Lidstrom Claims More Hardware

Nicklas Lidstrom added to his hardware collection last night, claiming his second consecutive Norris Trophy at the NHL’s annual awards show.

Lidstrom becomes the first player since Raymond Bourque to repeat as a Norris Trophy winner. He beat out teammate Chris Chelios and Colorado’s Rob Blake, both previous winners.

“Just to be chosen as top three — I love it,” said Chelios, a three-time Norris Trophy winner.

Retiring Detroit coach and Norris Trophy presenter Scotty Bowman called the award the toughest trophy to win.

“This is really something special for me,” Lidstrom said.

Lidstrom plays against opponents’ top lines game in and game out, plays on special-teams units, and sees about thirty minutes of ice time a game.

“Nick is so good,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He has given us a high level of performance over an extended period of time.”

Lidstrom and Chelios are the first teammates to finish one-two in Norris Trophy voting… The Red Wings declined their team option on defenseman Steve Duchesne, he has until next Thursday to accept his player option for one year at $1 million.

Hockeytown Loves a Parade

For the third time in six years, Red Wings fans gathered along Woodward Avenue and in Hart Plaza to pay tribute to their team’s Stanley Cup Championship.

Fans gathered along the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup parade route as early as Sunday evening, getting prime seats for the celebration, which began at 11:30 Monday morning.

After rain threatened the parade early Monday morning, the weather cleared up and the sky remained clear until the celebration was over. It was the first time of the three recent championship celebrations that rain was a factor, in 1997 and 1998 their wasn’t a drop from the sky.

Perhaps the loudest cheers of the day were reserved for goaltender Dominik Hasek, who might retire in the next several days. “One more year, one more year!” fans chanted all along the parade route.

Retiring coach Scotty Bowman received the same chant, as did defenseman Chris Chelios. “One more year?” Chelios replied, “I’m gonna play three more!”

With the celebrations and the season now officially over, with all the possibilities for the summer, now one question stand out above all others:

Can we do this again next year?

BELIEVE, One More Time

It was June 13, 2002, about 11:00 pm in Detroit. A buzzer sounded inside Joe Louis Arena, barely audible over the screaming of 20,058 fans. Players in white jerseys streamed onto the ice, hugging, laughing, some of them barely able to believe they’d finally reached their ultimate goal. All over Metro Detroit, in sports bars in Royal Oak, apartments Downriver, parties downtown, whoops of joy and celebration echoed out into the cool early summer night. For the first time ever, Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, Freddy Olausson, and Steve Duchesne, deserving veterans all, hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup above their heads. And a few moments later, Sergei Fedorov brought the Cup to fallen defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and helped him lift it above his head, one more time.

The Game Five victory against the Carolina Hurricanes did not come easily. As ever, the Hurricanes played their defensive trap and played it well. Matters were compounded for the Red Wings by the NHL suspension of Jiri Fischer for a hard cross-check laid on Tommy Westlund in Game Four. Trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr was brought in to fill the spot on the blue line, in spite of the fact that he had not played a game since the regular season. Slegr was ready, however. “Everybody’s dream is the Stanley Cup, and here I’m playing in it right now,” he said.

The first period was scoreless, although the Grind Line created some scoring chances, and Luc Robitaille rang a strong shot off the goalpost. Sergei Fedorov got in all alone on a breakaway, but his shot thudded into the chest of goaltender Arturs Irbe.

The Red Wings opened the scoring early in the second period. Series star Igor Larionov made a centering pass from the right corner behind the Carolina net, and Tomas Holmstrom lunged forward to poke it in for the goal. He was being shoved down at the time, and as he landed flat on his back against the boards behind the net, Holmstrom raised his arms in celebration.

The Hurricanes had a chance to tie the game when Jiri Slegr was given a penalty for holding up big Erik Cole along the boards, but Dominik Hasek made a phenomenal save, screened on a redirected shot, and the Red Wings kept the lead.

The Wings gained a goal cushion, and the eventual game winning goal, on a power play of their own. Jaroslav Svoboda was in the penalty box for roughing, and Steve Yzerman fired a shot on net. The puck flew high, but Fedorov found it behind the net and passed it out front to Brendan Shanahan, who one-timed it past Irbe.

