Hull Snaps Slump as Wings Down LA

Brett Hull scored his first goal in 21 games, ending the longest goal scoring drought of his career and helping the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

Hull’s goal came 3:47 into the second period as the Wings were on one of their two power plays of the game. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from inside the blue line that Hull deflected near the slot and went past Kings’ goalie Roman Cechmanek to pull Detroit back into a 2-2 tie with Los Angeles.

Detroit had opened the scoring off a faceoff 6:01 into the game. Pavel Datsyuk won the draw back to Jamie Rivers at the blue line. Rivers sent a pass to Jason Woolley who fired a shot from along the boards that was deflected into the net from the slot by Steve Thomas.

The Kings took the lead on goals just 1:30 apart later in the first period. Trent Klatt scored on the power play with 4:49 remaining in the period, deflecting a shot at the top of the crease through Detroit netminder Curtis Joseph‘s five-hole. Alexander Frolov put the Kings up by a goal after picking up a rebound and firing it over the sprawling Joseph.

Detroit regained the lead when Mathieu Schneider fired a shot from the right faceoff circle by Cechmanek 1:30 after Hull tied the game.

Jamie Rivers, who was inserted into the lineup late after Niklas Kronwall was injured in pre-game warmups, scored his first goal as a Red Wing 3:55 into the final period. Rivers picked off a pass just inside the Kings’ blue line and rifled a quick shot by Cechmanek to make it 4-2.

Another power play goal pulled the Kings back within a goal when former Red Wing Luc Robitaille deflected a shot by Joseph at the 6:15 mark of the third.

Schneider’s second goal of the game put Detroit back up by a goal with 6:08 remaining in the game and that was enough for the Red Wings to hold on for the victory.

Frolov finished the game’s scoring with 1:17 remaining in regulation. As the Kings skated with the extra attacker, Frolov swept down the left side of the ice and fired a backhand shot over the stick of a surprised Joseph for his second goal of the night.

Joseph stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings. Cechmanek made 24 saves on 29 shots between the pipes for the Kings.

Detroit is next in action on Saturday night when the Red Wings pay their first ever visit to the new Glendale Arena, home of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Hull’s 3rd Place Goal Lifts Wings over Kings

It was another milestone night for Brett Hull, and this time, the goal counted towards a win. Hull scored his 732nd career goal 1:51 into the overtime period to lift the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings and move into sole possession of third place on the all-time goals scored list, behind only Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). The Red Wings started the scoring early in the first period. In fact, they scored on their first two shots of the game. Brendan Shanahan got the crowd in the right mindset to see milestone goals by scoring his 544th career goal 2:27 into the first period. Mark Mowers made a sharp pass from behind the net, and Shanahan snapped off a shot which bounced off the left leg pad of goalie Roman Cechmanek and into the net. The goal tied Shanahan for 19th place overall with Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Pavel Datsyuk didn’t break any records with his goal, but the Los Angeles defensemen may have broken something else afterwards, by kicking themselves for leaving Datsyuk unwatched. The goal came on the power play, with Kings’ captain Mattias Norstrom in the penalty box for hooking. Datsyuk left a drop pass for Hull on the left wing side, then circled around behind the net. The Kings all seemed to be keeping an eye on Steve Thomas in the high slot, so no one was ready for Hull to thread the puck through the goal crease to Datsyuk on the far side. Datsyuk banged the puck past Cechmanek to put the Wings up 2-0.

The Kings were hardly ready to give up being down by two goals. They refused to sit back, forcing Dominik Hasek to make some strong saves. Hasek held firm until he lost his temper late in the third. Los Angeles was in the middle of a shift of sustained pressure in Detroit’s zone. In all fairness, there could have been a goaltender interference penalty against Luc Robitaille, but none was forthcoming. Hasek appeared visibly upset, and thus was not set to stop Michael Cammalleri’s one-timer off Robitaille’s pass.

The goal gave the Kings new life, but they weren’t able to tie up the game until they got a lucky break. Steve Thomas was unable to handle Jiri Fischer‘s pass along the boards in the Red Wings’ zone. Martin Straka, recently acquired from the Penguins, grabbed the puck away and took a hard shot which beat Hasek high.

