NHL Game Summary - Detroit at Chicago
(Thursday, January 1st)
Final Score: Detroit 6, Chicago 4
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Jiri Hudler scored twice and added an assist, as the Detroit Red Wings tallied five consecutive goals en route to a 6-4 win over the Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
The clubs put on an offensive show unlike the 2008 version, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Sabres in a shootout, 2-1, at a snowy Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.
Brian Rafalski had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg each had three helpers for Detroit, which swept the home-and-home between the clubs. The Red Wings notched a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday.
Detroit netminder Ty Conklin made 33 saves to pick up the win for the second year in a row in the Winter Classic, having guided Pittsburgh over the Sabres in Buffalo on the first day of 2008. He has now played all three outdoor games the NHL has staged, as he was with the Oilers when they played Montreal in Edmonton in the 2003 Heritage Classic.
"The memories really get better when you win these games," Conklin said. "It's neat and I've had a great time playing in them."
Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists, and Kris Versteeg ended with a goal and one assist for Chicago, which has dropped two in a row since reeling off a franchise-best nine consecutive wins.
"Don't try to get too high or too low," Versteeg said. "Detroit's a pretty good team, but we're a pretty good team, too. You just have to move on to the next game. Overall, it was a good experience."
Cristobal Huet started in net for the Blackhawks, but was pulled in the third period after allowing six goals on 30 shots. Nikolai Khabibulin came in and stopped all 13 shots he faced.
Whereas Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, had a capacity of nearly 74,000 for the 2008 version, Wrigley Field offered a more intimate venue for this year's Winter Classic. The Friendly Confines hold a little more than 41,000 fans, normally rooting for the Chicago Cubs. But on Thursday, hockey fans packed the seats to see the rink, which stretched across the infield, between first and third base, with the players walking down the covered basepaths to their benches.
The clubs donned throwback sweaters, with Detroit wearing those from the franchise's first season in 1926-27, when they were known as the Cougars. Chicago had sweaters from the 1936-37 campaign.
On a mostly overcast day with whipping winds and a temperature around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the Red Wings fell behind 3-1 after the first period, but completely dominated the second frame to grab the lead.
Hudler tallied just 1:14 into the second, and added his second goal a little more than 11 minutes later to even the game. With a loose puck bouncing around the crease, Hudler batted at it twice, never making full contact. But he hit it enough for it to cross the goal line with 7:17 left to make it a 3-3 game.
Pavel Datsyuk then gave Detroit the lead on a breakaway, as he split two defenders, fighting one off with his left arm while skating toward the net. He approached the goal from the left side, but veered right and slid a backhander between Huet's pads with 2:43 remaining in the middle frame for a 4-3 Red Wings edge.
The Detroit surge continued in the third period with two goals just 17 seconds apart. Rafalski had a power-play marker at the 3:07 mark, when his backhander trickled through a small opening between Huet's pads. Then, at 3:24, Brett Lebda's blast from the top of the slot hit off Huet's arm and caromed into the upper section of the net.
Initially it was not called a goal, but after a review the score counted, giving Detroit a 6-3 lead.
The rest of the third period went by, with the sun coming out briefly, without a goal until Duncan Keith scored on a power-play for Chicago with 9.2 ticks left. But Detroit had too large a lead and held on to complete the sweep of the unusual home-and-home set.
The Blackhawks initially pleased the home crowd by dominating the first period, as Versteeg got Chicago on the scoreboard just 3:24 into the game with a power-play tally. Havlat blasted a shot, and Conklin didn't control the rebound, leaving the puck sitting in the slot. Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien skated by the disc but couldn't get a stick on it, though Versteeg came barreling through and banged home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
At the 9:50 mark, Mikael Samuelsson evened the game with a power-play goal for Detroit off a nice pass from Zetterberg behind the net. But the Blackhawks countered with two goals in a row, the first one again on the man-advantage.
Versteeg made a backhanded pass to the slot for a one-timer from Havlat, who buried the puck in net with 7:23 remaining in the first.
Then, with less than a minute remaining, Ben Eager made a quick move behind the net and tucked the puck past Conklin to give Chicago a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission.
Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hull, the all-time goal scoring leader in Blackhawks history with 604, and who finished with 1,153 points in 1,036 games for Chicago, dropped the puck in a ceremony prior to the game. Also standing on the red carpet were fellow Hall-of-Famers and Blackhawks greats Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, and Denis Savard, who was Chicago's coach for two-plus seasons before being fired in October...Also at the puck drop were Cubs greats and baseball Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg.
01/01 22:24:43 ET