Congratulations, Scotty Bowman!

The Red Wings gave Scotty Bowman a gift before leaving for the Olympic break: their 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild was Bowman’s 400th win as Detroit’s head coach.

The first period went quickly- there were few stoppages in play and only one penalty stop for a pair of offsetting roughing calls on Tomas Holmstrom and Jason Marshall. Both teams had quality scoring chances, but goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Dwayne Roloson kept the game scoreless.

Both the Red Wings and the Wild allowed shorthanded scoring chances during the few penalties in the second. The first goal of the game, though, came at even strength, with just over three minutes left in the second period. Luc Robitaille carried the puck low into the Minnesota zone and passed it behind the net to Steve Yzerman. Yzerman angled a pass in front of the net to Kirk Maltby, who slapped the puck past Roloson.

The Wild made very little attempt to outplay the Wings in the third, even though they were down by only one goal. Aside from some Minnesota breakaways notable only because of the great saves Hasek made to keep the puck out of the net, Detroit controlled the play.

The Red Wings put the game away with 2:38 left to play. Yzerman carried the puck from the left corner back towards the blue line, then sent a superb pass across the rink right to the stick of Mathieu Dandenault. Dandenault lifted the puck high and sent it into the net past Roloson.

Rather than risk the Wild pulling their goaltender and possibly sending the game to overtime with the aid of a sixth skater, the Red Wings kept tight control of the puck in center ice and in the Minnesota zone, and got the win to carry them into the Olympic break.

Shots on net were twenty-four to twenty-one in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ will resume the season on February 26, when they go to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A total of eleven players from Detroit’s active roster, along with one prospect, will be representing their teams in the Olympics: Chris Chelios and Brett Hull for the USA, Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan for Canada, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, and Pavel Datsyuk for Russia, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Freddy Olausson, as well as prospect Henrik Zetterberg (currently playing in the Swedish Elite League) for Sweden, and Dominik Hasek for the Czech Republic. This is more Olympians than any other team in the NHL.

Hasek’s fourth shutout of the season is the sixtieth of his career, making him the shutout leader among active goaltenders. Center Brent Gilchrist, placed on waivers to make room in the lineup for rookie Sean Avery, was taken today by the Dallas Stars. Manny Legace did not back up for this game due to a strained hip flexor; the backup goalie position was filled by Jason Elliott.

Rested and Ready for the Old Rivalry

The Detroit-Colorado rivalry may not be what it used to be, having changed over the years from an intense hatred to a strong, if wary, respect. But it still brings out the best play in both teams, and even far away in Denver, there are Red Wings fans who will throw an octopus onto the Pepsi Center’s ice to celebrate a 3-1 Detroit victory.

The Red Wings were well rested from their long weekend, and it showed in their eagerness to play. Detroit controlled the play through most of the first period. Colorado goalie Patrick Roy had to be sharp to keep the puck out of his net. He succeeded, stopping all twelve of the shots he faced through the first twenty minutes. Dominik Hasek responded in kind at the other end of the ice, stopping seven Avalanche shots to keep the game scoreless through twenty minutes.

The Avalanche scored early in the second period. Brad Larson centered the puck from behind the net. It bounced off Jesse Wallin‘s stick, and Scott Parker poked it into the net.

The rest of the second was all Red Wings, taking twenty shots to Colorado’s four. Darren McCarty got Detroit on the scoreboard midway through the period. Sean Avery won the faceoff in Colorado’s zone, and got the puck back to Kirk Maltby, who passed along the blue line to Jesse Wallin. Wallin fired and Roy deflected the shot, but McCarty was well-placed to gather up the rebound and slap it into the net.

McCarty wasn’t done raising his team’s momentum. As is appropriate in a Detroit-Colorado game, he got into a fight. Rick Berry had hit Igor Larionov with what McCarty viewed as unnecessary roughness, and McCarty was not willing to let this go unchallenged. The linesmen broke up the fight and sent both combatants to the penalty box for five minutes.

