Red Wings Lead Sweden to Olympic Gold

Three goals from members of the Detroit Red Wings lifted Sweden to a 3-2 win over rival Finland in the gold medal game of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games on Sunday, with Nicklas Lidstrom scoring the game-winner just ten seconds into the third period.

On the period’s opening faceoff, Finnish center Saku Koivu (Montreal Canadiens) broke his stick and left and opening for the Swedes to gain the offensive zone. Lidstrom fired a blistering long shot past goalie Antero Niittymaki (Philadelphia Flyers) for what ended up being the game’s final goal.

The Finns had opened the game’s scoring with 5:15 remaining in the first period, when a powerplay shot by Kimmo Timonen (Nashville Predators) was deflected went past netminder Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers).

Sweden got on the board at 4:42 of the second period, when Henrik Zetterberg scored on the powerplay.

Niklas Kronwall added another Swedish powerplay goal with 6:36 remaining in the period but Ville Peltonen tied it up for the Finns just 1:36 later.

After the Lidstrom goal gave Sweden the lead, Lundqvist locked down the Swedish net, making ten saves on the period.

Lundqvist finished the game with 25 saves, as did Niittymaki.

The gold medal is Sweden’s first in men’s ice hockey since 1994, when Peter Forsberg beat Canadian goalie Corey Hirsch in a shootout in Lillehammer. The Finns’ silver is their first medal since earning the bronze in 1998 in Nagano and their highest finish ever.

The Czech Republic claimed the bronze medal on Saturday, defeating Russia for their first medal since winning the gold in 1998.

Americans, Canadians Drop Second-straight

The United States and Canada each dropped their second game in a row on Sunday, as the Americans suffered a 2-1 loss to Sweden and Canada fell to Finland, 2-0. It was the second time in as many days that the Canadians were held without a goal.

Antero Nittymaki (Philadelphia Flyers) made 24 saves to lead the Finns to the win while goals came from Teemu Selanne (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) and Niko Kapanen (Dallas Stars).

With 8:46 remaining in the first period, Saku Koivu (Montreal Canadiens) beat Canadian defenseman Chris Pronger (Edmonton Oilers) in a battle for possession behind the goal. He sent a pass out to Selanne for an open shot at the goal.

Kapanen scored just minutes later when a shot by Kimmo Timonen (Nashville Predators) was tipped by Ville Niemenin (New York Rangers) off the back boards. The puck came to Kapanen for a tip in past Team Canada goalie Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers).

Even without superstar Peter Forsberg (Flyers), Sweden was able to hold off a late comeback by the United States.

Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders) made 24 saves but two goals allowed were enough to hand the Americans their second loss.

Sweden’s Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators) opened the game’s scoring at 7:50 of the first period, flipping a shot over the sprawling DiPietro.

Mike Modano (Stars) scored late in the period on a delayed penalty to tie the game but that was all the scoring the Americans would get.

At 4:22 of the third, Mikael Samuelsson (Detroit Red Wings) kicked the rebound of a shot by Alfredsson from his skate to his stick and banged it into the net for the eventual game-winner.

Canada is now 2-2-0 in the tournament and will advance to the quarterfinal round. The United States is 1-2-1 and can advance with a tie or win against Russia, a Latvian loss, or even a Latvian win in some cases.

Five Third Period Goals Spark Red Wings’ Victory

The Red Wings continued their dominance of the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena with a 6-3 victory in the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Wings were led by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk who each had two goals.

The teams skated to a scoreless first period with Wings shutting down four power play opportunities for the Flyers. The Wings also held the Flyers top line of Peter Forsberg, Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble without a shot in the period.

At 13:20 of the second period Datsyuk put the Wings on the board first. While on the power play Zetterberg made a cross crease pass to Datsyuk who was positioned just off the right post.

The Flyers tied the game at 16:45 of the second with a power play goal of their own. Gagne was left alone between the circles and put a wrist shot past Manny Legace after a pass from Forsberg in the left circle.

The Wings scored two goals in the first 46 seconds of the third period. The first came only 14 seconds in when Chris Chelios found himself alone in the right circle after Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby forced a turnover while killing off Robert Lang‘s hooking penalty from late in the second. Then Pavel Datsyuk played a give-and-go with Brendan Shanahan skating on his right and took the pass in the slot to beat Flyers’ goalie Antero Niittymaki.

