Friday, April 02, 2004

Wings 3, Blues 2

The Blues came into the Savvis Center trying to secure their 25th consecutive playoff birth with a win, but fell short in the Wings' 3-2 win tonight. Marc Lamothe got the start, giving Manny Legace a rest after he played last night in the Wings' 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets. Despite the Wings' uncharacteristically low shot total of 12, the Wings managed to make the best of the scoring chances they were provided by Blues defensive breakdowns. The Wings locked up the Presidents Trophy with the win, earning home ice throughout the playoffs. In the first period, the Blues came out strong, heavily cycling the puck on the Wings. But the Blues had two defensive breakdowns in their own zone, leading to Wings goals. Boyd Devereaux opened the scoring at 6:32, assisted by Chris Chelios. Even though it is April Fool's Day, I kid you not. Boyd scored a goal. On the play, the Blues failed to clear the zone and Chelios got off a point shot. Devereaux ended up with the puck on his stick, and, as Ozzie fell to the ice in desperation, Boyd roofed it for his sixth of the season. 1-0 Wings. Steve Thomas scored at 12:46, assisted by Brett Hull. On the play, Hull backpassed to Thomas, who let one rip from the right circle, beating Ozzie on a bad angle. 2-0 Wings. The play came after a nearly costly Chelios turnover, in which he passed the puck into the Detroit crease with Blues traffic in front. Early in the period, there was heavily pressure on Lamothe, with the Blues cycling the puck on the Wings, playing in a power play mode with the teams at even strength. Ex-Wing Dallas Drake played really hard, getting a few good chances on Lamothe and hustling across the ice. Midway through the first, the Blues went with a 1:4 defensive lock, which kept the Wings to only six shots to the Blues' 10. But defensive breakdowns cost the Blues big-time, as the Wings had two goals on four shots, capitalizing on every scoring chance in the first. At 8:31, Lamothe made a great save on Pavel Demitra pointblank, his best save of the period. No penalties were called in the first. In the second period, the Blues again shut the Wings down offensively. Mike Sillinger opened the scoring for the Blues at 1:52, assisted by Chris Pronger and Jamal Mayers. On the play, the Blues won the offensive face-off and Pronger let loose a point shot, with Sillinger chipping the puck over Lamothe's left pad short side. 2-1 Wings. Just over a minute later, Brian Savage followed up the goal at 3:05, assisted by Scott Mellanby and Doug Weight. On the play, Lamothe had just made a save when Derian Hatcher fell on him and the puck squirted loose, Savage cleaning up and shoveling it in. 2-2 tie. I wouldn't fault Lamothe with these goals. At 7:00, Lamothe made a huge stand with pressure in front of the crease, as two Blues players chopped at his pads for a rebound. With four minutes left, Nicklas Lidstrom thought he had a goal when he telegraphed a point shot top corner, but the puck just cleared the top of the net. A minute later, Jamie Rivers made a great play on defense with a Blues' 3-on-1, poke checking the puck-handler and disrupting the rush. The Wings had two shots in the second, scoring on the later with a pretty wrist shot from Ray Whitney at 17:58, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg and Chris Chelios. On the play, four Blues players were cramped in near Ozzie, and Ray faked a slap shot and walked right in, uncontested, letting loose a laser-guided wrist shot near the left circle, his 14th of the season. 3-2 Wings. It was a bit more chippy period than the first, with the Savvis Center crowd getting back into the game with the score tied early on in the second. Shots in the period were 5-2 Blues. In the third period, the Wings held on as the Blues fought to tie it up. At 1:30, Demitra hit the left goal post with Lamothe beaten. Lamothe made a stand for the rest of the period. With around four minutes left in the game, Doug Weight hit the outside of the left goal post as Lamothe was sprawled on the ice. The referees let everything go in the third, only calling Brendan Shanahan for interference at 16:27. This gave the Blues a power play with just over three minutes left in the third. Marc Lamothe was strong as the Blues skillfully cycled the puck on the power play and got a few good chances. The Blues had a terrible final minute of the game. As they were trying to get Ozzie pulled, they had a bad line change, delaying Ozzie getting to the bench until thirty seconds left. And they didn't even get the extra man on for a good ten seconds. Shots in the period were 13-4 Blues. Finals shots 28-12 Blues. Although the Wings lacked much of an offensive attack the entire game, they capitalized on the few chances they got. There are very few teams in the league that would've beaten the Blues tonight with only 12 shots, but the Wings have such a deep skill level that they are able to do this. I am very disappointed that the Wings allowed the Blues to cycle on them all night long and put so much pressure on Lamothe. But it was nice to see Lamothe play so great with the call-up. With one game left in the season, and the home ice advantage locked up, Legace needs to get back in there and the Wings need to rest who needs to be rested. Quote of the Game:
"He perspires profusely"
--Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels speaking of Wings goaltender Marc Lamothe, who often goes through three water bottles a period. Notables: Schneider is eight in scoring for defensemen with 46 points, and is +22 on the season....Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond made the call on FSN....It was Marc Lamothe's fourth NHL start, and his first win as a Wing....1979 was the last time the Blues missed the playoffs; that's 24 consecutive playoff births....Ozzie is 1-7-2 versus the Wings....Lang, Draper, Legace sat out....With Brett Hull's assist on the Thomas goal, he has never failed to get a point in a game when facing up against Chris Osgood....Darren McCarty turned 32 years old today.....Brett Hull leads the Wings with 42 assists (not counting Robert Lang)....Mike Kitchen has a 9-6-4 record with the Blues....Goal scorers Sillinger and Savage were trade deadline acquisitions for the Blues....The last time the Blues have been to the Cup Finals was 1970, when they lost to Boston. Bobby Orr scored the winning goal of the series in game 4, making for the most famous picture in NHL history, "The Goal." ...Jiri Fischer was the 25th overall pick in the 1998 draft, and the Blues had the 24th pick, passing up Jiri....Hull's #16 will be hung in the Savvis Center rafters tomorrow....Chelios is on a 4 game point streak....Boyd Devereaux has two goals in two games....The Wings clinched their 4th Presidents Trophy since 1995 with the win tonight....The three stars of the game were Marc Lamothe, Ray Whitney, and Christian Backman of the Blues....There were only four minutes of penalties called tonight....Chris Osgood had 9 saves on 12 shots, a .750 save percentage.....The Wings are 8-1-1-1 in their last eleven decisions against the Blues. (Editor: Here are the lines from last night's game, courtesy GWB) Shanahan-Yzerman-Whitney Devereaux-Williams-Holmstrom Maltby-Zetterberg-McCarty Thomas-Datsyuk-Hull Hatcher-Chelios Lidstrom-Schneider Fischer-Rivers Lidstrom-Chelios Fischer-Schneider No PP PK- Zetterberg-Maltby Shanahan-Yzerman Lidstrom-Chelios Hatcher-Schneider Net- Mark Lamothe


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