The Wings cemented their position at the top of league standings last night, beating Edmonton 2-0 when they only needed a single point to clinch first overall. The Oilers were unimpressive and made it easy for the Wings to get the win, even though they didn't have the best game themselves.
Manny Legace was in net last night and looked good. He was sharp when he needed to be, which wasn't often, and earned a pretty easy 7th shutout.
Don MacLean was impressive, scoring a goal in his first game as a Wing and on his fifth shift. Ken Daniels was constantly saying his name as he got involved in the play offensively. He played well enough to earn another game with the Wings, apparently. The Freep reports that Babcock has slated him to play on Thursday in Chicago. Because Robert Lang is expected to be back then as well, someone else will have to sit.
The Oilers started the game well but the Wings soon recovered and in the second minute, the Swedish line was swarming in the Edmonton zone. Just after Legace made a good save on a tip-in by Michael Peca, Mark Mowers and Kris Draper took the puck the other way on a 2-on-1. Unfortunately, Mowers fumbled Draper's pass a bit and nothing came of it.
The penalty trouble started for the Oilers at 6:52 when Radek Dvorak hauled down Cory Cross after nearly stealing the puck. The Wings were slow to set up and at times it seemed like it was actually an Oilers power play, as they put on strong pressure while shorthanded. Peca was called for tripping at 8:16, though, and the Wings got a 5-on-3 power play.
Almost immediately, Shawn Horcoff caught Jason Williams flatfooted while on a shorthanded break and nearly scored on Legace. Another point against having Williams on the point while on the power play. The Wings couldn't score with the two-man advantage but found the net at 9:46. Mikael Samuelsson sent a shot/pass to the front of the net and Niklas Kronwall, creeping up, got his stick on it, redirecting it to Don MacLean. MacLean got control of it and ripped a wrist shot past Roloson to earn his first goal as a Red Wing and putting his team up 1-0.
A couple minutes later, the Wings were back on the power play. They had a couple good shots but Roloson was coming up big and they couldn't score.
The period wound down pretty uneventfully, with the teams trading power plays but not accomplishing much. Late in the period, Manny was forced to come up big while shorthanded but he was up to the task.
The Wings began the second period short-handed but killed off the penalty without much trouble.
The game had settled down by this point, with the Oilers not looking frantic at all and seemingly content to score a junk goal to tie it up and send it to overtime later on. The Wings played along, I felt, and weren't overly impressive.
Andreas Lilja got his penalty at 6:52 but Chris Chelios and Manny Legace, in particular, killed it off well.
The Wings went back on the power play at 14:54 and had a great chance when Tomas Holmstrom sent a nice pass to Mikael Samuelsson out front but the latter sort of fanned on it and the shot missed the net.
The Oilers began to look better as the period wound down. Manny made a huge save on Dvorak at the goalline late in the period, keeping the score 1-0 Wings.
It took the Wings only 19 seconds to score their second goal of the night in the third. Kris Draper and Mark Mowers broke in on a 2-on-1, with Draper carrying. He kept the puck and ripped a shot just inside the far post with Mowers right there to make it 2-0. A good goal but a surprising one.
Two minutes into the period, MacLean and Yzerman had a good chance off the rush but they couldn't complete it. Going the other way, Manny came up big on Torres.
Kronwall and Spacek had a nice mid-ice collision just inside the zone at about 2:30 and it was followed up almost immediatley by a weak call on Pronger that gave the Wings another power play. The Oilers did a good job of killing it off, though, and seemed to gain a little momentum.
The game was back and forth for a while before the Wings were called for hooking at 7:21. Things got a little hectic but the Wings were able to kill the penalty off in the face of a good power play by Edmonton.
The Wings seemed content to sit on the lead at this point and the Oilers decided maybe it was time to play.
At 11:20, Manny stoned Ryan Smythe at the post on a play that should have been whistled dead seconds before after the puck hit the netting above the glass. The save seemed to galvanize the Wings and after that, they stopped sitting on their lead.
At 12:58, the Oilers had a glorious chance to cut into the lead but they couldn't capitalize because of a good defensive play by Kronwall. With the net wide open and Dvorak set to score a goal, Kronwall bumped him just in time to cause him to miss handle the pass and a goal was denied. Kronwall was handed a hooking penalty the play, though, which was pretty stupid.
The Oilers put on a good power play but the Wings killed it off and they couldn't take full advantage of the chance.
Late in the game, the Oilers started to swarm but not too dangerously. They emptied the net with 2:19 left but they couldn't get much use out of it immediatley as the Wings kept the puck at center and ended up forcing a faceoff. Steve Staios nailed Mark Mowers just inside his own blueline at 17:59, instantly earning the Check of the Game.
Because of the faceoff, Roloson was put back in the net but he left as soon as he could. The Wings took a penalty with nine seconds left but by then, the outcome was not in doubt and it was completely ineffectual.
The horn sounded and the Wings officially won the President's Trophy. They acted like they should havee, congratulating Manny for his shutout and then soberly skating off as though it were just another win. Now that it's entered into the books, they can forget about it and set their sights fully on their real goal, the Cup.
Next up, they head to Chicago to play the Hawks for the last time this season. The playoffs are coming, folks!
Abel to Yzerman game report