The Red Wings controlled the overtime period from its beginning, however. Hull’s historic goal was set up by Jason Woolley holding the puck in at the Los Angeles blue line, stick handling around two skaters, and sending the puck up to Mathieu Schneider. Schneider made the pass across the rink to Hull, who was ready and waiting with his classic one-timer. The puck sailed up and bounced over Cechmanek for the win.

Los Angeles outshot Detroit by a count of 28-20. The Red Wings’ next game will be on the road, Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Ray Whitney started this game, but didn’t finish. He left sometime during the second period. Prior to tonight, Whitney had missed ten straight games with a strained groin…. Chris Chelios left the game with an injured right knee after colliding with Cammalleri late in the first period. Chelios tried to play a shift early in the second, but had to leave the ice.

Off to a Good Start

“We’re counting on our young guys this year to contribute more,” said coach Dave Lewis. “We think they’re ready for it.”

The younger Red Wings certainly seemed to be ready in this year’s home opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Jiri Fischer and Pavel Datsyuk both contributed goals. But, since this is Detroit, a veteran team, it took a veteran to put the game away. Captain Steve Yzerman‘s goal gave the Wings a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles.

Former Wing Sean Avery started his usual abrasive style of play early, trying to stir up some trouble with Derian Hatcher. Hatcher was too sensible to take the bait. The Red Wings came to play hockey, and play they did.

Detroit’s strong pressure in the Los Angeles zone caused Luc Robitaille to take a holding penalty against his former teammates 4:27 into the game. Detroit’s power play unit controlled the play very well. Offseason acquisition Ray Whitney did an excellent job of holding the puck in the zone against the Kings’ clearing attempts, but the Wings didn’t score until their next power play opportunity.

When Avery went into the box for tripping, the Red Wings were prepared for the man-advantage. The Kings’ penalty-killers were focused on trying to interrupt Brett Hull‘s and Pavel Datsyuk’s passing, so no one noticed Jiri Fischer sneaking towards the net. Datsyuk threaded a pass through a few pairs of legs, and Fischer one-timed the puck past Roman Cechmanek to put Detroit on the board at 10:10.

The Red Wings seemed to back off a little bit in the second period, and the Kings were more than willing to take advantage of that situation. Their shot total, a measly six shots in the first, skyrocketed to fourteen in the second period alone. Dominik Hasek looked comfortable handling most of the shots (he likes a lot of work, remember). The only one which didn’t look right was the one that got by him.

Eric Belanger shot the puck on net from the left circle. The puck bounced off Hasek’s helmet and fell towards the right side of the net. All the skaters were scrambling to grab for the puck and take each other out of the play. In the confusion, Belanger was able to circle behind the net and stuff the puck in from the right side to tie the game with 7:49 left in the second.

Detroit came out to start the third period with quite a bit more energy than they had in the second. Avery tried to start trouble then with Kirk Maltby, but then Darren McCarty drew Avery into taking his third penalty of the game. The Grind Line’s energy spread to the rest of the team, and shots on net were plentiful, but Cechmanek stood his ground.

Zigmund Palffy gave the Kings a one-goal lead midway through the third. Jozef Stumpel was held up by Hatcher, but he managed to center a pass from the left corner. Palffy was on hand to lift the puck high over the sprawling Hasek.

Nicklas Lidstrom took a hooking call with 7:38 left to play, leaving an even tighter margin of time for the Red Wings to try to get back in the game. Their hopes were fulfilled when Lubomir Visnovsky was sent to the box for tripping, and the power play unit could get to work.

The passing work was incredible: crisp, accurate, and completely out of reach of the Kings’ penalty killers. Hull passed from the top of the left circle to Whitney at the blue line. Whitney sent the puck across to Lidstrom at the right side, and Lidstrom one-timed the puck towards the net. Datsyuk tipped the puck on its way through, deflecting it past Cechmanek.

Just as everyone was about to settle in for overtime, Yzerman decided he wanted to open his 21st season in style. He scooped the puck away from the Detroit net and sent it ahead to Whitney, who was moving up through center ice. Whitney carried into the Kings’ zone, wheeled away from three defending players, and dropped the puck back to Yzerman. The Captain sent a wrist shot high over Cechmanek with less than two seconds remaining””and the crowd went wild.

The Red Wings outshot the Kings by 38 to 23 over the course of the game. Detroit’s next game will be on the road Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Los Angeles defenseman Mattias Norstrom left the game with an arm injury in the first period.