The Hurricanes scored their only goal of the game late in the period, on the tail end of a shortened penalty on Shanahan. Jeff O’Neill took a hard shot from a bad angle on the left wing side. Hasek was screened by Cole, and did not see the shot until it was too late. The shot was so hard and the puck was in and out of the net so quickly that the officials had to review it to make sure it had actually gone into the net.

Play in the third period went end to end, staying mainly in the neutral zone. Carolina played frantically, trying desperately to create needed scoring chances, but the chances would not come. Finally, with just a minute left to play, they pulled their goaltender in exchange for a sixth skater, but Shanahan got the puck from Yzerman, skated it to just outside the Hurricanes’ blue line, and fired a laser shot which landed solidly in the empty net to clinch the Red Wings’ third Stanley Cup in six years. The players wound down the remaining forty seconds or so. The buzzer sounded, and the celebration began. And Jiri Fischer was the first one to jump off the bench and join his teammates on the ice. In front of the net, Hasek jumped up and down like an excited child. “It’s a fantastic feeling, and I’m so happy!” he said.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the awards. The Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs went to the highly deserving Nicklas Lidstrom. And then the Stanley Cup itself, to Steve Yzerman, who took his little daughter Isabella with him to accept the award for the team.

In the middle of the revelry, Scotty Bowman dropped the revelation he’d been holding onto: “This is my last game as a coach.” He had made the decision during the Olympic Break in February, that regardless of this season’s outcome, it was the right time to retire. On top of his coaching game, having broken another of his mentor Toe Blake’s records by winning a ninth Stanley Cup, and ready to go, the winningest coach of all time.

Most of the players have indicated that they wish to return for another season. Chris Chelios and Brett Hull are especially eager to keep their skates for another year. Steve Yzerman, once he recovers from the much needed surgery on his right knee, will return to lead the team again. Dominik Hasek has not yet made a decision. The outcome of the 2002 off-season decisions will be known, eventually.

The outcome of the 2001 off-season decisions was realized tonight, as the Stanley Cup returned home to Hockeytown.

Detroit Leads Series 3-1

When a hockey writer can lead off with a glorious headline like that, why waste time trying to think up something clever? The Red Wings are starting to make up for lost time, scoring the goals that couldn’t get through the Hurricanes’ defensive trap before, and giving Carolina a taste of their own medicine by shutting them down to win Game Four 3-0 and bring a commanding 3-1 series lead home to Detroit.

The first period started just as it had in the three preceding games: tight checking and low in scoring chances. The Red Wings did have an early power play, but Carolina’s penalty killers were in fine form and did not allow the Wings to set up a scoring chance. Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe was tested by only four quality chances in the first twenty minutes, while Dominik Hasek at the other end of the rink had to deal with only three good Carolina scoring chances. The most notable of these happened just as the period was drawing to an end. Rookie Erik Cole dodged around Chris Chelios to go into the zone all by himself, but Hasek came way out of the net and dove towards Cole’s skates, stick outstretched, and took the puck away.

The Red Wings finally managed to open the scoring early in the third period. Freddy Olausson got around a Carolina defender and got the puck to Boyd Devereaux at the blue line. Devereaux squeezed past another defender and carried the puck up the right side, looking as if to shoot the whole way up, but instead he threaded a pass through to Brett Hull coming up the left wing side. Hull dropped to one knee and one-timed the shot off the goalpost and into the net.

The Red Wings dominated most of the game after that. Carolina’s best scoring chance came during a phantom high-sticking penalty to Luc Robitaille. Ron Francis had Hasek beaten, but his shot clanged off the post.

Igor Larionov added an insurance goal early in the third period. Tomas Holmstrom got the puck over to the left side boards in Carolina’s zone, then tied up the Carolina player going after it. Jiri Fischer took a few steps forward from the blue line to get to it. Fischer faked a shot, but instead passed to Larionov just at the right side of the net, uncovered. Larionov held the puck just long enough for everyone to realize what he was going to do, but not long enough that anyone could do anything about it, before flipping it into Irbe’s unguarded net.

Detroit really shut down the Hurricanes after that, lining up and preventing the puck from getting into their zone under Hurricane control. It was basically a game of keep-away, doing to Carolina what they have done to all the other teams in the playoffs. The Red Wings brought one final goal with 5:17 remaining to put the game away for good. Sergei Fedorov brought the puck across the blue line, with Brendan Shanahan following and heading for the net. Fedorov deked past Sean Hill and passed the puck between Hill’s legs, past Marek Malik, and to the outstretched stick of Shanahan. Shanahan made short work of that one, tipping the puck past Irbe for the goal.