The Flyers pulled within one at 4:06 with a goal from Dennis Seidenberg, taking a shot from above the left circle, which was tipped by Andreas Lilja.

Zetterberg put the Wings up by two again at 8:37. Zetterberg had misfired on a shot just left of the goal from a feed by Pavel Datsyuk in the right circle. Zetterberg then gathered the puck along the boards and banked it off the back of Niittymaki’s legs.

The Flyers again pulled within one goal of the Wings, this time by a goal from Gagne at a tight angle at 10:33. Forsberg had controlled the puck behind the net and passed to Gagne just below the left circle.

Zetterberg scored his second goal from the left slot at 11:09 of the third period off a pass from Datsyuk which was close to a mirror image of Datsyuk’s first goal in the second period from Zetterberg. Then Robert Lang added the Wings sixth goal at 14:10 off a pass from Steve Yzerman on a 2-on-1.

Each team scored on one of their power play opportunities. The Flyers had six and the Wings had four. Antero Niittymaki faced 41 Red Wings’ shots, making 35 saves, while Manny Legace made 17 saves on 20 shots by the Flyers.

The Wings next face the New York Rangers at the Joe on Saturday afternoon.

The Flyers have not won at Joe Louis Arena since November 4, 1988 … Steve Yzerman recorded his 1051st assist, passing Gordie Howe for 7th place on the NHL all-time list. Yzerman is now only 29 assits behind Adam Oates who is 6th on that list.

Four Red Wings Named to Swedish Olympic Team

The Swedish Olympic men’s ice hockey team will feature four current Detroit Red Wings when they take to the ice in February. Defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall as well as forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg were named to their native country’s roster.

Additionally, Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv was announced as the team’s third goaltender.

Lidstrom has twice before represented Sweden in the Olympics. Zetterberg was a member of the team in 2002, before his first season in the NHL with Detroit. Samuelsson and Liv will be making their first Olympic appearances.

Team Sweden’s complete roster is as follows:

Goaltenders (3)
Stefan Liv
Henrik Lundqvist
Mikael Tellqvist

Defensemen (7)
Christian Backman
Kim Johnsson
Kenny Jonsson
Nicklas Lidstrom
Niklas Kronwall
Mattias Norstrom
Mattias Ohlund

Forwards (13)
Daniel Alfredsson
Per-Johan Axelsson
Peter Forsberg
Mika Hannula
Jorgen Jonsson
Fredrik Modin
Markus Naslund
Samuel Pahlsson
Mikael Samuelsson
Daniel Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Mats Sundin
Henrik Zetterberg

Avs Power Past Wings

The Colorado Avalanche scored twice on the power play, helping them earn a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

Down 1-0 in the second period, Teemu Selanne scored while Colorado skated with the man-advantage to even the game up. Joe Sakic added a power play goal in the third period to give the Avalanche a 4-2 lead.

The Red Wings opened the scoring with a power play goal of their own with 1:16 left in the first period. Brendan Shanahan carried the puck in to the Colorado zone and held up just inside the blue line. He sent a hard pass to Steve Yzerman, who was cutting to the goal. Yzerman deflected the puck past Colorado netminder David Aebischer from the edge of the crease to give Detroit the 1-0 lead.

Selanne evened the score with 7:06 left in the second period. He tipped a wrist shot from Sakic through Detroit goalie Manny Legace‘s pads. Red Wings defenseman Mathieu Schneider dove to stop the puck from trickling across the goal line but his clearing attempt bounced off the inside of the goal post and into the net.

The Red Wings regained the lead just 4:10 later, when a hard shot from the high slot by Jiri Fischer found its way under the crossbar. Colorado countered with 28 seconds remaining in the period when Karlis Skrastins fired a shot from the left point that deflected off a Detroit stick and into the top of Legace’s net.

The Avalanche took the lead 2:42 into the third period when Alex Tanguay put in the rebound of a shot from the blue line.

Sakic’s goal came on a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot and put the Avalanche up by two goals with 9:56 remaining in the game.

Peter Forsberg added an empty net goal to round out the game’s scoring.

Legace made 25 saves on 29 shots in net for the Red Wings. Aebischer stopeed 28 of the 30 shots he faced between the pipes for the Avalanche.

