DETROIT – Chris Osgood predicts the reshaped Detroit Red Wings will end up contending for the Stanley Cup with a new emphasis on defence to make up for the scoring they lost in the off-season.
Osgood said Detroit’s home opener provided only a preview of what’s to come.
Kris Draper and Johan Franzen scored 1:34 apart late in the second period to put Detroit ahead and Osgood made 32 saves to help the Red Wings hold on for a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in a rematch of Western Conference finalists on Thursday night.
“We do the same thing every year and it’s going to be the same thing again,” said Osgood, who helped Detroit hoist the Cup two years ago and come within one win of repeating in June. “We’re going to be in the same position at the end where we’re going to have an opportunity to win like we do every year.”
The salary-cap strapped Red Wings lost four players who combined to score 88 goals last season.
Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky signed with Chicago, Mikael Samuelsson left for Vancouver, and Jiri Hudler bolted for Russia.
“We’re going to have a different look in April,” Osgood said. “We’re going to be harder to play against. You saw a glimpse of it with our penalty killing with our guys blocking shots.”
Chicago had a two-man advantage for 1:53 early in the second period and didn’t score.
“The 5-on-3 turned the game for us,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was a big win for our team to take some pressure off.”
Detroit opened the season by losing a pair of two-goal leads in losses to the St. Louis Blues in Sweden.
The Blackhawks controlled the game early, taking a 1-0 lead on Patrick Sharp’s goal early in the second period, but Osgood prevented them from adding to the lead.
“Ozzie was real good,” Babcock said. “I don’t know if he played one game that well in the first half last year.”
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, meanwhile, doesn’t want his club to get down about its 1-1-1 start.
“If we keep playing like that, we’ll find a way to win,” Quenneville said. “We had puck-possession time, we had chances, we had zone time.”
After Sharp scored, Nicklas Lidstrom tied it midway through the second on a shot that caromed off Chicago’s John Madden and past goalie Cristobal Huet.
“The turning point was the one that went off my skate into the net,” Madden said. “Changed the momentum of the game. Before that, I thought we were in the driver’s seat.”
Kris Versteeg pulled the Blackhawks within a goal midway through the second period only to be denied a shot at overtime by Osgood.
“Ozzie had a heck of a game,” Quenneville said. “He played well against us in the playoffs, and he looked like the same goalie.”
The Red Wings eliminated Chicago from the playoffs last season in five games, then lost the Stanley Cup finals rematch.
Detroit began to put memories of its Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh in the past with a solid showing against its biggest Central Division rival.
“We’ve got to start at the bottom of the hill again,” Osgood said. “As time passes, I’m more disappointed because we were so close.”
The Blackhawks seemed to improve their chances with the signing of Hossa after his one-year shot at the Cup with the Red Wings didn’t work out. Hossa, though, is out after having shoulder surgery.
“He’s not skating yet,” Quenneville said. “He’s improving his range of motion and he’s on schedule to return in late November.”
NOTES: Detroit D Jonathan Ericsson appeared to try to keep weight off his left skate when he was hit by a puck during Chicago’s power play midway through the third period after getting hit with a puck. “He’s going to be fine,” Babcock said. … Huet made 21 saves. … The Red Wings signed 37-year-old F Brad May on Thursday and sent F Justin Abdelkader to Grand Rapids (AHL), hoping he would add toughness. May did, getting into a fight with Radek Smolenak midway through the first period. “It just gives you a little bit more swagger and he can look after your guys and attack people,” Babcock said. … Sharp has scored in all three of Chicago’s games. … There were several patches of empty seats in the upper and lower levels, but the Red Wings announced the game as a sellout crowd of 20,066.