Once again, the Red Wings outshot the Hurricanes, this time by a count of twenty-seven to seventeen. Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals will be Thursday evening back at Joe Louis Arena.

Brett Hull’s goal was his 100th career playoff goal. He is the fourth leading playoff goal scorer of all time, surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri…. Igor Larionov broke his own record set in Game Three. He is still the oldest player to have scored in a Stanley Cup Final, just two days older now….. Dominik Hasek also broke his own record, set in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals, with his sixth playoff shutout this year…. Finally, Scotty Bowman broke legendary coach Toe Blake’s record by winning his 35th Stanley Cup Finals game.

The Staring Contest

The two previous games of the Western Conference were remarkably high-scoring, considering that each team has a highly touted world-class goaltender. Game Three was the goaltending showdown that the media and fans have been looking for. The game was tied at one goal apiece as the overtime started. Patrick Roy finally blinked, and the Red Wings took a 2-1 victory to gain a 2-1 lead in the series.

The low scoring should not be completely attributed to goaltending. The Red Wings tightened down and kept better control of the game. Scotty Bowman shook up the lines a little by moving Jason Williams up to center a line with Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, and putting Sergei Fedorov in between Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. He also changed the defense slightly by making sure that Jiri Fischer and Chris Chelios would square off against Joe Sakic’s line instead of Peter Forsberg‘s line.

The “Grind Line” of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty played superbly, keeping Colorado’s first line penned in their own end for much of their ice time in the first period. The Red Wings also played a more disciplined game?this time they did not take an early penalty. The Avalanche took the first penalty, an interference call on Rob Blake, but they played a frantic penalty kill which kept the Red Wings from setting up a quality scoring play.

Draper took an interference call for the Wings a few minutes later, and the Avalanche put their power play to good use. Sakic shot the puck from the blue line, and Rob Blake tipped the puck in front of the net. It deflected up and over Dominik Hasek‘s shoulder to give the Avalanche the lead.

The second period was played more tightly by both teams. The Red Wings shook off Blake’s goal and continued to control. The defense took a more active role in trying to score, and Hasek made the big saves when he was called upon.

Detroit’s patience finally paid off 5:50 into the third period. Sergei Fedorov shot the puck from the left wing side. The rebound got away from Roy and bounced off of Greg DeVries, then off the toe of Luc Robitaille’s skate, and into the empty side of the net.

Play continued tightly until the overtime period. Then the teams unleashed their offense, and the goalies showed why they have both been considered the “greatest goalie in the world”. Hasek was especially careful to stop a breakaway shot by Chris Drury, the overtime goal scorer from Game Two. Finally, during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting minor penalties to McCarty and Adam Foote, the Red Wings put the puck past Roy.

Hasek cleared the puck up to Yzerman, who passed across to Freddy Olausson flying up center ice. Olausson fired the puck just as he gained the blue line. Roy was partially screened by one of his defensemen Marty Skoula, and could not even see the puck until it was in his net.

Detroit dominated the game in terms of shots on net; they led forty-two to twenty-one. Game Four of the Western Conference Final will be Saturday afternoon in Denver.

This is the first time this year that the Avalanche have allowed more than forty shots on net in a post-season game…. Freddy Olausson’s goal was his first playoff goal in over ten years.

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.

Onward and Upward

It was a hard-fought, high scoring game, and the Vancouver Canucks certainly were not going to let the Red Wings win it easily. Yet win it they did, with star performances from Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, and Brett Hull, taking a 6-4 victory to win the Western Conference Quarterfinal series four games to two.

Dan Cloutier has not been the same since he let in Nick Lidstrom‘s shot from center ice in Game Three. The Canucks started him in net for Game Six anyway, and the Red Wings got off to an early lead. Tomas Holmstrom scored the first goal just over a minute into the game. Igor Larionov put the puck towards the net, and Holmstrom was able to get the rebound and lift it in past Cloutier.

Larionov scored a few minutes later. Cloutier came out of the net to clear the puck away, but Luc Robitaille beat him to it and sent it out front to Larionov, who made an easy shot into the empty net. Vancouver pulled Cloutier and replaced him with Peter Skudra after that, and that shook up the Canucks enough to let them take advantage of their first power play of the game.

