By Christy Hammond
The Detroit Red Wings (27-7-5) improved their winning streak to four games with a 3-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (18-18-4) at home. With the win, defenseman Chris Chelios now has the most regular season wins of any player in NHL history. Before tonight’s game, Chelios was tied with Scott Stevens at 879 wins. His 880 regular season wins have come as a member of the Montreal Canadiens (220), Chicago Blackhawks (309), and Detroit Red Wings (351). Congrats to Cheli on an impressive record.
Tonight’s game was the first time this season that both Detroit and its opponent have been held scoreless in the first two periods thanks to the excellent performances of both goalies. Ty Conklin was named first star of the game and was certainly the reason Columbus didn’t grab an early lead in the game. He made 13 saves in the first two frames of action including a huge save on Michael Peca, who appeared to have a wide open net during a Columbus power play. Conklin told reporter Dave Dye at The Detroit News that he was surprised when he made the save:
“I was surprised that I actually had time to get over there,” Conklin said. “I certainly wasn’t watching it into my glove. Just throwing something out there and you get lucky sometimes.”
Conklin’s 23 saves earned him his eighth career shutout and his fourth of the season. The shutout win was his second straight at home as the Wings shutout Chicago on December 30th.
The Blue Jackets’ goaltender, 20-year-old Steve Mason, had a great game in net with 23 saves in the first two periods and a total of 37 saves in the game. It’s easy to see why he is quickly becoming the second most popular player in Columbus behind captain Rick Nash. Speaking of Nash, the team’s leading scorer suffered a lower body injury when he went hard into the boards near the end of the first.
The Wings finally scored 3:45 into the third period on the power play when Pavel Datsyuk made a cross ice pass to captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom then fired a shot at the net from just above the faceoff dot and Tomas Holmstrom redirected the shot in the crease. Unfortunately for Mason, he allowed the rebound and Datsyuk quickly pounced on the opportunity sending the puck into the empty upper corner of the net.
Just over two minutes later, Datsyuk and Lidstrom teamed up to assist Marian Hossa with his first goal in nine games dating back to December 18th. Hossa flung the puck from the top of the left faceoff circle and (with the help of Holmstrom screening down front) sent the puck behind Mason for Detroit’s second power-play goal of the evening.
Henrik Zetterberg sealed the Detroit victory on an empty netter with just 30 seconds remaining. It was Zetterberg’s first goal since December 13th. Normally, I wouldn’t have much to say about an empty net goal, but Datsyuk’s play to get the puck to Zetterberg certainly merits our attention. The great pass made by Datsyuk did not come via his hockey stick, rather Datsyuk made a slick pass with his skate and a kicking motion. Datsyuk had just lost his stick at the blue line, but that wasn’t going to stop him so he kicked the puck far enough ahead of the Columbus player and in Zetterberg’s skating lane to get the assist. I guess all the soccer “practice” before Wings games has really paid off!
The Wings stay in Detroit for home games against Dallas (Thursday) and Buffalo (Saturday) before heading off on a six game road trip over a stretch of 15 days.