Grind Line on the Move!

The war to win the Western Conference is on. The Red Wings won the first battle. The fans contributed octopus missiles. And Darren McCarty was the star of the game, scoring his first hat trick ever to give the Red Wings a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.

The game, their first since defeating the St. Louis Blues a week ago, got off to a slow start for the Red Wings. The Avalanche still had momentum from their Wednesday night victory over the San Jose Sharks, and they were able to score the first goal of the game. Brendan Shanahan was called on a questionable interference penalty, and the Avalanche got to work. Joe Sakic got the puck from Adam Foote and managed to squeeze in between both Chris Chelios and Nick Lidstrom and beat Dominik Hasek with a quick wrist shot.

The Red Wings answered with a power play goal of their own late in the period. Mike Keane had been sent to the box for goaltender interference. Tomas Holmstrom went to the front of the net to screen Patrick Roy. Shanahan took a shot on net from the left point, and Holmstrom attempted to deflect it. He was knocked down, but the rebound came back to him, and he put it into the net while sitting on the ice, with 1:12 left in the period.

The second period was tighter for both teams. Hasek held off an assault by the Avalanche in the middle of the period, but kept them out of the net until only 6:24 was left in the period. Sakic, Alex Tanguay, and Milan Hejduk got away on a three-on-two rush. The rebound from Sakic’s shot came free to Tanguay, and he passed across the goal crease to the wide-open Hejduk, who put it in the net.

Detroit tied the game back up just a few minutes later. Pavel Datsyuk and Boyd Devereaux carried the puck in on a two-on-one rush. Datsyuk got the rebound from his own shot and fired again. The puck bounced off the goalie again, but Brett Hull came in all alone trailing the play and put the rebound high past Roy.

The third period was all Detroit. Darren McCarty gave the Red Wings their first lead of the game less than two minutes in. Chelios got the puck out from a scrum along the boards and sent it ahead to McCarty. McCarty waited for Foote to drop in an attempt to block the shot, then blasted the puck past Foote, off of Roy, and into the net.

The Red Wings had to kill off a boarding penalty to Luc Robitaille, which they did neatly. The Avalanche never got a chance to set anything up on that one. Time began to dwindle down for Colorado, and they got caught in Detroit’s zone, allowing McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Jiri Fischer to get away on a three-on-one rush. Fischer stepped back to keep Peter Forsberg from getting back to defend, and McCarty looked llike he might pass across to Maltby but instead fired hard from the right wing side. The puck went in just over Roy’s shoulder.

Roy got caught behind the net trying to settle a shot in by Sergei Fedorov, and thus was out of position to stop McCarty’s third goal. The puck came free to Maltby, who threw it on net. Roy threw himself in front to block the shot, but McCarty was right there to get the rebound and flip it over the sprawled goaltender.

Tanguay did score once more for the Avalanche during a cross-checking penalty to Fischer, and Colorado did pull Roy from the net to send in the extra attacker, but by then it was too late. The Red Wings had shaken off the cobwebs from their week off, and the game was over.

The final shots on net were thirty to twenty-seven in Detroit’s favor. Game 2 of the Conference Final will be Monday night at the Joe.

Patrick Roy has an alarming 9-0 record in playoffs for the game immediately following one in which he has given up five or more goals. But if anyone can snap that streak, it would be the Red Wings?. Jason Williams was in for Igor Larionov once again. Scotty Bowman stated that Larionov was getting ready to return soon, after recovering from a sprained knee?. Steve Yzerman told reporters he was glad to see Darren McCarty score his hat trick. “Believe it or not, Mac has pretty good hands…and we may never see that again!” he laughed after the game.

Snowballing the Avs

The Red Wings came back hard from a slightly shaky first period to dominate the game and defeat their archrivals the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1, in front of 20,058 ecstatic fans at Joe Louis Arena.

The Avalanche opened the scoring 3:39 into the game. Marty Skoula picked up the rebound from a shot by Milan Hejduk, and fired it past Dominik Hasek to take an early lead.

Colorado tightened up its defense for the rest of the period, making it difficult for the Red Wings to get control of the puck in the offensive zone. Most of the shots on net were blocked by the Avalanche, and those that got through were easily blocked by David Aebischer, playing in net for Patrick Roy who was sitting out to recover from the flu.

