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Rafalski's return sparks Red Wings

Mar 6, 2008 - 4:59 AM
DETROIT (Ticker) -- The injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings are becoming healthy just in time.

Defenseman Brian Rafalski, who had missed three weeks with a groin injury, returned Wednesday and scored his 11th goal of the season as the Red Wings skated to a 4-1 triumph over the St. Louis Blues.

All-Star Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals and Johan Franzen also tallied for Detroit (44-18-6), which won its second in a row after going 1-8-2 in its previous 11 games and increased its lead over second-place Dallas (41-24-5) in the Western Conference to seven points.

"I think a win is the most important thing, but obviously, that third goal was a good cushion going the rest of the way through the third (period)," Rafalski said. "It gave us some more chances in the end."

The blue-liner admitted he sees a difference in the healthier version of the Red Wings. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall returned last week from a shoulder injury.

"That always helps, for sure," Rafalski said. "The more familiarity with the guys on the ice, guys can go back to normal roles. It makes it easier for everybody."

"To have (Rafalski and Kronwall) back, it really helps our defense," said Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek, who finished with 18 saves. "Once we get to the puck, we can skate with the puck. We can move the puck quickly and give it to the forwards. We didn't spend as much time in our zone, and the reason was, we moved the puck much, much faster."

Five-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, who has been out since February 18 with a sprained right knee, is expected to return for Sunday's game against the Nashville Predators. Veteran blue-liner Chris Chelios (fibula) has resumed skating, but his return date is uncertain.

Rookie defenseman Erik Johnson netted the lone goal for St. Louis, which began its franchise-high nine-game road trip on a sour note.

"When it was 1-1, we had a tremendous power play," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "We had six or seven point-blank scoring chances. Couple of shifts after that, we turned it over in our own zone and they got behind us (for Franzen's goal).

"They're a good team, obviously, leading the conference. You have to play a better game, consistently, than we did."

With Detroit nursing a 2-1 lead just over six minutes into the third period, Aaron Downey carried the puck into the offensive zone and fed Rafalski, who wristed a shot from the top of the slot. All-Star goaltender Manny Legace did not appear to see the shot and did not react even moments after the puck was in the net.

Downey never saw the goal because he was heading to the bench for a shift change.

"It was nice to get a little reward with the assist," Downey said.

Datsyuk completed his two-goal performance with an empty-netter with 91 seconds remaining in the third, sealing the win.

Franzen gave Detroit a 2-1 lead after his second-effort beat Legace midway through the second period.

"It seemed like it bounced about six times before it got to me," Legace said.

Datsyuk opened the scoring at 5:28 of the first, gathering the rebound of Tomas Kopecky's shot and wristing the puck past Legace for his 24th goal of the season.

"I dove back. He didn't get a lot on it," Legace said. "I was going to grab it with my stick, but he tipped it."

With St. Louis on the power play, Johnson leveled the contest with 93 seconds remaining in the session. He was credited with his fourth of the campaign after the puck went in off the stick of Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 1 0 0 1
    DETROIT 1 1 2 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DET - PAVEL DATSYUK 24 (TOMAS KOPECKY, TOMAS HOLMSTROM) 5:28
    STL - (PP) ERIK JOHNSON 4 (BARRET JACKMAN, KEITH TKACHUK)
    18:27
    2ND PRD: DET - JOHAN FRANZEN 14 (MIKAEL SAMUELSSON, HENRIK
    ZETTERBERG) 9:48
    3RD PRD: DET -

    Mar 5 10:05 PM


  • NHL
    ST LOUIS 1
    DETROIT 4
    3RD PRD: DET - (EN) PAVEL DATSYUK 25 (UNASSISTED) 18:29

    Blues 1, Red Wings 4  3rd - 1:31Mar 5 10:04 PM


  • NHL
    ST LOUIS 1
    DETROIT 3
    3RD PRD: DET - BRIAN RAFALSKI 11 (AARON DOWNEY, ANDREAS LILJA) 6:11

    Blues 1, Red Wings 3  3rd - 13:49Mar 5 9:34 PM
  • 10
    roots
    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Blues 1, Red Wings 2  3rd - 19:55Mar 5 9:26 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 1 0 1
    DETROIT 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DET - PAVEL DATSYUK 24 (TOMAS KOPECKY, TOMAS HOLMSTROM) 5:28
    STL - (PP) LEE STEMPNIAK 12 (ERIK JOHNSON, BARRET JACKMAN)
    18:27
    2ND PRD: DET - JOHAN FRANZEN 14 (MIKAEL SAMUELSSON, HENRIK
    ZETTERBERG) 9:48


    Mar 5 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    ST LOUIS 1
    DETROIT 2
    2ND PRD: DET - JOHAN FRANZEN 14 (UNASSISTED) 9:48

    Blues 1, Red Wings 2  2nd - 10:12Mar 5 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 1 1
    DETROIT 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DET - PAVEL DATSYUK 24 (TOMAS KOPECKY, TOMAS HOLMSTROM) 5:28
    STL - (PP) LEE STEMPNIAK 12 (ERIK JOHNSON, BARRET JACKMAN)
    18:27
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    STL 12

    Mar 5 8:14 PM


  • NHL
    ST LOUIS 1
    DETROIT 1
    1ST PRD: STL - (PP) LEE STEMPNIAK 12 (ERIK JOHNSON, BARRET JACKMAN)
    18:27

    Blues 1, Red Wings 1  1st - 1:33Mar 5 8:13 PM


  • NHL
    ST LOUIS 0
    DETROIT 1
    1ST PRD: DET - PAVEL DATSYUK 24 (TOMAS KOPECKY, TOMAS HOLMSTROM) 5:28

    Blues 0, Red Wings 1  1st - 14:32Mar 5 7:49 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Sensfan4eva Added 5 roots

    Blues vs. Red WingsMar 1 11:59 PM