Avery followed suit before too long, scrapping with Dan Hinote over an interference penalty to Wallin. The fighting majors to Avery and Hinote offset each other, but Wallin’s initial penalty gave the Avalanche a two-minute man advantage.

It did them no good whatsoever. The two Colorado defensemen attempted to pass the puck to each other along Detroit’s blue line to set up a play, but Kris Draper intercepted the pass and broke out of the zone, getting halfway down the ice before the Avalanche realized what had happened. Draper’s initial shot on net was turned away by Roy, but Maltby came trailing the play and sent the rebound over Roy’s right arm to put the Red Wings in the lead.

The Avalanche came back hard in the third period. Detroit concentrated on their defense, but still needed Hasek to make several dazzling saves, and he seemed happy to oblige them. The Red Wings took total control of the game in the last minute, keeping Roy from edging out of the net to let the sixth skater into the play. When Colorado finally got the puck into Detroit’s end, Chris Chelios made a simple poke check to get it away. Nick Lidstrom sent it down the ice on a nicely centered clearing shot which went directly into the empty net, to the delight of the octopus-bearing Red Wings fan.

Shots on net wound up thirty-four to twenty-four in Detroit’s favor, and neither team was able to score on the power play. The Red Wings will return home to face the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Joe.

Jesse Wallin’s assist was his first career NHL point. Steve Yzerman expects to be recovered from his knee surgery in time to play with the team against Montreal on February 11, giving him two games with the Wings before the Olympic break.

Passing a Legend

Bobby Hull, the great “Golden Jet,” was among the 20,058 fans at Joe Louis Arena to see two of his scoring records broken and watch the Red Wings defeat the Washington Capitals, 3-1.

Detroit opened the scoring just under two minutes into the game. Kirk Maltby shot the puck from the left point, and Luc Robitaille was in just the right spot to tip it past goaltender Olaf Kolzig to score the 611th goal of his career, moving him past Bobby Hull’s record as the highest-scoring left winger of all time.

Washington did not increase the intensity of their play, but they got their chance when Chris Chelios was sent to the penalty box for interference. Adam Oates passed across the rink to Peter Bondra, wide open on the right side. Bondra took the shot, and it went into the net over Dominik Hasek‘s left arm only thirteen seconds after the power play’s start.

The rest of the game belonged to the Red Wings. Brett Hull scored the eventual game winning goal forty-six seconds before the end of the period. Pavel Datsyuk passed from behind the net to Hull waiting in front of the net with the blade of his stick down on the ice. The pass went right to the stick and into the net behind Kolzig.

The second period was scoreless, in spite of three power plays for the Red Wings and one for the Capitals.

Detroit scored once more midway through the third period. Sergei Fedorov, playing forward again after being on defense for several games, took a pass from Robitaille. Fedorov sent it out front, attempting a centering pass to Kirk Maltby. The puck apparently had other plans. It bounced off the Washington defenseman’s stick, to one of Kolzig’s leg pads, and into the net.

The Capitals brought Kolzig to the bench with over a minute and a half remaining to play, but even with the extra skater, the Capitals were never quite able to get into a scoring position against Hasek.

The Red Wings outshot Washington thirty-four to seventeen. Detroit’s next game will be Sunday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Sean Avery was sent back down to Cincinnati of the AHL to make room on the roster for Fredrik Olausson, back from injured reserve. Brett Hull’s goal was the ninety-ninth game winner of his career, putting him alone at third place on the all-time list of number of game winning goals scored. With whom was he tied at ninety-eight? None other than his own father, Bobby Hull.

Never Leave A Game Early

The puck simply bounced the right way for the Nashville Predators, who came from behind to beat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.

The offensive play of both teams seemed evenly matched in the first period, but it was the Red Wings who took a one-goal lead into the intermission. Max Kuznetsov recovered the puck after overskating it slightly in front of his own net, and passed it up the ice to Brett Hull. Hull passed over to Boyd Deveraux, who left the puck for Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk deked past two Nashville defensemen to shoot the puck past goalie Mike Dunham.