Flyers Send Cechmanek to Kings for Pick

The Philadelphia Flyers traded goaltender Roman Cechmanek to the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday, receiving a second-round draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft in return.

Los Angeles acquired Cechmanek to replace starting goalie Felix Potvin, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and will not be resigned by the Kings.

The Flyers scapegoated Cechmanek after their second-round playoff loss to the Ottawa Senators. Flyers’ general manager Bobby Clarke cited Cechmanek’s inconsistancy as the reason behind his trade.

Discussing his time in Philadelphia, Cechmanek said, “We had a couple of problems, not big problems. In the playoffs, maybe it wasn’t great, but not bad.

“It was tough for people, but for me, too. I don’t know why that was the situation. I play for fans and teammates, but the Ottawa team was very strong and they played great.”

Los Angeles general manager Dave Taylor expects Cechmanek, a 2001 NHL All-Star, to fit in well with the Kings.

“His track record speaks volumes,” Taylor said. “We feel our coaching staff will be good for him to work with.”

Cechmanek has played in 163 regular-season NHL games since being drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He has the lowest career goals-against average of goaltenders with at least 150 regular-season games in almost 60 years.

Last season, Cechmanek went 33-15-10 in fifty-eight games for Philadelphia. His 1.83 goals-against average was second in the NHL behind Dallas’ Marty Turco and his .925 save percentage was third-best in the league.

Wings’ Third Period Rally Falls Short

The Red Wings were hoping to end their road trip at Philadelphia as they began it – with a fast-paced, entertaining game, and a win, just as they had done against the Chicago Blackhawks to start their road swing. They gave the fans the high-energy, watchable game, but this time they were unable to come back from a deficit in the third period, and the Flyers took a 3-2 win.

The game started with a quick pace, each team threatening to score in the other’s end. It was Henrik Zetterberg who opened the scoring, snapping his 15 game goal drought. Mathieu Dandenault made a good interception and pass at center, and Zetterberg carried the puck into the Flyers’ zone. He deked around two defenders, lured goaltender Roman Cechmanek out of the net , then cut around and put the puck in from a tight angle 7:31 into the game.

The glow of getting the first goal of the game was shortlived, however, as the Flyers came up with an answering goal only 15 seconds later. Donald Brashear took a hard shot from the blue line. The high rebound bounced off the chest of Radovan Somik and back into the net past Curtis Joseph.

Dmitri Bykov seemed to have a target on his back all through the first period- the Flyers kept taking runs at him. Darren McCarty finally lost patience and dropped the gloves against Donald Brashear. Even though Brashear has a reputation as one of the toughest players in the league, McCarty came out on top of that fight.

The Flyers came out on top of the period, even after the momentum swing of McCarty’s fight. Boyd Devereaux lost the edge of his skate and fell as he was carrying the puck out of his own zone. Jeremy Roenick picked up the loose puck and went in. He angled around Chris Chelios, then put the puck high over Joseph.

Philadelphia increased their lead before even a minute had gone by in the second period. Eric Weinrich took a shot from the blue line which was tipped by the stick of Michal Handzus as it headed into the net.

The goal by Handzus set the tone for the second period. The Flyers did a good job of clogging up center ice, intercepting passes, and generally keeping the Red Wings from setting up very many scoring chances.

The tide turned early in the third period. Pavel Datsyuk had the puck in the Flyers’ zone and was knocked down in fronto the net. He still managed to get the pass back to Brett Hull, and Hull’s shot went in high on the far side of Cechmanek.

The Red Wings brought on the pressure after that, aided by their only two power plays of the game. The Flyers stuck to their game plan, though, and Cechmanek came through with some big saves to keep the Wings from getting on the board again.

The count of shots on net at the final buzzer was 29-23 in favor of Philadelphia. The Red Wings play next on Monday evening, when they return to Joe Louis Arena for the first of a home-and-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chris Chelios played in his first game back after missing four with a leg injury…. Brett Hull’s goal was the 697th of his career…. The starters for the All Star Game were announced during today’s game. Nicklas Lidstrom will be representing the Red Wings as part of the first defensive pairing on the Western team. Lidstrom had more fan votes than any other player in the NHL. Other Wings may also be going to the game: the non-starting lines are selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department, and those players will be announced on Thursday.

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