Friday, May 03, 2002

The Dominator is back

Red Wings 2, Blues 0

Associated Press Writer

Detroit Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek watches as a shot bounces off the post.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        DETROIT — Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek credited defense and a little luck for Detroit's win.

        He neglected to mention his own part.

        Hasek wowed the Joe Louis Arena crowd with many of his 23 saves as the Red Wings beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 Thursday night in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.

        It was the seventh playoff shutout for Hasek, a six-time Vezina Trophy winner still looking for his first Stanley Cup.

        “They tried to be physical, but my defense did a very good job in front of me,” Hasek said. “Twice on the power play, I think they hit the post. I was very lucky.”

        Brett Hull and Pavel Datsyuk scored for a Detroit team that played with much more focus than the one that dropped the first two games of its first-round series with Vancouver. The Red Wings rallied to win four straight in that series to earn a date with the Blues.

        “The first game in the (Vancouver) series, the bounces didn't go our way. Tonight they did,” Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said. “They had some shots from the point and some of them hit the crossbar or the posts, and that's what happens.”

        Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

        The Red Wings beat the Blues in their first three regular-season meetings, but St. Louis won both ends of a home-and-home series April 13-14. Those were the Blues' first regular-season wins over Detroit in nearly two years.

        St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said his team could have used some of the intensity shown by Detroit.

        “I'd like to see a little more of an attitude to start the game. I didn't mind how the last part went,” he said of a last-minute brawl triggered after the Blues' Keith Tkachuk bumped Hasek. “I think the game finished up with a little more emotion, and I think that's what we've got to play with from start to finish.”

        Three players from each team drew 10-minute misconducts for the fight.

        Bowman and Quenneville said the referees told them they didn't see contact between Tkachuk and Hasek, but Detroit captain Steve Yzerman saw it differently.

        “We thought clearly that he got hit,” Yzerman said. “Every goalie in the league, whenever they get touched they all go down like they're dead, so you never really know.”

        This is the teams' first playoff meeting in four years. The Red Wings ousted St. Louis in three consecutive series ending with the conference semifinals in 1998, the year they won their second consecutive Stanley Cup. The Blues have not taken a playoff series from Detroit since 1991.

        Detroit took a 2-0 lead with 56 seconds left in the second period on Hull's second shorthanded goal of the playoffs.

        With Sergei Fedorov off for slashing, Hull carried the puck in from deep inside his own zone with Steve Yzerman trailing down the right side. Hull's wrist shot dribbled off the leg of goalie Brent Johnson, but he hit the rebound into the net for his fourth playoff goal.

        “You don't really set up to score shorthanded goals,” Yzerman said. “They just kind of happen. But certainly that's a big goal for us.”

        The Red Wings opened the scoring at 12:20 of the first on Datsyuk's first career postseason goal. Datsyuk took a rebound off the sideboard, skated between two defenders to the inside of the left faceoff circle and flipped the puck over Johnson's left shoulder.

        “He made a good shot. It was on his stick and off really quick,” Johnson said. “He didn't have it on his stick for a second.”

        Datsyuk, scratched from the last two games of Detroit's series against Vancouver, led the Red Wings with seven points in the five regular-season games against St. Louis.

        “We're glad for him because he has struggled with his confidence,” Hull said. “The playoffs are different. The pressure is immense.”

        Notes: Johnson, the grandson of Red Wings Hall of Famer Sid Abel, is 1-4 lifetime against Detroit. ... Datsyuk's was the first first-period goal allowed by the Blues in six playoff games.Hull and Nicklas Lidstrom are on three-game scoring streaks. ... Yzerman has 36 points (16 goals-20 assists) in 31 playoff games against St. Louis and 161 points (64-97) in 161 career playoff games.


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- The Dominator is back
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