Wings Spoil Islanders’ Plans

The New York Islanders will have to wait for another day to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Red Wings, fueled by two goals from Sergei Fedorov and timely saves from Curtis Joseph, moved two points closer to top spot in the West with a 5-2 win over the Islanders in the last regular season game at Joe Louis Arena.

Fedorov opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game. Brendan Shanahan made a good pass to Fedorov flying up the middle of the ice. Fedorov split between two Islanders defenseman and backhanded a shot right through young goalie Rick DiPietro. “It was great for us to get the first goal, because those guys are fighting for a playoff spot,” Fedorov said.

Joseph maintained his team’s fragile lead after a miscue by the Wings’ defense allowed the Islanders to charge in on net. With a flying poke check, Joseph knocked the puck away, then scrambled out of the crease after it, grabbing it and covering it up near the top of the left faceoff circle to force the stop in play.

Kris Draper increased Detroit’s lead to two goals with 12:44 left in the first. Kirk Maltby centered a pass to Draper from the right boards, and Draper tipped it in from right in front of the goal crease. It didn’t look like much of a scoring chance, but DiPietro had come out of the net to play the puck away from Darren McCarty just a second before it got to Maltby, and he hadn’t quite gotten back into position to stop Draper’s tip.

The Red Wings got their first power play opportunity of the game shortly thereafter, when Oleg Kvasha was sent to the box for tripping, and Fedorov added his second goal of the night. He held the puck in at the right point on an attempted clear by the Islanders, then shot the puck on net. DiPietro was being screened by Tomas Holmstrom, and the puck deflected up and into the net.

The Islanders finally got on the board late in the period. Kvasha carried the puck into Detroit’s zone and threw it towards the net. It took a strange bounce out of Joseph’s field of vision, and Alexei Yashin was able to backhand it into the net.

The Red Wings’ second power play goal of the night came midway through the second period. Steve Yzerman sent a pass across to Mathieu Schneider at the left point, and Schneider one-timed a hard shot which beat DiPietro through the five-hole.

New York again scored late in the second period to cut their deficit to two goals. Chris Chelios was in the penalty box for holding. Yashin carried the puck over the blue line and let fly a hard shot. The puck changed direction slightly when it deflected off the stick of Kirk Maltby, and it flew up and into the net.

The Islanders weren’t able to take any momentum from the late goal into the third period, however. The Red Wings shut them down completely. “I thought we played great in the third period,” said Joseph, who only had to stop two shots during the final twenty minutes.

Luc Robitaille put the game away for good with 3:58 left to play. Igor Larionov made the onside pass which sent Robitaille up the ice on a clear-cut breakaway, and Robitaille put the puck high over DiPietro’s shoulder.

Shots on net totaled 23 for New York and 27 for Detroit. The Red Wings will close out the regular season on the road, beginning tomorrow night with a visit to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Jiri Fischer was examined by team doctors today and found to be nearly ready to go. Dave Lewis isn’t taking any chances with his young defenseman’s knee, however. Fischer will not play in either of the games this weekend, but will likely return early in the first playoff round…. Fedorov’s two goals were the 398th and 399th of his career…. The team announced today that negotiations to sign Fedorov to a new contract would be put on hold until after the playoffs. Fedorov shrugged it off. “All my focus is on hockey and finishing the season on a good note and see where we end up,” he said. “I don’t want to be the center of attention before playoffs start, I just want to do my job.” Of course, if he wants to make himself the center of attention DURING the playoffs, with plenty of scoring and excellent defensive play, who are we to argue?

Never Satisfied: Wings on Quest to Earn President’s Trophy

After coming out of New York with a huge point against the Rangers, the New York Islanders hope to take steps in securing their playoff spot Thursday night in Detroit. The Islanders need to amass only three points in their final three games to knock the Rangers out for good. They take on a Red Wings team that is also hungry for points as the season winds down. Already conquering the Central Division, Detroit needs only to win their remaining three games to win the West. Doing so would also put them into contention for their second straight President’s Trophy.

On Monday night, Curtis Joseph posted his 5th shutout of the season as the Red Wings beat up on a shaky Predators team, winning 3-0. The victory was Detroit’s 20th in the past 24 games. The Red Wings have locked up first place in the Central Division, but surprisingly are still unsatisfied with their positioning heading into the playoffs.

