Photo of the game
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
AP Coverage of the game via the Anaheim Ducks official website.
DETROIT (AP) -The Detroit Red Wings are counting on some youngsters to play key roles this season.
So far, so good.
Jiri Hudler, a 23-year-old forward, scored the only shootout goal to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night in a rematch of the Western Conference finals.
"He's a confident player, and he's gifted," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Even though Detroit is hoping some younger players take advantage of more opportunities, it is also relying on 42-year-old goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Hasek faced just 15 shots in regulation, but was sharp enough to turn away each of Anaheim's three attempts in the shootout to seal the win in Detroit's opener.
"I think it was a very exciting game for the crowd and for everybody who was in the building, including the players," Hasek said.
But Detroit's opener drew just 17,610 fans - far from a sellout.
Several upper-deck sections had empty rows and patches of seats in the lower bowl did not have fans in them, continuing a trend in a place that boasts it is Hockeytown.
"I think it's the local economy right now," Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I think it's hurting us as well as everyone else."
The defending Stanley Cup champions seemed to be hurting physically and perhaps mentally from a travel-heavy start to their season.
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MVN Analysis of the game
The Ducks continue their tough schedule to open the 2007-2008 hockey season. After two games in London, England, the Ducks tried to ease back into North American time with a few games in the Eastern time zone. The first effort was against the Detroit Red Wings, a team itching for revenge since they were eliminated from the playoffs by the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals. Wonder if Chris Chelios will decide to shake anyone’s hand belatedly? Naaah. Me neither.
Both teams have made a few changes since the playoffs, including the transferance of Mathieu Schneider and Todd Bertuzzi from wearing the winged wheel to a Ducks uniform. Schneider sat out this game, still recovering from a broken foot. The Wings brought in Brian Rafalski to fill in the hole that Schneider left and Rafalski is paired up with perpetual Norris Trophy winner and nominee, Nicklas Lidstrom. Rafalski was on the ice for the first goal of the game. Henrik Zetterberg scored at 9:46, just :18 into the game’s first power play opportunity. Sean O’Donnell acknowledged that he was out of position and took blame for the goal.
Dominic Hasek started in goal for the Wings and Ilya Bryzgalov got the nod for the Ducks. Best moment in the period came when Chris Pronger butt checked Tomas Kopecky mid-ice, deftly knocking off his helmet and sending Kopecky to the ice. Pronger, who had difficulty with his elbows coming into contact with players’ heads during the playoffs, including a hit on Tomas Holmstrom, made sure he did not rely on any part of his arm to make the clean check.
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