A Wild Game Seven

The Colorado Avalanche joined the Detroit Red Wings in exiting the playoffs early, falling in overtime of Game Seven to the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild became just the eighth team in NHL history to bounce back from a 3-1 series deficit with two wins on the road. They defeated the Avalanche, 3-2, in Games Five, Six and Seven.

After winning Game Six in overtime just over one day earlier, the Wild stuck with the Avalanche to force the overtime period, where Andrew Brunette deked out Colorado netminder Patrick Roy and won the series.

Brunette skated down the left side of the Colorado zone after picking up the puck from Sergei Zholtok. He switched to his backhand as he skated around a sprawling Patrick Roy and slid the puck into the net.

“I was going to shoot from out, but I didn’t think I would have a great shot,” said Brunette. “I didn’t think I could beat him, so I tried to go to old faithful.”

Colorado had their chances to put the Wild away. They scored the first goal of the game 6:16 into the second period when Peter Forsberg knocked in the rebound from a Joe Sakic shot. After the Wild tied it, the Avs reclaimed the lead when Sakic one-timed a pass from Alex Tanguay past Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez while on a 4-on-3 power play with only 6:45 left in the third.

The Wild never quit. They tied the game at one when Pascal Dupuis sliped a backhander past Roy while on the power play. Marian Gaborik‘s power-play rebound goal tied the game at two with 4:28 remaining in regulation.

“We are a resilient group,” Brunette said.

The Avalanche became the second Western Conference team to be upset in the first round following the Red Wings’ four-game loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. It was Colorado’s second-straight Game Seven loss after bowing out to the Red Wings in the seventh game of the Western Conference Finals last season.

The Wild will advance to play the Vancouver Canucks, who defeated the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven of their series. The West’s other matchup will feature the Mighty Ducks and the Dallas Stars.

Spring Comes To Hockeytown

Sure, there are still patches of snow and ice on the ground, and sure, the fans walking from the parking garage to Joe Louis Arena had leftover salt crunching beneath their feet. But it was 50 degrees and sunny, the red and white jerseys were visible instead of hidden under heavy coats, the Captain was in the lineup, and there are now only eleven (that’s ELEVEN) games left before the playoffs! Better yet, the Colorado Avalanche left Hockeytown Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 loss added to their record.

The scoring was opened early in the game by Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg made a tight pass to his linemate, and Datsyuk flipped it into the net past Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche struck twice before the first period was over to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room for the first intermission. The first goal came shorthanded, as Greg DeVries sprung Steven Reinprecht on a breakaway. Reinprecht went in all alone on Curtis Joseph and fooled the Detroit goalie with a move to the right before putting the puck in high.

Rob Blake‘s goal came on a power play. He took a pass from Joe Sakic, then shot from the blue line. Joseph was screened and never saw the puck on its way through.

The second period started with an entirely different feeling to it. Detroit was completely dominant, and Colorado didn’t have much of a chance. The Wings outshot the Avalanche 15 to 4 in the second twenty minutes of play. Roy stopped 12 of the shots, but the shots from Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Igor Larionov were too much for him to handle.

“Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick! Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!” taunted the fans at the Joe, as Shanahan stuffed a pass by Fedorov into the net, as Fedorov scored on a feed by Steve Yzerman, and as Larionov turned a pass by Luc Robitaille into the eventual game-winning goal. “Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!”

Brett Hull didn’t want to be left out of the fun. He scored his 30th goal of the season, the 709th of his career, on an excellent give-and-go passing play with Datsyuk early in the third period. Datsyuk rushed up left and passed to Hull on the right. Hull passed it back to Datsyuk. Roy slid to his right, thinking that Hull’s angle to the net negated him as a threat. Datsyuk passed back anyway, and Hull scored into the empty side of the net at such a tight angle that he couldn’t have had a space any wider than the puck itself to shoot at.

Even Roy was impressed by the goal. “Let’s give them credit for that play,” he said. “He made a great pass to (Datsyuk) and he made a super pass back to (Hull), and he tapped it in. That’s one we’ll see the highlights of a lot.” Hull, characteristically, seemed prouder of his young linemate than of his own accomplishment. “That’s the way you’re supposed to play,” he beamed. “Pass the puck, and get it back.”

Derek Morris did score a power play goal for Colorado before the game was over. The Red Wings played a passing game of “keep-away” with the puck as the game wound down, causing the Avalanche to have to keep Roy in goal instead of pulling him for an extra skater. They did finally get puck control and pull their goalie out in the final minute, but Joseph was ready with some excellent saves to keep the win and tie the regular-season-series between these two teams at 2-2.