”We’ve been climbing the ladder the last month or so. We wanted to finish first overall. That’s still our goal.”- Detroit Goaltender Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings learned of some great news recently, as coach Dave Lewis announced that we should see Defenseman Jiri Fischer slip back into the line-up very soon. Lewis sighted Saturday’s game against Columbus or Sunday’s game against Chicago as the probable return dates. Lewis also went on to say that Fischer would not be playing in Thursday’s contest against the Islanders. Fischer went down with a knee injury early in the season in a game against the Bruins

The Islanders blew a two-goal lead in the third period against the Rangers, yet were still able to salvage an important tie. With three games left on their schedule, the Isles won’t be looking to pass up any more opportunities to solidify their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Thursday’s game against the Red Wings will provide the opportunity for the Islanders to get two more points out of the way. If they are able to accomplish just that, they will only need a tie or an overtime loss against either the Thrashers or the Hurricanes to remain in the 8th and final slot.

-Players to Watch-
New York (I): #44 Janne Niinimaa (5 goals, 27 assists)- Solid defenseman who will be looked upon to contain some of the top offensive talent in the league in Detroit.

Detroit: #20 Luc Robitaille (9 goals, 20 assists)- Scored a big goal against the Islanders this season. Maybe “Lucky” Luc will have something up his sleeve during Thursday night’s game as well.

-Out or in Doubt-
New York (I): Kevin Haller D (Groin/Out)

Detroit: Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Season Series-
Game 1:December 17, 2002- Tie 2-2

-Between da Pipes-
New York (I): #30 Garth Snow (15-16-5, 2.33 GAA, .917 GAA, 1 SO), #39 Rick DiPietro (2-4-2, 2.74 GAA, .902 SV%, 0 SO)

Detroit: #31 Curtis Joseph (33-18-6, 2.47 GAA, .913 SV%, 5 SO), #34 Manny Legace (14-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
New York (I): Six players tied with 1 point vs. Detroit

Detroit: Six players tied with 1 point vs. New York (I)

The game will be televised nationally at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.

Former Wing Osgood Traded to St. Louis

Former Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood was traded by the New York Islanders to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. The trade marks Osgood return to the Central Division, where he began his career with Detroit.

Osgood was traded to the Blues in return for defenseman Justin Papineau and a draft pick.

In thirty-eight games this season with the Islanders, Osgood has compiled a 17-14-4 record and a 2.92 goals-against average. He split playing time with Garth Snow and Rick DiPietro and spent some time out of the lineup with an injured ankle.

Osgood won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998 with the Red Wings. After backing up Mike Vernon through the 1997 playoffs, he battled through several bad goals to help Detroit to the Cup in 1998.

St. Louis has used six different goaltenders this season. Osgood will be their seventh netminder, likely taking the starting role away from Brent Johnson.

Osgood Taken by Islanders in Waiver Draft

The New York Islanders used their first overall pick in the NHL’s Waiver Draft to select Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood.

Osgood, made expendable by Detroit’s aquisition of Dominik Hasek, will join an Islanders team burdened by poor preseason performances from goalies Rick DiPietro and Garth Snow.

Should DiPierto or Snow have a turnaround, the Islanders are rumored to have already worked out a deal to send Osgood to the Red Wings Central Divison rival St. Louis Blues. The Blues currently have the young goaltending tandem of Brent Johnson and Fred Brathwaite.

The Red Wings had also left defensemen Steve Duchesne and Uwe Krupp available, but escaped without losing either.

Waiver Draft Today

Chris Osgood‘s fate will likely be decided later today when the NHL conducts it’s annual Waiver Draft via conference call.

The Red Wings were unable to trade Osgood afer he became expendable with the aquisiton of Dominik Hasek, the best goalie in the league. The Red Wings opted to protect Manny Legace as a cheaper backup to Hasek, leaving Osgood available to be picked up by any of the other NHL teams.

The New York Islanders pick first in the draft and are interested in Osgood after poor preseason performances by Rick DiPietro and Garth Snow. Central Division rival St. Louis is also interested as the Blues lack a playoff-proven goaltender.

Even if no one picks him in the Waiver Draft, the Red Wings would likely keep trying to trade Osgood because he would count against the twenty-three man roster limit.

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