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Wings finally solve Hawks

Sunday, 01.06.2008 / 7:39 PM / Game of the Night

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood stopped 19 of 20 shots as Detroit finally solved the Chicago Blackhawks with a 3-1 victory at the United Center on Sunday night.
Forty-two games into the 2007-08 season, basically the only thing the Detroit Red Wings hadn’t accomplished was a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
You can cross that off the list now, too.
Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson all scored in the first period, and Chris Osgood stopped 19 of 20 shots as the Red Wings finally solved their “Original Six” opponent with a 3-1 win at the United Center on Sunday night.
The Red Wings – who have a League-high 67 points – were 0-3-1 in four games against Chicago this season entering Sunday’s contest. But Detroit was able to capitalize against a depleted Blackhawks’ lineup that was missing seven players, including talented rookie Jonathan Toews.
“It’s a good feeling,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “They’ve really had our number this year. We had a real good start and were very aggressive with our defense jumping in. They played hard against us, but they lacked some of the guys who can hold onto and control the puck.”
Zetterberg needed just 50 seconds to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. One of the League’s top scorers, Zetterberg took a pass from Andreas Lilja and fired a shot from the slot that beat Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. It was Zetterberg’s 14th goal in 25 games against the Blackhawks.
Cleary put Detroit up by a pair with 5:54 remaining in the opening period. The Red Wings’ forward used his strength to fight off Chicago’s Patrick Sharp before jamming the puck past Khabibulin. It was Cleary’s 15th goal of the season.
Samuelsson put the Blackhawks in a 3-0 hole just prior to the end of the first period with a power play goal at 19:51. With a crowd in front of Khabibulin, Samuelsson took a pass from Jiri Hudler – who had two assists – and fired a shot from the left circle past the Blackhawks’ netminder for his seventh goal of the season.
Rene Bourque potted Chicago’s lone goal in the closing moments of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Bourque redirected Tuomo Ruutu’s blast from just inside the point past Osgood to make it 3-1.
“We always expect them to pick up their game against us,” said Osgood, who entered the game with a 1.71 GAA. “But we stayed smart tonight. We played well in our own zone and picked off a lot of their passes in the slot. That might have been the key to the game.”
The banged-up Hawks will look to right the ship on Tuesday night, when they’ll visit the Montreal Canadiens. With Chicago in danger of falling further and further out of the playoff race, Savard knows his team has to turn things around quickly.
“We’re a .500 team, but we think we’re better than that,” Savard said. “The way we started when we were healthy, we feel we can be a playoff team, and I still do. The next two or three games hopefully will get us going. As a young team, we’re fragile.”
Detroit (32-8-3) will look to make it four in a row on Tuesday night, when the Colorado Avalanche will visit the Joe Louis Arena. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was impressed with the way his team performed following Saturday’s 3-0 win at Dallas.
“We played (Saturday) night and this is a game we might have overlooked had they not beaten us four times,” Babcock said. “I thought we played a good game. We drove the net real hard in the first period and had some chances.”

Thrashers 5, Sabres 2
| Video
Thrashers forward Marian Hossa snapped out of a scoring slump by netting a pair of goals as Atlanta handed Buffalo its sixth straight loss.
In a game featuring teams headed in opposite directions, Johan Hedberg made 37 saves and Marian Hossa scored twice as Atlanta handed Buffalo its sixth straight loss.
With the victory, the Thrashers pulled to within three points of the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Southeast Division. Meanwhile, the Sabres – who have reached the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the past two seasons – have dropped six in a row for the first time in almost two years. Buffalo has scored only 10 times during the skid.       
“We’re doing things right, but we just can’t score goals,” Sabres captain Jaroslav Spacek said.
“We scored two goals, and that isn’t enough. We can play better.”
Thomas Vanek gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 6:10 into the contest on a tip-in ( 700K ), but Hossa tallied his first goal of the day roughly three minutes later following a turnover behind the net by Ales Kotalik ( 700K ).
Pascal Dupuis scored the lone goal of the second period on a wrist shot that went off the skate of Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller before crossing the goal line ( 700K ). The Thrashers took the 2-1 lead into the intermission as Hedberg stopped all 15 shots he faced in the middle frame.
“I felt out of sync,” said Miller, who made his 14th consecutive start.
Playing on the top line with Hossa and Eric Perrin, Colin Stuart gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead when he beat Miller on a breakaway just 97 seconds into the third period ( 700K ). It was Stuart’s second goal since being promoted from AHL Chicago on Dec. 28. He also added an assist in the victory.
“It was pretty exciting,” Stuart said. “It was at the end of my shift. I was going too fast to make a move, so I just took it to the far side and tucked it in on my backhand.”
Stuart’s assist came less than four minutes later, when he set up Hossa for the latter’s second tally of the game ( 700K ) as Atlanta grabbed a 4-1 lead.
“Stuart made us look good,” Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. “I thought the whole 60 minutes he was probably our best player, and that was by far our best line.”
Clarke MacArthur – who was promoted from AHL Rochester prior to the game – cut the deficit to 4-2 for Buffalo when he beat Hedberg with 10:26 to play ( 700K ), but Ilya Kovalchuk sealed the victory with an empty-net tally at 19:45. It was his 34th goal of the season ( 700K ).
Atlanta (21-21-1) returns to the ice on Tuesday night, when it plays the third of a five-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Definitely, it was a huge win,” Hossa said. “Every win is huge right now. We have a good chance to be over .500 and be a playoff team again.”

Material from wire services was used in this report.
Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

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