Wings slip by Oilers, 2-1
Draper, Schneider goals support Legace
February 17, 2004
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
Coach Dave Lewis wasn't sure how his Red Wings would come out Monday night. They had lost a big game to rival Colorado on Saturday, and here they were hosting Edmonton -- an energetic, hardworking team, but the 11th-ranked team in the Western Conference, nonetheless.
"You worry about a little bit of a letdown," Lewis said.
The Wings allowed 17 shots in the first period -- according to the statisticians, at least -- but none in the second and ended up with a 2-1 victory. They improved to 2-1 on this five-game home stand, which continues Wednesday night against Phoenix and Friday night against St. Louis.
"This whole week we're battling teams that are fighting for the playoffs, so we know they're going to come at us," center Kris Draper said. "It was a tough game out there. It was a good test."
Draper scored shorthanded in the first period, and Mathieu Schneider scored at even strength in the second, giving the Wings a 2-0 lead. Jarret Stoll responded with a power-play goal in the third.
Manny Legace made 29 saves for the Wings, Tommy Salo 24 for the Oilers.
Lewis wants to roll four lines now that his forwards are healthy, and his rotation was effective pressuring the defense.
The Brendan Shanahan-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Holmstrom line generated good chances. Except for a couple of awkward moments, Mathieu Dandenault did fairly well between Steve Thomas and Darren McCarty.
Asked if his one-game experiment with Dandenault at center would become a two-game experiment, Lewis said, "I'm going to take a look at the video and decide. But on the bench and talking after with the coaches, we liked what we saw."
The Wings appeared to catch a break about 9:50 into the first. Ales Hemsky slapped at a rebound, and Legace dived to his left and snared the puck with his glove. The question was whether Legace caught the puck before or after it crossed the line. The play was reviewed, but the video was inconclusive. No goal.
Draper scored at 13:37. Kirk Maltby battled to get the puck into the Edmonton zone, then stayed on it. Eric Brewer kicked the puck around in the left-wing corner, Maltby swiped it and sent it to the left side of the high slot, and Draper one-timed it past Salo.
The Wings lead the NHL with 14 shorthanded goals. Draper has five, ranking second in the league to Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who has seven. Maltby has three.
"I just kind of got in a good shooting spot, and I was able to let Malts do all the work and just sit there and watch him," Draper said, smiling.
Legace insisted he faced a shot in the second.
"I don't know what they're doing upstairs," he said of the off-ice officials, smiling. "Those guys, it's like giving away gold pieces."
But the Wings held an opponent shotless in a period for the first time since Jan. 24, 1996, when they did it to San Jose in the second period of a 4-2 victory.
"It was just a conscious effort to really do the job in the neutral zone and not let them get possession in our end," Schneider said. "I think we did a super job."
Schneider scored 13:19 into the second.
The Oilers had 13 shots in the third, and Stoll struck back at 14:17. But the Wings held on.