Jiri Fischer took a roughing penalty for retaliating against Matt Cooke who was knocking Sergei Fedorov around, and the Red Wings ran into penalty trouble. A minute into the penalty, Ed Jovanovski fired the puck from the blue line, and it bounced off the leg of Chris Chelios and down into the net between Dominik Hasek‘s legs.

Buoyed by their momentum, the Canucks scored again thirty-four seconds later. Two Canucks got going on a two-on-one towards Hasek’s net. Steve Duchesne was able to hold position and take the passing lane away, but Henrik Sedin held onto the puck, then fired it over Hasek’s shoulder and into the net.

The Red Wings played a calmer game in the start of the second period, keeping control of the puck and letting the momentum slip away from Vancouver. It paid off for them when the Canucks ran into penalty problems. The problem? The penalty went to Detroit.

Steve Duchesne went to the box for cross-checking, and Vancouver was trying to set up their scoring play, but Kris Draper got the puck away and into the Canucks’ zone. He squeezed between the boards and Jovanovski, managing to put the puck towards Skudra, as Jovanovski knocked him down into the goal crease. The puck rebounded towards center, and Nick Lidstrom skated in and put it into the net.

Just thirty seconds later, during the same penalty, the Red Wings scored yet another shorthanded goal. This time, Steve Yzerman and Chris Chelios got the puck out of the defensive zone, and up to Brett Hull, who got in all alone against Skudra. He went up the right wing side, almost to the goal line, before taking a tight angle shot that rang off the far goalpost and into the net over the sprawling Skudra.

Hull scored again before the end of the period. This one was a Detroit power play goal, while Murray Baron sat in the penalty box on a holding call. Larionov carried the puck into the zone and tapped it to his left at the blue line. Hull got the pass, took a few strides towards the goal, and unleashed a powerful wrist shot which went into the net high over Skudra’s shoulder.

Vancouver scored again in the third, just at the very end of a holding the stick penalty to Jason Williams. Jovanovski fired from the blue line. The puck hit Mathieu Dandenault, and Hasek dropped to stop it. The puck stayed free, however, and Henrik Sedin scraped it into the net.

Hull answered with another power play goal with just over five minutes left to play. Chelios sent the puck from the right point up to Larionov behind the net, and Larionov centered out front to Hull. In classic Brett Hull style, he one-timed a laser-quick wrist shot, down on one knee. The puck bounced off Jovanovski and in for the hat trick.

The Canucks weren’t quite ready to give up yet. They pulled their goalie when they gained an offensive zone faceoff with 3:30 remaining, and they were able to score. The Red Wings had a tough time clearing the puck, and Trevor Linden’s shot caused Hasek to drop down low to block. The rebound came free, and Cooke was able to get it and put it into the mostly empty net.

Darren McCarty was sent to the box for holding with 2:34 left. Skudra had to come back in for the faceoff, but edged off again once Vancouver had puck control, giving the Canucks a six-on-four advantage. Hasek made the necessary big saves, the penalty was killed off, and the series was won.

The Red Wings will begin their Western Conference Semi-Final series next week, probably on Thursday. Their opponent will be either the St. Louis Blues or the Los Angeles Kings, depending on whether or not the Kings can gain a victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game Seven of their series.

Detroit’s pair of shorthanded goals were the fourth fastest pair of shorthanded goals ever scored in the playoffs?. This was Brett Hull’s first ever playoff hat trick. It was also his twenty-second career playoff game-winning goal, second place all time. The only person ahead of him is Wayne Gretzky, with a total of twenty-four?. This is only the second time one of Scotty Bowman‘s teams has been down 0-2 in a playoff series and then come back to win. The other one was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. A good omen for the Red Wings? We’ll know for sure in about a month and a half.

Right Back In It

A frustrated Vancouver fan threw a broom onto the ice at the end of the game– no sweep for them. For the first time in the playoff series, all aspects of the Red Wings’ game came together, gaining them a 3-1 victory and cutting their series deficit to only one game.

