It was the 6-1 red hot Rangers coming into Detroit to face the Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings who held a mediocre 2-1-1 record. Both teams showed up to play and turned out one of the most exciting hockey games of this season. At first it seemed to be devloping in to a one-sided affair, with the Wings capitalzing on the Rangers' slow start with two goals in the first four minutes.
The first goal of the game came only 28 seconds into the match, as former Ranger Mikael Samuelsson deflected a Derek Meech shot past henrik Lundqvist. The Detroit dominance continued, as Johan "Mule" Franzen crashed the front of the net and knocked in Valteri Filpulla's rebound at the 3:44 mark of the first period. The new Drury line, consisting of wingers Lauri Korpikosky and Markus Naslund were victimized for both goals, and struggled the entire night. The Rangers were on thin ice quickly but the two quick goals served as a wake up call and the team began to play like they had for the first 7 games of the season.
It took only four muinutes for the rejuvinated Rangers to answer. Scott Gomez, who was the best player on the ice for the entire night, dug out the puck from the left corner and fed Ryan Callahan in the slot for a wrister that beat Osgood high glove side at the 7:32 mark. The period of very offensive hockey, no penalties and a 15-8 Detroit lead in shots, ended with the Wings leading 2-1.
The second period started with more offensive hockey as the two original six teams traded scoring opprtunities to no avail during the first ten minutes of the frame. After
Lundqvist robbed Marian Hossa in front of the net, the Wings set up in the offensive zone. Nicklas Lidstrom's shot from the point was deflected past Lundqvist by Tomas Holmstrom with 9:03 left in the period, giving detroit a commanding 3-1 lead. However, the Rangers were determined to get back in the game and began sending defensemen depp into the offensive zone to generate scoring. After dodgin a few bullets on odd-man-rushes, the rangers got back in the game, as defenseman Marc Stall pinched in along the right wing boards and got the puck to Gomez in the corner. in an almost identical play to the first goal, but on opposite ends and sides of the ice, Gomez fed Dawes in the slot who rocketed a wrister past Osgood. The rangers continued with pressure throughout the period but could not capitalize until the third period.
The final regualtion period began with a Red Wings power play that the Rangers killed exceptionally well. That was followed by a flurry of opportunities in the Detroit zone, the most glorious one coming with Aaron Voros getting the puck behind Chris Osgood less than a foot from the goal line and somehow pushing it wide. Voros got redemption on the same play as he deflected a Michal Rozsival shot off Osgood stick and into the net for the equalizer less than two minutes in. At the 3:59 mark, Voros struck again with a bank shot off Osgood from behind the net that caused Wings fans everywhere to shove pencils in their eyes. But Voros took what he could get and celebrated by banging on the glass and insulting the already injured Wings fans. Joe Louis Arena would get the last laugh, though. After a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty on the Rangers that could have gone either way, the Wings set up for a final run at the game. A Nicklas Kronwall pass bounced off the skate of Wade Redden in front and right to Jiri Hudler. Rangers broadcaster Joe "Deaf, Dumb and Blind" Micheletti proclaimed that Lundqvist had no time to react to the shot, but everybody else watching saw Lundqvist dive to his right and get a piece of the puck with his glove, almost making a save for the ages. Almost, unfortunately, only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades and thus, the hockey game was tied and headed into overtime.
There is a feeling of anxiety that grows with every passing second of overtime.
By the time two minutes have past, you are standing up and groaning with scoring chance. For the second consecutive Rangers game that was decided in OT, that feeling never came. In fact, the same man who ended the Rangers' season in April was there again only 23 seconds in after Pavel Datsyuk took Wade Redden to school twice within 5 seconds and fed Marian Hossa for the game winning tip-in.
For the Red Wings it was a strong game that showcased their offensive firepower. For the Rangers, it proved that they can play with the league's best and that this young team has the ability to play comeback hockey in the second game in two nights on the road. This is something to be proud of if you are a Rangers fan, and further validates their superb 6-1-1 record to start the year.