The second period was a different matter. The Red Wings opened up their offense, as well as shutting down any offense Colorado might have tried to muster. Shots on net were twelve to three in favor of Detroit in the second period alone. Aebischer continued to come up huge, stopping strong shots from Brendan Shanahan and Luc Robitaille, not to mention a shorthanded two-on-one breakaway chance by Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull.

It was rookie Pavel Datsyuk who put Detroit on the scoreboard. Greg DeVries was sent to the penalty box for hooking. The power play got off to a slow start, but the Red Wings did manage to set up the scoring play. Igor Larionov took the puck behind the net and passed out to Datsyuk at the right side. Datsyuk shot the puck into the tiny space between the goalpost and Aebischer’s left armpit to score his first NHL power play goal and tie the game.

The Red Wings continued their offensive pressure into the third period. Three minutes in, Todd Gill was the last man back in the Colorado zone, attempting to clear the puck. Larionov poke checked it away from him to get a breakaway chance. He cut to the right to fool Aebischer, then quickly flipped the puck into the net on the left side.

Detroit scored again less than two minutes later. Darren McCarty sent a breakout pass from the Red Wings’ zone up to Yzerman at neutral ice. Yzerman and Shanahan took off on a two-on-one, Yzerman passed left to Shanahan, and Shanahan ripped the one-timer past Aebischer.

Having a sufficient lead, the Wings began to concentrate on the defense, keeping the puck in Colorado’s zone, but not making any plays that could risk turning the puck over to the Avalanche. Colorado managed to carry the play just enough into Detroit’s zone to pull Aebischer in favor of the sixth skater with a minute and a half left to play, but the Red Wings effectively kept the puck away from the Avalanche until the final buzzer, gaining their thirtieth win of the season.

Hasek stopped thirteen of the mere fourteen shots he faced during the game, while Aebischer managed to stop thirty-two of the thirty-five he was shelled with. The Detroit defense was effective enough to keep Colorado superstar Joe Sakic from getting any shots against Hasek at all.

The Red Wings will play next Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Patrick Roy’s ‘A’ Game

The first meeting of the season for what is arguably the biggest rivalry in the Western Conference went down as a loss for the Red Wings, as they were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Avalanche opened the scoring only thirty-two seconds into the game. Milan Hejduk fished the puck loose from a struggle in the low left corner, then carried it out front and flipped it past Dominik Hasek. Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay received the assists on the goal.

Colorado used the momentum from such an early goal to continue dominating the play. They took a two-goal lead on the power play, when Jiri Fischer was in the penalty box for tripping. Marty Skoula passed the puck up to rookie Radim Vrbata, who one-timed a shot past Hasek.

The Red Wings were not prepared to give up so early, especially to Colorado, and Steve Yzerman began to lead his team in applying offensive pressure, taking four shots against Patrick Roy among the Wings’ total of thirteen for the period. Even so, it was Sergei Fedorov who got Detroit on the board with 11:42 left in the first. Brendan Shanahan left the pass, and Fedorov carried the puck right across the crease and fooled Roy with a quick backhand shot.

The Avalanche had three power play chances in the second period, but Detroit’s penalty killing was very well-organized and kept the puck in Colorado’s zone through most of their short-handed play. However, Colorado did score the only goal of the second at even strength. Steve Reinprecht was able to pick up the rebound from Vrbata’s shot and slide it past Hasek, who was being screened by Chris Drury.

In the third period, Colorado accepted their lead and switched focus from offense to defense to keep the Red Wings from bringing the puck into their zone. Despite two well-organized power play opportunities on Detroit’s part, Roy was able to turn each shot aside and keep the Wings from scoring again.

Rob Blake clinched the win for the Avalanche with only 3:30 left in the game. Sakic passed cross-ice to Blake as he skated up the right wing side, and Blake was able to fire the puck between Hasek and the goalpost.

Hasek stopped only fourteen of the eighteen shots he faced. Roy was able to stop twenty-nine of the thirty the Red Wings put up against him.

Hasek stopped only fourteen of the eighteen shots he faced. Roy was able to stop twenty-nine of the thirty the Red Wings put up against him.

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