Scotty Bowman adjusted the lines slightly, as is to be expected, scratching Jason Williams and Uwe Krupp in favor of Boyd Devereaux and Freddy Olausson. Yet all the line changes and coaching strategies in the world would do no good if the Red Wings didn’t play with the intensity they are capable of, and they knew it. The offense and defense were both strong through the first period, taking thirteen shots against Dan Cloutier and holding the Canucks to only four shots against Dominik Hasek. Cloutier was solid in net once again, but the Red Wings put one past him on a power play midway through the first.

Brenden Morrison had gone into the box for holding. The Canucks cleared the puck from the zone on the first try, but Tomas Holmstrom and Steve Yzerman carried the puck back into the zone for the second attack. Yzerman took the puck behind the net and banked it off Cloutier’s right leg pad on a wraparound shot.

The Canucks answered with a powerplay goal of their own early in the second period, on a hooking call to Darren McCarty. Yzerman wasn’t able to win the faceoff cleanly, and Andrew Cassels flipped the puck over to Todd Bertuzzi, who put the puck high past Hasek before the Wings could even spread out into their penalty killing box formation.

The Red Wings spent most of the second period killing off penalties- a great deal of time was spent five-on-three. Sergei Fedorov was sent to the box for hooking, and forty-seven seconds remained in that penalty when Hasek was called for deliberate delay of game for knocking the net off its moorings. Brett Hull went into the box to serve the penalty, and Hasek, Yzerman, Chris Chelios, and Nick Lidstrom neatly and simply handled the Vancouver power play.

Just three seconds before Hull was to step out of the box, Brendan Shanahan was given a penalty for high sticking, and Vancouver was gifted with another two full minutes of power play time. Detroit’s penalty killers continued to live up to their promise, and the game remained tied at one.

Just twenty-five seconds before the end of the period, Nicklas Lidstrom took a perfectly aimed shot on the Canucks’ net from the Red Wings’ side of the center ice line. To everyone’s surprise, Cloutier missed the puck, and the 102 foot slapshot hit the back of the net.

Brendan Shanahan gave the Wings their first two goal lead of the series early in the third period. The puck squirted free from a tangle of players and sticks along the right side boards, right to Shanahan’s stick. He positioned himself, waited, and took a hard wrist shot which just barely redirected off the stick of Ed Jovanovski and right between Cloutier’s legs.

Vancouver came back hard during the third period, but Hasek was right where he needed to be, playing once again like that goaltender who backstopped the Red Wings to the President’s Trophy, not the frustrated netminder he has been of late. Bertuzzi was awarded a penalty shot with three minutes left to go. It could have been huge for Vancouver, but Hasek got in his way and the puck stayed out of the net.

The Red Wings closed out the game easily enough when Bertuzzi was sent to the penalty box for roughing with only 1:52 to play.

Cloutier stopped twenty-three of the twenty-six shots the Red Wings sent against him during the game, while Hasek made twenty-two splendid saves on twenty-three shots. The Red Wings will attempt to even up the series Tuesday night when Vancouver hosts Game Four.

Be Patient a Little Longer, Fans

In terms of skating, passing, scoring chances, and intensity, it was the best game the Red Wings had played in quite some time. In terms of goaltending, it was?. not. Detroit lost 5-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, dropping to 0-2 in their quarterfinal series.

The Red Wings came out to start the first period with intensity. Scotty Bowman carefully matched up his top defensemen against Vancouver’s top forwards. They had two power play chances in the first ten minutes.

But the Canucks got the first goal. Brendan Morrison carried the puck into Detroit’s zone and shot it on net from the right wing side. Dominik Hasek bobbled the save, and Todd Bertuzzi was able to get to the net and tap it in, just past the midway point in the first period.

Vancouver padded their lead just over seven minutes into the second period. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski fired the puck from the blue line, and Andrew Cassels deflected it down past Hasek.

The crowd at Joe Louis Arena took matters into their own hands at that, chanting “Shoot the puck!” The Red Wings took that advice and ran with it. Pavel Datsyuk and Steve Yzerman carried the puck into the zone, and Brett Hull pressed to the net. Three Canucks cut off Yzerman’ passing lane to Hull, so without even looking, he passed it behind him to where he knew Nick Lidstrom would be coming up trailing the play. Lidstrom’s hard shot rattled into the net past Dan Cloutier.

The momentum shifted in the Red Wings’ favor on that hard-earned goal, but Vancouver took it back just moments later. Scott Lachance shot the puck in the general direction of the net from the blue line. The puck took an odd bounce off of Brett Hull’s leg and fluttered past Hasek.

