeback from a 3-2 series deficit to the Calgary Flames after five games of their Stanley Cup Finals matchup, claiming Game Seven by the score of 2-1 after forcing the deciding game with a 3-2 double-overtime win in Game Six. It was the only time in the series that a team won two games in a row.

Ruslan Fedotenko, injured earlier in the series but back on the ice, scored both goals for the Lightning, giving Tampa Bay an early lead and putting pressure on the Flames to make risky plays.

Fedotenko opened the game’s scoring on the power play 13:31 into the game. Fredrik Modin fought for the puck along the boards and sent it out to Brad Richards – the eventually Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP – at the right point. Richards fired a shot that was stopped by Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff but Fedotenko picked up the rebound and put it into the net for his 11th goal of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay went up by two with 5:22 remaining in the second when Fedotenko took a beautiful pass from Vincent Lecavalier and fired a shot over Kiprusoff’s glove.

Calgary cut the lead in half on a power play at 9:21 of the third. With Nolan Pratt in the penalty box on a strange interference call, Craig Conroy sent a shot through a screen and past the glove of Lightning netminder Nikolai Khabibulin.

Both teams had their chances as the Flames turned up the pressure in the game’s final minutes.

Tampa essentially clinched the game when Andrew Ference high-sticked Martin St. Louis and was called for charging at 18:59 of the period. Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk went to the box for tripping with 23 seconds left in the NHL’s season but Calgary’s momentum was already gone and the Flames failed to force overtime.

Richards, who led the NHL in the postseason with 26 points and set a new NHL postseason record with seven game-winning goals, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy following the game.

Lightning Force Game Seven

Tampa Bay Lightning playoff hero Martin St. Louis scored 33 seconds into the second overtime period to give the Lightning a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames and force a Game Seven in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup. This is the second consecutive year and third of the last four that seven games will be required to determine a Stanley Cup Champion.

St. Louis picked up a rebound as he skated in at the Calgary net. He lifted a shot over the shoulder of Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and gave the Lightning the win.

Martin Gelinas had almost won the Cup for Calgary in the first overtime when a puck deflected off his skate and appeared to cross the goal line before it was kicked away by Tampa Bay goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The scoring chance was not reviewed and play continued.

After a scoreless first period, the Lightning opened the game’s scoring on the power play when Brad Richards beat Kiprusoff for the first of his two power play goals.

Chris Clark tied the game before Richards’ second goal put the Lightning back in front. Marcus Nilson scored before the end of the second to tie the game again.

Both teams were held scoreless on seven shots in both the third period and the first overtime period. St. Louis’ goal came on the second shot of the second overtime.

Khabibulin stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced while Kiprusoff made 24 saves on 27 shots. Tampa Bay went 2-for-4 on the power play as Calgary was held without a goal on three chances with the man-advantage.

The Stanley Cup will be awarded in Tampa on Monday night to the winner of Game Seven.

Flames One Away from First Cup in Fifteen Years

Calgary forward Oleg Saprykin scored 14:40 into overtime of Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals to lift the Flames to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and give Calgary a 3-2 lead in the series. The Flames can finish off the Lightning at home and claim their first Stanley Cup since 1989 on Saturday.

Saprykin’s goal came off the rebound of a shot by Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who had been on the ice for a shift that lasted over 90 seconds. Iginla fired from the left of Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who made the save but left a rebound for Saprykin. Saprykin put the puck between Khabibulin’s legs to win the game.

Twice the Lightning fought back from being a goal down but they were unable to pick up the win on home ice.

Calgary’s Martin Gelinas opened the scoring just 2:13 into the game on a Flames power play. Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis evened things up with 34 seconds remaining in the period to put the score at 1-1 at the end of the first.

Iginla gave the Flames their second lead of the game with 4:50 remaining in the second but Fredrik Modin lifted the Lightning back into a tie 37 seconds into the third, just 6 seconds into a power play.

Khabibulin stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced between the pipes for the Lightning, while Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves on 28 shots. Each team went 1-for-2 on the power play.

Flames Win Game One

The Calgary Flames came out faster and stronger than the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night, scoring early and often to earn a 4-1 win in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. With the win, Calgary takes a 1-0 lead in the series and Tampa Bay loses their home-ice advantage.

Martin Gelinas, one of Calgary’s postseason heroes thus far, opened the game’s scoring just 3:02 into the game. Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla scored shorthanded with under five minutes remaining in the second period to put Calgary up by two. Less than three minutes later, Stephane Yelle gave Calgary a three-goal lead.

Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis scored a power play goal early in the third period to put the Lightning on the board but it wasn’t enough.

Calgary’s Chris Simon scored while the Flames had a two-man advantage in the final minute of the game to close out the scoring.

It is the third time this postseason that the Flames have won Game One of a series.

Game Two is Thursday night in Tampa.

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