The final count of shots on net was 38-24 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next opponent is the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators. The teams will square off Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Hull’s goal propelled him past Mike Gartner into sole possession of the fifth place on the all-time goal scorers list…. Peter Forsberg left the game with a bruised leg after a collision with Dmitri Bykov at center ice. Bykov was uninjured.

Showdown in Motown

A rivalry that has revolved around a lot of blood, sweat, and few tears will once again be on display this weekend. The Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche will hook up for the final time of the season on Saturday. The Avs currently have the season series lead by a one game margin, but the Wings will be looking to even things up Saturday afternoon at the Joe.

Detroit is coming into the game with only one regulation loss since losing two in a row 15-games ago. Both of those losses came at the hands of Colorado. The Red Wings have picked up 27 out of a possible 30 points during their current stretch, and now have a 5 point advantage over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. Detroit is returning home after a 3 game western road swing that saw the Red Wings lose to Anaheim and then go on to pick up wins in both Los Angeles and Phoenix. Newly acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider donned the red and white for the first time since being traded from L.A. in the win over the Coyotes, and immediately helped to take some of the load off of Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom by logging over twenty-three minutes of ice-time.

Meanwhile, a resurgent Avalanche team now sits only 4 points behind Vancouver for the northwest division lead, and is in 4th place overall in the Western Conference. Much of their recent success can be attributed to the recent play of goaltender Patrick Roy, who after a slumping start to the season has gotten back to his expected level of performance. Colorado’s most recent game saw them beat up on the Blue Jackets 5-1. Joe Sakic netted a natural hat trick in the blowout, scoring all three of his goals in the first period.

-Player To Watch-
Colorado- #20 Bryan Marchment (D) (2 goals, 9 assists). Will the Avs’ new goon look to make his presence felt in this ongoing rivalry? You can bet on it. Called the dirtiest player in the league by many, Marchment will likely not miss his chance to take the hatred felt by both clubs to a whole new level.

Detroit- #23 Mathieu Schneider(D) (14 goals, 30 assists). The Wings’ newest d-man has no time to settle into his new home. It will be interesting to see how Schneider responds to the intensity that is always present when these two teams meet.

-Out or in Doubt-
Colorado- No major injuries to report.

Detroit- D Jiri Fischer. Even with the addition of Schneider, the Wings are still relying on the return of Fischer for the playoffs. Fischer’s presence is certainly missed in games such as these.

-Between da Pipes-
Colorado- #33 Patrick Roy (28-13-12, 2.23 GAA, .918 SV%, 3 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (28-17-6, 2.59 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Colorado- 3 tied with 3 points. #21 Peter Forsberg (1 goal, 2 assists), #23 Milan Hejduk (3 goals), #40 Alex Tanguay (1 goal, 2 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #14 Brendan Shanahan with 3 points (3 goals) vs. Colorado

The Game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.

Avs Finish Sweep of Wings in Home-and-Home Series

Powered by two disputed goals and the netminding of Patrick Roy, the Colorado Avalanche completed their two-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings with a five-to-three victory in Denver.

The Red Wings were leading at the start of the third and looked as though they might split the series before the Avalance scored twice to take the lead. They added an empty-net goal late in the period.

With Detroit leading by one eight minutes into the final period, Adam Foote beat Detroit netminder Curtis Joseph while Colorado forward Peter Forsberg was in the crease. An irate Joseph quickly turned to the referees, who ruled that the play was not reviewable and the goal would stand.

Almost five minutes later, Colorado’s Steve Reinprecht attempted a wrap-around as Joseph scrambled to the side of the net. The puck was deflected off of Radim Vrbata’s skate and Joseph appeared to make the save, but upon review the goal was allowed.

Detroit had taken the lead on two goals by Tomas Homstrom and one by Brendan Shanahan after the Avalanche opened the scoring.

At 7:31 of the first period, Milan Hejduk beat Joseph to put Colorado on the board. Three minutes later, while the Red Wings were on the power play, Tomas Holmstrom skated in on Roy and put the pick past him to tie the game.

Holmstrom got his second of the game just under a minute later, putting a bouncing puck past Roy during a scramble around the net to put the Wings in the lead.

Hejduk’s second of the game re-tied things. While Colorado enjoyed a two-man advantage Hejduk beat Joseph again and evened things up with just over five minutes left in the first period.

