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Red Wings muscle their way past Edmonton

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- The Red Wings call “The Joe” home, but the Edmonton crease took a close second on Monday night.

Chris Chelios was the first to score one from the doorstep. With Edmonton goaltender Dwayne Roloson playing snow angel amidst the 90-degree heat outside of the arena, Chelios found a loose puck in front and banged once, twice, three times before finding space behind Roloson late in the first to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.

“It’s just shoot and follow,” coach Mike Babcock said. “(Assistant coach) Paul MacLean talks about that all the time. Roloson’s a good goalie, but it came off of him a few times and Chelios was able to finish.”

The usual crease suspect had his say next. Tomas Holmstrom outmuscled defenseman Matt Greene while poking the puck past Roloson to give Detroit a 3-2 lead just 27 seconds into the second period. Detroit would not relinquish the lead and remains unbeaten at Joe Louis Arena (2-0).

The Wings opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first. Dan Cleary bobbled the puck along the left boards, but it didn’t matter — Mikael Samuelsson grabbed the puck and surprised Roloson on a wraparound to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.

After Chelios built the lead to two, Edmonton responded off the ensuing faceoff. Former  Michigan State Spartan Shawn Horcoff was left all alone on a three-man rush. Finishing a tic-tac-toe passing play, Horcoff picked the right corner past Dominik Hasek’s glove to cut the lead in half.

Holmstrom’s goal returned Detroit’s two-goal lead. The Wings have converted 27.7 percent of their extra-man opportunities through its first three games.

In the dying seconds of the middle frame, a familiar face to Detroit hockey fans got Edmonton back in the game. Rookie Andrew Cogliano leapt off the bench on a late change, and snuck into the Wings zone. Joni Pitkanen found him on the far side for an easy tap-in, cutting the Detroit lead to 3-2.

“We gave up one exactly like that in Chicago where the ‘D’ pinches up in the neutral zone,”  Babcock said. “We have a rule here that the ‘D’ doesn’t pinch up — they gap up. We’re not going to do that anymore. It puts you in a bad spot. It got them back in a game that I thought
territorially was going our way.”

The goal continued a three-game point streak for Cogliano. The former Michigan forward had his parents and old Wolverine teammates in attendance at the Joe.

Detroit outshot Edmonton 23-12 through two periods, but held only a one-goal lead. But unlike Saturday when the Wings blew a third-period lead against the Hawks, Detroit held off the Edmonton attack and Kris Draper added the empty-netter with 32.9 seconds left.

GAME NOTES: The win matched the Wings’ total against Edmonton last year (1-3-0) … It was Chris Chelios’s 1,550 game, moving into eighth place on the all-time games played list, passing former Red Wings' captain Alex Delvecchio. Detroit hosts the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night at The Joe.
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