For the Detroit Red Wings, it must be good to be home. The Wings traded The Globe for The Joe and the home ice was a welcome sight. Detroit played much better defensively and got some great play out of the special teams to help earn the first points of the season.
Brand new Red Wing Brad May made some quick noise with a fight against Radek Smolenak at the midpoint of the first period. That was about all of the excitement that the opening frame offered as there were few real chances on net. The best for the Blackhawks came off the stick of Patrick Kane but Osgood was square and gave very little space for the puck to go through. The best chance for the Red Wings came from Valtteri Filppula's line as Jason Williams made a great pass to Ville Leino in the low slot, right in front of Huet, but Leino couldn't get his stick on it.
Patrick Sharp opened the scoring for the game at 1:32 of the second period on a beautiful passing play from Kris Versteeg. The Red Wings killed off a difficult 1:52 of a 5-on-3 powerplay for the Chicago Blackhawks soon after the goal and were able to get a some confidence back. Nicklas Lidstrom tied the game up on a powerplay goal at 10:36 of the second. Lidstrom was looking to pass the puck from the faceoff circle across to Henrik Zetterberg but instead the pass found John Madden's skate and then the back of the net.
Did I mention there was a confidence boost from that long penalty kill? Kris Draper skated into the zone and ripped a shot just under the crossbar and above Cristobal Huet's shoulder for a 2-1 Detroit lead. Ville Leino drew a penalty and the Red Wings scored a powerplay goal 1:34 after the Draper goal. Detroit scored on a shot from outside the faceoff circle from Pavel Datsyuk that somehow made it past a Tomas Holmstrom and Cristobal Huet. Huet (or Holmstrom) got a piece of the puck and as it rolled towards the goal line, Johan Franzen tapped it past for his first goal of the year and 3-1 Detroit lead with under two minutes to play in the second period.
Jason Williams took a slashing penalty towards the middle of the third period and Chicago capitalized. Johnathan Ericsson blocked a shot with his leg and was unable to reach the bench during the attack, practically leading to a 5-on-3. Osgood stopped a shot but left a rebound that Kris Versteeg buried with ease to bring the lead down to one for Detroit. Both teams had decent chances during the remainder of the period but the best came on a late (and lazy) penalty to Niklas Kronwall. With 1:38 left in the game, the Blackhawks had a 6-on-4 powerplay as Huet was pulled but the two man advantage wasn't enough as Osgood and the rest of the Wings held on for the first win of the season.
The Red Wings were outshot 34-23 but were able to play better defense and force a lot of shots from the perimeter and the blue line, limiting quality chances to a handful. Detroit also blocked 15 shots in the contest and Lidstrom is credited with five of those. The next game is on Saturday against the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena.
MrNorrisTrophy's player of the game: Chris Osgood. Despite the 2 goals allowed, Osgood was the difference in this game as he came out sharp and looked nothing like the Osgood that we saw in Sweden. Osgood stopped 32 of 34 shots to keep the Wings in this one.