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Hasek stellar again as Red Wings blank Wild

Dec 2, 2006 - 3:55 AM ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- The Detroit Red Wings entered as the stingiest team in the NHL during the third period. Dominik Hasek was just as miserly over the first two sessions.

Hasek made 20 saves for his 72nd career shutout and Daniel Cleary scored the only goal necessary as the Red Wings rolled to a 3-0 triumph over the Minnesota Wild.

Coming into Friday's contest, Detroit had allowed just 13 goals in the third period, two fewer than Calgary for the league lead.

A six-time Vezina Trophy winner and two-time Hart Trophy recipient, Hasek kept that number intact, making seven saves in the final session after stopping six shots in the first and seven more in the second.

"I think it was a strong overall effort from our team," Hasek said. "They had some chances. I made three head saves, I didn't see the puck twice, so I was maybe a little bit lucky. But overall, I think we were the better team."

It was the fourth shutout of the season for Hasek, who pulled even with Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen for tops in the NHL. Lehtonen had taken the lead Thursday when he blanked Toronto.

"Dom, he struggled for a week there two games ago but now seems to have his game back," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He is playing really well. But you do it as a team, that's what I know. If the team plays better defensively, he knows where the shot is coming from."

Hasek, who turns 42 in January, also reduced his league-leading goals-against average to 1.87.

"Dom has played great," Cleary said. "He's such a competitor. It's a real treat to come watch him compete at practice and he carries it on to the game. He's a world-class goaltender, a Hall of Fame guy. He's just been great for us."

A six-time All-Star, Hasek remained unbeaten against Minnesota, improving his lifetime mark against the Wild to 5-0 with two ties.

"I don't know why and I don't want to find out," Hasek said of his success vs. Minnesota. "I'll play them at least three more times this year, so to be honest, I won't think about it. I just try to win a game. You can't think about success and why it happens. Every game is different."

After a scoreless opening period, Cleary provided all the offense needed by Detroit. While in the slot, he took a feed from the left side of the net by Robert Lang and fired the puck into an open right side at 7:18 of the second session.

"Langer made a nice play to me. All the credit goes to Lang on that one," said Cleary, who was injured on the play but remained in the game. "I kind of popped out and one-timed it, and in the process, (Pascal) Dupuis hit me in the mouth and I lost a couple teeth. I'd do it all over again. ... It's important to get the lead."

Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Mikael Samuelsson also scored and Cleary added an assist for the Red Wings, who have won two straight following a five-game skid.

Manny Fernandez stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who were shut out for the first time since November 1, 2005 by Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, a span of 93 games.

"We have to get everything going in every zone," Minnesota's Mikko Koivu said. "We have to work together and believe in ourselves. If you don't get any goals, you can't win the game, so we have to find a way."

Just 37 seconds after Cleary's goal, Lidstrom unleashed a slap shot from the left point during a power play that beat Fernandez for his sixth of the campaign. The Red Wings received the man advantage when Dupuis was given a four-minute minor for high-sticking Cleary.

"We can't afford those," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said of the penalty. "You can't reach and hook, you just can't. Especially after we got off to a good start."

It was just the second power-play tally in four games for Detroit.

"Our power play hadn't scored (much lately)," Babcock said. "It was great to see."

Exactly four minutes into the third, Samuelsson buried his own rebound from the left faceoff circle to stake the Red Wings to a 3-0 cushion.

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