-- It was considered a Detroit home game here at the Ericsson Globe and the Swede-heavy Red Wings had the sellout crowd on its side throughout the late-starting first game of the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere-Stockholm.
Too bad the St. Louis Blues
spoiled the party.
Paul Kariya scored twice and B.J. Crombeen had the other as the Blues showed the same fight and resiliency they had in the second half of last season when they shocked the NHL by making the playoffs as the sixth seed in the West after being dead last on Feb. 12.
"There is no give up in this team, that's for sure," said Kariya, who watched from the sidelines last season as the Blues went 19-7-3 over the final two months of the season. "We got off to a horrible start (Friday) because I think we were a little hesitant in the first period, but we calmed down toward the middle of the second and started to play our game."
The Blues scored first on a goal by Jay McClement 7:54 into the game, but Jonathan Ericsson, Kirk Maltby and Ville Leino gave the Wings a 3-1 lead 7:17 into the second period.
"They were schooling us is what it's called," Blues coach Andy Murray said.
"We had them bent real good," added Wings coach Mike Babcock.
"Then we started to play like we know we can, the way we did in the preseason and the way we finished last year," McClement told NHL.com. "We just have to keep that up for all three periods."
One and a-half was enough on Friday as the Wings struggled with turnovers and a disjointed power play. They were 1-for-5, but failed to score 1:36 of a 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period and only capitalized in the final 10 seconds of Alex Steen
's double-minor for high sticking early in the second.
Leino scored off the rush with a snap shot from the left circle that Blues' goalie Chris Mason told NHL.com he had no chance at stopping."Did we score on the power play?" Babcock asked rhetorically in his post-game press conference. "Yeah, we got one, and it was on a line rush. They made a couple of decent saves and blocked shots, but we could have won the game on the power play. I thought our penalty kill was real good tonight, but the bottom line is you have to score on that 5-on-3 and I didn't think we got much done in the first half of that 5-on-3."
The Blues started their five-minute and five-second barrage with their only power-play goal in four chances. Kariya's low wrist shot beat Wings goalie Chris Osgood on the stick side 12:31 into the second period."I just tried to get it on net and obviously B.J. did a good job," McClement said. "Those are the goals our line has to score this year. We're not going to score a lot of pretty ones, so we have to get it on net and hopefully get second opportunities."
Just 2:08 later, McClement, the center on the Blues' fourth line, drove the net and put the puck on Osgood, who left a juicy rebound in front -- and since nobody checked out B.J. Crombeen, the sturdy winger was able to jam it in to make it 3-3.
Kariya, making the most of his second opportunity after multiple hip surgeries last season, broke the tie just 2:57 later when he got in alone on Osgood and beat him with a deke to his forehand and a shot low to the stick side.
Todd Bertuzzi turned the puck over in Blues' defensive zone and Darryl Sydor was able to slap it all the way up ice toward Kariya and T.J. Oshie, who had just come on the ice. Kariya broke past Henrik Zetterberg as Oshie tapped the puck up to him. He came in alone on Osgood with Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski trailing the play.
"If you go through the scoring chances like I just did, they didn't have that many -- but we gave up some beauties," Babcock said. "That Kariya breakaway goal in the second period; when you're trying to put your D on and off the ice, you just can't do that. It comes back to haunt you. We did it a few times and the puck ended up in our net. You can't play defense on a turnover. It doesn't work like that."
Roughly 5:30 into the third period, Detroit had a fantastic chance to tie the game but Mason came up with the save of the night, stoning Johan Franzen by sprawling across the crease and getting enough of his catching glove on his shot to direct it away from the net.
Pavel Datsyuk slotted the puck across to Franzen after making an absolutely stunning move to get around Blues defenseman Erik Johnson, who admittedly was taken aback by the inside-outside razzle-dazzle from the Wings' Russian center. Franzen whacked a one-timer toward the net, but Mason would have none of it.
Franzen skated away, down the left wing wall, cursing at himself for the missed chance.
"It's not an ideal situation when you have Datsyuk with the puck," Mason said. "He made a great play and I think it just actually nicked my glove and went off the side of the post. It's a little bit of fortune, but I'll take it."
--Dan Rosen, NHL.com