The Red Wings continued their offensive pressure, keeping the Canucks on their heels through most of the third period. Yzerman brought Detroit back within one halfway through the third during a tripping penalty to Jovanovski. On a two on one rush deep in Vancouver’s zone, Yzerman carried the puck close to the net, waited for Cloutier to drop to block the expected low shot, then banked it in off of the goaltender’s hip.

The tides seemed to turn in Detroit’s favor at that point, but the Canucks got a lucky break with just under two minutes to play. Morrison, Bertuzzi, and Markus Naslund got away on a two-on-one rush, and Morrison left the drop pass for Naslund. Naslund’s shot cleanly beat Hasek high on the glove side.

The Red Wings didn’t give up– they gained an offensive zone faceoff, and Scotty Bowman pulled Hasek for the sixth skater. The attempt was useless, however, and Matt Cooke was able to send the puck down the ice into the empty net.

Detroit outplayed Vancouver throughout the entire game, outshooting the Canucks 36-20. Goaltending made the difference to give the Canucks the win.

The best-of-seven playoff series will move to Vancouver and resume on Sunday night.

This is the first time Vancouver has won back-to-back playoff games since May of 1994?. Some reminders for Wings fans: Be patient– two games does not make a series. Last year Detroit won the first two games of the quarterfinals, then gave up four straight to the Kings. They lost the first game of the quarterfinals in both 1997 and 1998, and we all know what happened in those years. We know that they have been up by three games and then lost the series, and been down by three games and come back to win. This is Hockeytown, and anything might happen.

A Sound Thrashing

The Red Wings’ recent problems against spoiler teams unable to make the playoffs were eradicated tonight, with their high-energy 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

The first goal of the game came during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting roughing calls to Darren McCarty and Chris Tamer. The Thrashers got a breakaway on Manny Legace, but Legace made the save and set up a three-on-two for his teammates. Igor Larionov, Jiri Slegr, and Brett Hull carried the puck down the ice. Some crisp passing got the puck to Hull in the Thrashers zone, and he paused just long enough to fake out goaltender Frederic Cassivi before snapping a low wrist shot into the net.

The Thrashers had two power play chances in the first period, but just as they had done all period, the Red Wings kept the puck away from Atlanta for the most part, and kept the Thrashers from making any passes to get a scoring play set up. Legace only had to face five shots in the first period, compared to the twelve that Cassivi faced.

The second period continued with the same Detroit intensity the Wings had shown in the first, leaving Atlanta scrambling to get any time controlling the puck. Mathieu Dandenault posted the Red Wings’ second tally of the night during a high-sticking double minor penalty to Yannick Tremblay. Dandenault skated up a clear path from the blue line down the middle, took Larionov’s pass from behind the net, and tapped it past Cassivi for his eighth goal of the season.

Atlanta ran into more penalty trouble when Tremblay was sent back to the box for hooking a moment later. Sergei Fedorov won the faceoff, and slipped the puck back to Hull. Hull’s first shot bounced off of Tomas Holmstrom and straight back to Hull, who wrested the second shot high and into the net. The entire power play lasted five seconds.

Atlanta tried to play with more intensity in the third period, and they were rewarded with a goal two and a half minutes in. Legace flopped down low to block Tomi Callio’s original shot, but J.P. Vigier was able to get the puck and flip it in high before Legace could return to his position.

The Red Wings answered with another goal of their own a few minutes later. Larionov made a good pass to Dandenault, who fired on net from the right wing side. The puck bounced off the leg of Jason Williams and into the net.

A fight broke out in the final minutes, when Francis Lessard attacked Chris Chelios, and McCarty followed up on Lessard. The resulting penalties- a slashing to McCarty, a roughing to Chelios, and one of each to Lessard- offset each other and did not put either team on the power play.

The final count of shots on net was thirty-two to twenty-two in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings were three for six on the power play and kept Atlanta from scoring on any of their four power play chances. The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brendan Shanahan and Nick Lidstrom sat out tonight’s game to rest minor injuries. Scotty Bowman plans to rest Lidstrom by leaving him home during next week’s West Coast road trip”¦.. The team is planning on having Uwe Krupp return to the lineup sometime during that California trip”¦.. The Atlanta Thrashers have not once beaten the Red Wings in their three seasons of existence.