The second period was scoreless, despite two power plays by Detroit and three by Nashville.

Sean Avery and Vladimir Orszagh got into a fight with just under eight minutes left in the third period, and were given offsetting minor penalties for roughing. During the resulting four-on-four play, Kris Draper got the puck out from a tangle of players along the boards in the Nashville Zone, and passed to Kirk Maltby. Maltby fired on Dunham from the right circle. The puck bounced off Dunham’s leg pad, off a Nashville defenseman’s skate, and Maltby was able to grab it back and slide it underneath Dunham.

Vitali Yachmenev was able to bring the Predators within one with 4:20 left in regulation play. He attempted to make a centering pass from behind the Detroit net, but instead, the pass deflected off of Sergei Fedorov‘s stick and into the net past Dominik Hasek.

Nashville’s golden opportunity arose when Tomas Holmstrom was sent to the penalty box for closing his hand on the puck. Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan did get a two-on-one shorthanded breakaway opportunity, but Dunham was able to block both shots, and the Predators regained control.

Nashville pulled Dunham in favor of the extra skater, giving them a six-on-four advantage, and Orszagh was able to flip in the rebound from a blue line shot by Petr Tenkrat, sending the game to overtime.

Andy Berenzweig scored the game winner with 2:20 left in the overtime period. Orszagh fished the puck out from a tangle on the right side of the boards, and passed it out front. Berenzweig grabbed it up and flipped it in over Hasek, before Mathieu Dandenault could get back to stop him.

Hasek stopped thirty-two of thirty-five shots during the game. Dunham stopped twenty-six of twenty-eight. The Red Wings will play against the Minnesota Wild Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Plenty of Goals For All!

Even with Steve Yzerman out of the game with a badly bruised foot for a projected one to two weeks, the Red Wings still have plenty of offense and defense to go around. The Columbus Blue Jackets learned this the hard way, going down 5-1.

Mathieu Dandenault took an early lead for his team 7:02 into the first period. Lyle Odelein sent the puck around his own net trying to keep it away from the Red Wings, but Dandenault got to it and shot it towards the net. The puck bounced off a Columbus defenseman’s skate, off the back boards, and straight back to Dandenault’s stick. He was then able to slide the puck under goaltender Marc Denis.

The Blue Jackets tied up the game just a few moments later. Grant Marshall shot the puck at Manny Legace from the right point. Legace flopped down to blocked the shot, but the rebound slipped away, and Michael Sillinger was able to snatch it up and flip the puck into the net.

Luc Robitaille regained the lead for the Red Wings six and a half minutes before the end of the period, while Rostislav Klesla was serving a minor penalty for elbowing. Brendan Shanahan put the puck on the net, and Tomas Holmstrom tried to tip it in, but the puck came free to Robitaille at the left side, and he sent it into the net behind Denis.

The second period was all downhill for the Blue Jackets, as the Red Wings scored twice to increase their lead. Just over five minutes in, Brett Hull and Pavel Datsyuk got a two-on-one breakaway. Hull passed left to Datsyuk, and Datsyuk faked to the left to lure Denis, then stuffed the puck in on the right side.

Columbus’s woes increased when Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Lidstrom carried the puck in front of the net and left the pass for Shanahan, and Shanahan sent a quick wrist shot flying past Denis to become the first Red Wing to reach the twenty goal mark this season, making this the fourteenth consecutive season in which he has scored twenty or more goals.

The Red Wings essentially wrapped up the game early in the third period, in the last second of a penalty to Lyle Odelein carried over from the end of the second period. Lidstrom fired a hard shot from the blue line, and rookie Sean Avery tipped it into the net, to score his first NHL goal.

Columbus attempted to play harder and score again, but the Detroit defense was able to keep them away from the net, and Legace stopped any shots which came near him. The game ended with Legace having stopped twenty-seven of twnety-eight shots, and Denis having stopped twenty-eight of the thirty-three he was bombarded with.

The Red Wings will next travel south to Nashville to face the Predators on Friday night.