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Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues

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GAME: Detroit Red Wings (1-0-0) at St. Louis Blues (0-1-0).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EDT.

Two weeks ago the Detroit Red Wings weren't sure if they would have Pavel Datsyuk on their roster. One game into the season, they're certainly glad they do.

The flashy Datsyuk will try to lead the Red Wings to a season-opening home-and-home sweep of the St. Louis Blues as they meet at the Savvis Center.

On Wednesday, Datsyuk scored 95 seconds into the game and assisted on another goal several minutes later as the Red Wings beat the Blues 5-1.

Datsyuk returned to Detroit last week and signed a $7.8 million, two-year contract after threatening to stay home and play in Russia for a second straight season.

"That's why we wanted him back," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said after making his debut behind the Red Wings' bench. "He showed why a lot of people think he's one of the top young players in the NHL."

"I'm happy to be back in Detroit," Datsyuk said.

Despite his late arrival, Datsyuk didn't look rusty and seemed to mesh well with his teammates.

"The same players play," he said. "I didn't come to the camp, but it's the same team."

Datsyuk had 30 goals and 68 points in 75 games in 2003-04.

"It's a good start, not only for me, but for the team."

The Red Wings won despite playing without captain Steve Yzerman, who missed the season opener with a groin injury and is not expected to play Thursday. Back for his 22nd season, Yzerman leads all active players with 1,721 points.

Patrick Lalime allowed four goals on 24 shots before the Blues replaced him with Reinhard Divis midway through the second period.

"They have a good team, but we showed them too much respect," Lalime said.

Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider, Mikael Samuelsson and Brett Lebda also scored for the Red Wings, who still seem to have a lot of talent despite having to cut their payroll almost in half because of the NHL's $39 million salary cap, a result of the lockout that cost last season.

St. Louis, meanwhile, is dealing with changes of its own. The Blues traded star defenseman Chris Pronger to Edmonton, allowed forward Pavol Demitra to leave as a free agent and legendary defenseman Al MacInnis retired.

"It's a new world," Lalime said.

Eric Brewer scored the lone goal for St. Louis.

STANDINGS" Red Wings - 2 points, 1st place, Central Division. Blues - 0 points, 3rd place (tied), 2 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - 5 players with 1 goal; Tomas Holmstrom, 2 assists; Datsyuk and Holmstom, 2 assists; Brendan Shanahan, 19 PIM. Blues - Brewer, 1 goal; Petr Cajanek, Scott Young, 1 assist; Brewer, Cajanek and Young, 1 point; Andy Roach, 6 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS): Red Wings - Power play: 14.2 percent (1 for 7). Penalty killing: 100 percent (6 for 6). Blues - Power play: 0.00 percent (0 for 6). Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (6 for 7).

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Manny Legace (1-0-0, 0 SO, 1.00 GAA); Chris Osgood (no record). Blues - Lalime (0-1-0, 0, 7.50); Divis (0-0-0, 0, 2.14).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 5; Red Wings, 5-1. At Detroit, Legace had to make only 13 saves, including just three in the second period.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 0-0-0 on the road; Blues - 0-0-0 at home.


Associated Press

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