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Wings strike first, defeat Blackhawks 5-2

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Apparently Dan Cleary really enjoyed the spotlight from his series winning goal against the Ducks. The one-time first round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks led the charge for the Detroit Red Wings tonight, scoring two goals, as the Wings downed the Blackhawks 5-2 to take the first game of the Western Conference Finals.

Despite the win, the early going was anything but easy for the Wings. Chicago came roaring out of the gate, dictating a speedy and physical pace that the Red Wings didn't seem prepared to match. The 'Hawks early pressure would pay off when a Chris Osgood pass deflected off of Jonathan Ericsson and right onto the stick of Adam Burish, who slipped it through Osgood's legs. However, Cleary would answer back less than three minutes later, when he wristed home an unassisted goal from the left side of the ice.

The second period would show how intense this series is shaping up to be, as the action went back and forth, with the teams trading momentum throughout the frame. Late in the period, Johan Franzen would steal the momentum for the Wings, stealing a pass behind the net and slipping a wraparound shot between the legs of Nikolai Khabibulin to give the Wings a 2-1 lead at the second intermission.

That lead wouldn't last, as Kris Versteeg would chip a rebound past Osgood on a 'Hawks power play, tying the game at the 3:12 mark of the third. But it would be the resilient Wings bouncing back less than five minutes later, when Mikael Samuelsson scooped up a loose puck in the slot, skated to the right circle, and ripped a wrister past Habibulin to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. Less than two minutes later, Cleary would add some insurance, when he tipped a Johan Franzen shot past Khabibulin, giving him his second tally of the night. Henrik Zetterberg rounded out the scoring, netting an empty net goal with under a minute to play to wrap up the 5-2 win.

Chris' Red Wing of the Game

Dan Cleary

Cleary's two goals were obviously big, but it was his first goal that jump started a lethargic Red Wing team and got the squad mentally focused and back to competing.


Dan Cleary

#11 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings

6-0

210

Dec 18, 1978


Game 2 is at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night. The puck drops at 7:30 PM and you can catch the action on Versus.