Hasek back in form; Red Wings down Canucks
A fluke goal has given the Detroit Red Wings a new life in the 2002 playoffs.
Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom scored from the red line with 25 seconds remaining in the second period to deflate the upstart Vancouver Canucks and help give his team a 3-1 victory in this Western Conference series.
It was a huge win for the Red Wings, who travelled to Vancouver after losing their first two games at home and finally won a game in April.
For Vancouver, who put on a miraculous run to the playoffs, it was their first loss in 12 games.
The Red Wings will get a chance to tie the series on Tuesday (10:30 p.m., ET, CBC).
Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan also scored for the Wings, while Vancouver forward Todd Bertuzzi supplied Vancouver's only goal on the night.
"They scored some weird goals in the first two games, we got a break on the second goal tonight," Yzerman told CBC.
Lidstrom broke a 1-1 tie when he got his goal in the dying seconds of the second period.
The puck was teed up at centre and appeared to be on end. It fluttered like a knuckleball before it went under goalie Dan Cloutier's glove.
Goaltender Dominik Hasek was far from dominating in Games 1 and 2, but he put in a much better performance on Sunday, making a beautiful save on Ed Jovanovski in the third period and then turning aside a Bertuzzi penalty shot with three minutes left in the game.
"Dom can win you hockey games, he's proved that throughout his career," said Yzerman. "He was there when we needed him tonight."
His opposition in nets, Cloutier, was outstanding for 39 minutes and 25 seconds, but gave up that crucial goal to allow the Red Wings a chance to get back into the series. He finished with 22 saves.
It was a scene reminiscent of those magical 1982 and 1994 Stanley Cup runs as the Canucks took to the ice in its first home playoff game of the series.
GM Place roared to life as the players skated around the ice in preparation for puck drop. It was truly an electric scene as the noise reached deafening levels and the crowd waved white towels in appreciation of what the Canucks accomplished in the first two games of this series.
Heading back home with a 2-0 lead and playing in front of a loud and rabid crowd can lead some players to do a little too much at the start of the game, but that wasn't necessarily the case as the team stuck to the game plan until Brendan Morrison was called for holding.
That provided the Red Wings the opening they needed to strike first, as Yzerman, playing through a painful knee injury, lightly brushed Cloutier, picked up the puck, skated behind the net and then potted it in for his second goal of the playoffs.
That silenced the GM Place crowd, but it finally roared back to life in an exciting second period.
With Darren McCarty in the box for hooking, Vancouver set up for a faceoff just inside the Detroit blue line. In a set play, Andrew Cassels passed the puck to a streaking Todd Bertuzzi on the right side of the ice. The Detroit defence didn't pick up on the play, so Bertuzzi skated in all alone on Hasek and backhanded a beautiful shot just under the cross bar to tie it.
Although the momentum clearly swung in Vancouver's favour with that goal, the team was supported by Cloutier, who was making a habit of frustrating the Detroit offence. Particularly Sergei Fedorov.
Cloutier will be in Fedorov's nightmares for the next few days.
The netminder was absolutely spectacular for the first half of the game, as he nabbed Fedorov's shot from just inside the hash marks and then made the save of the night when he reached back on a breakaway and put his paddle down to rob the forward of another sure goal in the second period.
While Cloutier has been making a habit of the odd miraculous save and the best player in this series, he let in a fluke goal that silenced the crowd and sent the team back to the locker room shellshocked.
With just 25 seconds remaining in the game, Lidstrom took a clearing shot on net with the intention of making a line change. In a scene strangely similar to the Belarus' goal against Sweden's Tommy Salo in the Olympics, Cloutier didn't get a good read on the shot and it went over his left pad for the game-winning goal.
The Canucks failed to recover and the Red Wings made a potential rally difficult for them in the third period when Brendan Shanahan took a wrist shot that beat Cloutier between the legs for Detroit's first two-goal lead of the series.
But Bertuzzi finally got a chance to draw the Canucks within one when he found himself on a breakaway but was hauled down.
Referee Stephen Walkom called a penalty shot, but Bertuzzi found out why Hasek is considered the hardest goaltender to beat on the breakaway as he went for the five-hole, but failed.