YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Red Wings Cautious, Not Overconfident

Hockey: They're happy to be up 2-0 in Western Conference series, but they're not counting out the Ducks.


DETROIT — Another tight game, another overtime, another mob of Detroit Red Wings pouring over the boards to celebrate a sudden-death victory.

But the party broke up quickly Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena--not because this is getting to be routine for the Red Wings, but because they had been playing since early Sunday afternoon.

Taking almost 5 1/2 hours to subdue the Mighty Ducks, 3-2, in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series didn't leave the Red Wings with much energy to savor the moment.

By game's end, they looked more like marathon runners struggling to cover the race's final miles than hockey players.

"To not have won that game would have beaten us down," Detroit left wing Brendan Shanahan said after the Red Wings took a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series. "We've got to store this game away and prepare for the next one. We've played two games, we've won two games, but we've got to get ready for the third game."

It might be a chore.

Maybe it was the length of the battle just fought. Or perhaps a newfound sense of respect for the Ducks. But the Red Wings refused to say they had seized control of the series after Sunday's triple-overtime victory.

"We're only two games up," said Vyacheslav Kozlov, who put an end to Sunday's game with a quick shot from the right faceoff circle 1:31 into the third overtime. "We need to win a couple more games. I know it's very difficult to play in Anaheim, but I think we can win out there."

Kozlov had excellent scoring chances throughout Games 1 and 2, but nothing clicked until the Red Wings went on the power play early in the third overtime.

"I didn't see it go in the net," Kozlov said of his third goal of the playoffs. "It's a great feeling. It was a relief."

The Red Wings dominated the overtime periods but couldn't squeeze the puck by goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov. Stick save, pad save, chest save, shot wide, shot off the goalpost--33 shots in overtime and nothing to show for it.

Later, Shanahan said he was worried the Ducks might weather the Red Wing onslaught and counter with the game-winning goal.

"The scary thing is in overtime, the team with the most chances often doesn't win," said Shanahan, who assisted on Doug Brown's third-period goal that gave Detroit a brief 2-1 lead. "Sometimes the other team will get one good chance and win it. We deserved that game. We outplayed them in OT. The guys were doing all the right things."

But until Kozlov's goal, they couldn't rid themselves of the Ducks. Shift after shift, the Red Wings flew in relentless waves at the net. The frustration mounted, but never overwhelmed the Red Wings.

"It was hard just sitting on the bench, hoping the puck would go in," winger Kirk Maltby said.

Added winger Steve Yzerman: "You get to the point where every single play is so important."

Kozlov's game-winner rescued the Red Wings and put them up, 2-0, in the series.

"It was probably an exciting game to watch," Shanahan said, managing a faint smile. "Exciting because we won."

Los Angeles Times Articles