Hudler, Cleary score twice as Red Wings hang on

DETROIT (Ticker) — A quick burst early in the third period had
the Detroit Red Wings feeling comfortable. It proved to be just
enough, however, for them to get past the Vancouver Canucks.

Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary each scored two goals as the Red
Wings held on for a 6-5 victory over the Canucks on Thursday.

Captain Nicklas Lidstrom recorded a goal and two assists and
fellow blue-liner Derek Meech netted his first career tally for
the Red Wings, who completed the season series against the
Canucks with a 2-0-2 record.

“We’ve played them four times in the span of a month and a
half,” Lidstrom said. “It’s been a quick series with them, but
in a way, it’s good to get that long trip out of the way, too.
We know they’re a good team, so we’re happy with the two points

Defenseman Brian Rafalski and Valtteri Filppula both set up a
pair of tallies for Detroit, which has won three of four.

“That was post-lockout hockey – last shot wins,” Red Wings coach
Mike Babcock said. “It’s a good thing they didn’t get any more
shots. Tomorrow when I get up and look in the paper, it’s going
to be beautiful. The bottom line is, you win as a team and you
lose as a team, and tonight we were able to get six and win.”

Henrik Sedin scored a goal and set up another while Daniel Sedin
and blue-liner Shane O’Brien registered two assists apiece for
the Canucks, who fell to 0-3-0 on their seven-game road trip.

With the game tied at 3-3 after 40 minutes, Meech put the Red
Wings ahead for good at 3:23 of the third.

“I’ve been looking for that one for a while,” Meech said. “It’s
funny because I came close in Vancouver last year. I thought I
had one there, but they called it back on me. It’s great to be
able to contribute.”

Entering without a goal in 49 career NHL contests, the
24-year-old grabbed the puck in the right faceoff circle and
skated behind the net before putting a backhander inside the
left goalpost.

“It was one of those plays where you’re not thinking, just
reacting to what the situation is,” Meech said. “At first, I
thought I was going to shoot it on net, but then the body took
over, and that’s the way it went.”

Meech’s teammates were elated to see him end his drought and
impressed with the manner in which he did so.

“It’s great to see (Meech) showing real lots of patience and
hanging on to the puck,” Lidstrom said. “It was a great move,
great goal to see him score.”

“Meech is a smart player and he’s doing well up here,” Cleary
said. “It’s not an easy transition positionally along the
boards. But that was a great goal.”

Lidstrom doubled the advantage just 50 seconds later, wristing a
shot from the left circle between the pads of Curtis Sanford.
The goaltender, who made 27 saves, was then pulled in favor of
Cory Schneider after Cleary fired a loose puck past him from the
slot during a power play at 6:08.

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“It seemed like they were coming at us in waves at the beginning
of the third,” Sanford said. “They made some plays out there.
They scored some nice goals. They’ve got some skill players.
Maybe we gave them a little too much room.”

“You still try to shoot the puck a lot and get it through,”
Lidstrom said of his third goal of the campaign. “Hoss (Marian
Hossa) made a great pass when I came down the side there to find
an opening. When you’re not scoring, you try to shoot a lot and
get the pucks through to the net.”

Vancouver refused to fold, however, as Henrik Sedin knocked in a
rebound at 8:20 and Alex Burrows deflected defenseman Kevin
Bieksa’s shot from the right point past netminder Chris Osgood
with 85 seconds left.

“We can’t be happy about the way we started the third period,
but we kept working,” Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo said.

But it was too little, too late as the Canucks dropped their
fourth straight contest.

“They fought back. They didn’t give up at all,” Lidstrom said.
“They were still coming at us even though they were down three
goals for a while. It was great to see the team hold them off
at the end.”

“I thought we played a good game until the latter part of the
third period,” Cleary added. “We let them back in it, but at
the end of the day, it’s a win. Our offense was good, but we
have to get a lot tighter defensively.”

Taylor Pyatt opened the scoring 95 seconds into the game for
Vancouver, but Hudler scored twice in a span of 5:01 to give
Detroit a 2-1 edge. It was the second two-goal effort of the
season and third career for the Czech, who has netted four
tallies in as many games.

“You can tell he’s playing with lots of confidence,” Lidstrom
said. “He’s hanging on to the puck and shielding the puck with
his body. He’s not a big guy out there, but he’s good at
hanging on to it. He’s got a quick release. He can really
shoot the puck, and we saw that on both of his goals, that he
can beat someone with that quick shot.”

Kyle Wellwood, whose turnover led to Hudler’s first goal,
extended his goal-scoring streak to three games during a power
play 92 seconds into the middle session to forge a tie, and
Mason Raymond put the Canucks ahead, 3-2, at 4:13. But Cleary
tipped Lidstrom’s slap shot from the left point past Sanford at
9:34 to again knot the contest.

Osgood made 20 saves.