Shanahan gave the Wings the lead again early in the second. When a Sergei Fedorov shot got deflected to the side of the net, a wide-open Shanahan flipped the puck into the net.

Hejduk completed the hat trick with Colorado’s empty-net goal, which deflected off a Red Wing stick on the way down the ice.

Not Playoff-Level Yet, But Fine Hockey Anyway

In spite of what you may have heard, this highly anticipated matchup between the Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche did not have playoff intensity. (Sorry.) Fans remember the playoffs better than the average hockey analyst does. Even the least of the playoff games has an intensity that even the best of the regular season games cannot possibly match. This game was a treat to see, but it is nothing compared to what we will get in the spring, if all goes well.

That being said, this was a most excellent regular season game. It didn’t matter that the Avs are fighting to make the playoffs at all, while the Wings are playing to stay atop their division and gain points towards the conference lead. The old rivalry was not quite in full swing, but it was definitely there, and will almost certainly escalate as we head down the stretch towards the playoffs. The play was intense by both teams, but the Red Wings stuck to their game plan, avoided most of the defensive lapses that have plagued them lately, and came out with a 4-2 victory over the Avalanche.

Maybe Colorado was a little bit nervous to meet the Wings again, after taking the 7-0 Game Seven loss back in May. Maybe they weren’t. They couldn’t have been pleased when the Wings opened the game the same way they started Game Seven: by scoring a goal on their first shot. The Avalanche failed to clear the puck from their zone, and Darren McCarty picked it up. Adam Foote dropped down to block the shot, but McCarty got the pass away to Kris Draper streaking up the left side. Patrick Roy had been watching McCarty the whole time, and turned his head just in time to see Draper put the puck into the wide open side of the net.

The Avalanche made some scoring attempts at the other end of the rink, but Detroit’s defensive coverage was very good through the whole period. All attackers were covered, many shots were blocked, and Curtis Joseph was given a clear view of most of the shots that did manage to get through.

Mathieu Dandenault opened Detroit’s lead early in the second. He had been given a tripping penalty at the end of the first which carried over. As he stepped back onto the ice, Kirk Maltby sent a strong pass his way, and Dandenault was off on a two-on-one rush. This time Foote did take the passing lane away, but Dandenault simply took the shot, and it sailed past Roy.

The Avalanche came on much harder in the second period, outshooting the Wings by 16-4 (Detroit had a lot of shots blocked or sent wide), forcing Joseph to work hard and show some of the skill he will need if he is to be a playoff goalie in the Western Conference. After a particularly spectacular series of saves by Joseph, Peter Forsberg made what looked like a harmless play, but it wound up in the net. He got the puck from Greg DeVries in the corner, then brought it right up to the side of the net and stuffed it into the tiny space left by Joseph moving his stick just slightly out in front of him.

Dan Hinote evened the game for Colorado early in the third. Dean McAmmond sped across the blue line at center and passed left to Serge Aubin, who centered the puck. Hinote was speeding towards the net, and the puck bounced off his stick and in past Joseph.

A bad line change by the Avalanche led to their undoing. Joe Sakic passed the puck back across the blue line to Foote, but Foote’s replacement had already stepped off the bench, so Foote didn’t play the puck because he didn’t want the team to take a penalty for having too many men on the ice. In the confusion, Brendan Shanahan was able to sneak in and steal the puck. He used a pair of Colorado defensemen as a screen and wristed a hard shot between them and past Roy.

Joseph made a wonderful glove save against Sakic to keep the lead for Detroit with only 2:23 remaining. The Avalanche pulled Roy from the net, but the extra skater did not help them regain control against the Wings. Brett Hull made a strong pass across the width of the rink to Shanahan, and Shanahan put the puck into the empty net to seal the win.

Roy made 19 saves on 22 shots over the night, while Joseph made 36 saves on 38 shots. The Red Wings continue down the road towards the playoffs with a Sunday night game at home against the Northwest Division leaders, the Vancouver Canucks.

Luc Robitaille was a healthy scratch for this game, giving Sean Avery a chance to scrap with the Avalanche…. This was Patrick Roy’s 999th career game. It could have been his 1000th, but he chose not to play in Colorado’s last game. Hmm, could it have something to do with not wanting the possibility of having Brett Hull score goal #700 in that milestone game?