Sunday, May 05, 2002

Red Wings 3, Blues 2



By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

        DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings wasted little time taking control of the game — and their playoff series with the St. Louis Blues.

        Steve Yzerman scored on the first shot of the game and Dominik Hasek made 35 saves as Detroit beat the Blues 3-2 Saturday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

        The Red Wings have won six straight games since losing the first two games of the playoffs to Vancouver. In their 2-0 win in Game 1 against St. Louis, they scored on their second shot and managed to score even quicker in Game 2.

        “It's always easier to play with the lead and it happened in both games,” Hasek said.

        Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille put the Red Wings ahead 3-0 midway through the second.

        Hasek followed up his shutout on Thursday by stopping the 24 shots over the first two periods before allowing Scott Mellanby's goal 47 seconds into the third.

        Mellanby scored again with 39.1 seconds left, after St. Louis pulled its goalie, but the Blues couldn't tie the game in the final seconds.

        “He was superb,” Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said of Hasek. “He didn't have any chance on the goals. In the first two periods, he made many, many saves.”

        The Red Wings didn't panic when they trailed the Canucks 2-0, and they're not making plans just yet for the Western Conference finals while leading the Blues 2-0.

        They're just focusing on Game 3 Tuesday night in St. Louis.

        “The third game is always a big game because either you get life, or you lose a lot of life,” Robitaille said. “For us, it's going to be important to come out real strong.”

        When Detroit leads, it can take advantage of having two Norris Trophy finalists — Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios — and strong two-way forwards such as Yzerman to help Hasek.

        “If you get the lead, it makes the other team change its game,” Robitaille said.

        Brent Johnson made 28 saves for the Blues.

        Yzerman scored 2:46 into the game after Sergei Fedorov corralled a puck that Johnson mishandled behind the net, and passed it to the front of the net to Yzerman.

        Moments after St. Louis killed its second penalty, Dallas Drake put Detroit back on the power play after punching Tomas Holmstrom. Hull made St. Louis pay for the lapse of judgment 24 seconds later.

        His one-timer put the Red Wings ahead 2-0 late in the opening period. Lidstrom earned the assist after he faked a slap shot from above the right circle and made a cross-ice pass to Hull below the left circle.

        Hasek continued to frustrate the Blues with several saves during their power play early in the second period. When Keith Tkachuk's shot was stopped by a kick save at the end of a flurry of shots he skated away with a grimace.

        “I was maybe lucky, maybe I made good saves,” Hasek said. “Of course, they were probably frustrated.”

        Detroit took a 3-0 lead midway through the second when Fredrik Olausson's slap shot was redirected in by Robitaille.

        St. Louis scored its first goal of the series when Mellanby corralled the puck behind the net and beat Hasek with a wraparound.

        The Blues pulled Johnson to add an extra attacker with 2:13 left, and it led to Mellanby's second goal.

        Notes: Before Hull's goal, St. Louis had killed all 7 Detroit power plays in the series and had allowed just one goal in 24 shorthanded situations in the playoffs. ... Hull has 174 points in 171 playoff games. ... In 32 playoff games against St. Louis, Yzerman has 37 points. ... Drake, who missed Game 1 because of a lingering concussion from the Chicago series, took penalties that gave the Red Wings power plays late in the first period and early in the second.

       



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