Lidstrom scored the go-ahead goal with 6:45 remaining, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 triumph over the Canucks.
Winners in the first two games of last season’s Western Conference quarterfinals against Detroit, the Canucks looked to carry a 1-1 deadlock into the third period of Game Three. But Lidstrom victimized goaltender Dan Cloutier from center ice with 25 seconds remaining in the second to give the Red Wings the lead en route to the first of four consecutive victories.
Trailing by a 2-0 margin in this one, the Canucks scored late in the second and early in the third to knot the contest. But Lidstrom began a three-goal outburst at 13:15 to lift Detroit to its first win over Vancouver in three tries this season.
“This game was important for us, playing on the road against a team that’s beaten us twice already this season,” Lidstrom said. “We wanted to get a strong first period and get the first goal. … They had the momentum after the second goal and were coming at us pretty good. We tried to fight them off and get some pressure ourselves.”
Markus Naslund regained a share of the league lead in goals with his 33rd and Todd Bertuzzi netted his third in two contests for Vancouver, which allowed the first goal of the game for the 11th consecutive time.
“We keep getting behind every game,” Naslund said. “It’s something we’re focusing on but recently, we haven’t found a way to get the first goal.”
“In the third period, we were going for the win and we cheated a bit offensively,” Cloutier said. “And sometimes it’s going to cost you, and that’s what happened. If you give Detroit quality opportunities, they’re going to score.”
From just above the left faceoff circle, rookie Henrik Zetterberg backhanded a pass to Lidstrom, who rushed toward the net from the right point. After taking the feed, the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman tucked it under a sprawled Cloutier just inside the left post to give Detroit a 3-2 lead.
“The pass wasn’t that hard, but the puck made it through,” Lidstrom said. “I just tried to get the puck on net.”
“We had a fair number of chances, but we had to battle to get back and we made some mistakes that cost us the game,” Naslund said.
The Red Wings got on the scoreboard with 3:44 remaining in the first. Holmstrom battled for the puck in the right corner before Brendan Shanahan emerged with control. From the side of the net, he backhanded a pass across the crease to Fedorov, who buried it from the left side for his 20th goal of the season.
On just the fourth shot of the game for Detroit, defenseman Patrick Boileau netted his first NHL goal on a wrist shot from the right circle that sailed over Cloutier’s blocker and skimmed the left goalpost at 1:59 of the second for a 2-0 Red Wings advantage.
“It’s a great feeling, especially against a team like them in a game like tonight,” Boileau said. “One ‘D’ man changed and I saw Sergei get into the zone and put on the breaks to buy some time, and I just jumped in. He made the perfect pass, tape to tape, and I tried to shoot it on the blocker side because I saw Cloutier coming across.”
With time winding down in the period, Naslund took a feed from Brendan Morrison in the slot and whipped a shot into the top right corner of the net with 18 seconds left in the period to halve the deficit.
The goal was Naslund’s second in seven games and tied him with Ottawa’s Marian Hossa for the league lead.
After Kris Draper’s slap shot from the left circle rang off the right post, Bertuzzi got a pass from Morrison, skated through the right circle and shoved the puck over a sprawled Manny Legace 97 seconds into the third to draw Vancouver into a tie.
Darren McCarty took a no-look feed from Kirk Maltby in the left circle and deposited it into a vacant net at 14:32 for his ninth goal of the season, and Holmstrom lifted Fedorov’s cross-slot pass over Cloutier’s right shoulder for a power-play tally less than two minutes later for a 5-2 cushion, completing Detroit’s three-goal, 3:07 outburst.
“When they tied it, we didn’t get down,” Fedorov said. “We made a few mistakes, but we were playing solid before that and we had the confidence to continue the way we did. The mistakes on their part gave us a chance to score a couple of important goals. It was the best we played as a group in the last 10-15 games.”
“We stuck with it after Bertuzzi scored in the third, got some good down-low pressure and then Nick scored,” McCarty said. “Then we got the fourth right after that. It was a much closer game than the 5-2 score dictates.”