The Detroit Red Wings brought 41-year-old goaltender Dominik Hasek back in the offseason hoping he would anchor the team's defense. If Hasek can duplicate the success of his last outing on a regular basis, the move will appear quite wise.
Hasek and the Red Wings look to build on their first win of the season when they face the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.
Hasek, a 14-year veteran, is in his third stint with Detroit. Injuries have limited him in his last two seasons - which included 43 games with the Ottawa Senators last season - but the Red Wings (1-1-0) are hoping a healthy Hasek can recreate his success from 2001-02, when he helped lead Detroit to the Stanley Cup.
After allowing all three goals in Detroit's 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in last Thursday's season opener, Hasek needed only 13 saves to record his 69th career shutout, 2-0 over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
"I can't say it's the easiest because last year I had one with 12 shots (against Montreal)," said Hasek, who is 4-6-4 with a 2.49 goals-against average in his career against the Coyotes. "But we played very well on defense. I had to stay sharp because it was only 1-0 for 59 minutes and one goal can mean everything."
Johan Franzen scored in the first period for Detroit, the game's only goal until Kris Draper's wrist shot found the back of the net from the right circle with 1:21 left to play.
"Whenever you lose a game like we did, you want to go out the next game and do all the little things well," Franzen said. "That's exactly what we did. We needed this win to us going."
The offense is trying to regroup following the offseason losses of Steve Yzerman (retirement) and Brendan Shanahan, who signed with the Rangers as a free agent. If the Red Wings cannot match their conference-leading 3.72 goals per game from last season, the Nicklas Lidstrom-led defense becomes more crucial.
Team captain Lidstrom and the rest of the Detroit defenders have held their first two opponents to a combined 30 shots on net. They now look to take advantage of a struggling Phoenix offense.
After a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders last Thursday, the Coyotes (1-2-0) have managed to score only one goal in each of their losses, including a 5-1 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Ed Jovanovski scored the lone goal for Phoenix, which was 0-for-9 on the power play and is just 3-for-26 with the man advantage in its first three games.
"It was just a mismatch tonight. They embarrassed us," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Half the game we played pretty well, and it was a game up to that point. Then they took right over. They kept skating, they played smart. We tried to get through everybody and got stripped of the puck countless times."
The team also lost defenseman Keith Ballard, is expected to miss up to five weeks after fracturing his right hand. Rookie Keith Yandle has been called up to replace him in the lineup.
Ballard had an outstanding rookie season in 2005-06, finishing second among Coyotes defensemen with 31 assists and 39 points.
This is the second game of a four-game roadtrip for Phoenix. The Coyotes and Red Wings split their four meetings last season.