Red Wings Continue Struggles in OT
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DETROIT (AP) _ The Detroit Red Wings have been dominant at times during the playoffs.
In overtime, they have simply struggled.
Carolina’s Ron Francis knocked in Jeff O’Neill’s short pass to the top of the crease 58 seconds into overtime, and the Hurricanes beat Detroit 3-2 in the Stanley Cup finals opener Tuesday night.
The Red Wings fell to 1-4 in overtime during the postseason, while the Hurricanes improved to 7-1 in the extra session.
``We played against good teams,″ Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek said. ``And this game, like I said, they were smarter. I don’t know what happened in the overtime. It happened so fast. All the sudden the puck was in the net.″
Detroit’s Brendan Shanahan said the Red Wings paid for not winning the game in regulation, which they finished with a power play.
``Anything can happen in overtime,″ Shanahan said. ``It went off a couple of bodies. It was kind of a pinball play, but that’s the danger of being in overtime.″
IRBE AT IT AGAIN: Arturs Irbe will attempt to do what he once did: Shock the Detroit Red Wings.
Carolina’s goaltender was San Jose’s goalie when the Sharks upset Detroit in seven games in the first round of the 1994 playoffs.
The Hurricanes need three more wins to stun the hockey world, but Irbe got off to a good start in Carolina’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 by stopping 23 shots.
Irbe was 9-4 in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 1.41 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. He was spectacular at times, allowing just six goals in six games against Toronto in the conference finals after being benched earlier in the playoffs and replaced by Kevin Weekes.
Once the Red Wings recovered from the early exit against Irbe in 1994, they put together quite a string of success in the playoffs.
In 1995, they lost to New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals. In 1996, they lost to Colorado in the Western Conference finals before winning consecutive Cups in 1997 and ’98.
NEW TAX UPSETS PLAYERS: The National Hockey League Players Association is not happy about a new tax in Alberta, Canada, that would be assessed against players on game days at Edmonton’s Skyreach Centre and Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome.
The NHLPA filed a letter with the NHL, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did not interpret the letter as a grievance
``I’ve seen the letter, and while the union purports to raise objections, which are unfounded, but the fact is they didn’t initiate a grievance,″ Bettman said during the second intermission of the Stanley Cup finals Tuesday night. ``If it does initiate a grievance, it will be resolved by the arbitrator, so it’s not a big deal.″
The Alberta tax, which is expected to take effect for the coming NHL season, would generate about $6 million for the Flames and Oilers.
``It’s no different than when a local government decides to build a new arena and institutes taxes to pay for it,″ Bettman said. ``To make accusations against the government of Alberta is a little silly and I also believe, unfortunately, this indicates a resolve on the part of the union to ignore the plight of some of our teams under our current economic conditions.″
FAMILIAR FACES: There’s no shortage of connections between the Red Wings and Hurricanes even beyond those relating to Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., who are both the sons of immigrants, self-made millionaires and major players in the revival of downtown Detroit.
Brendan Shanahan played for the Hartford Whalers, who moved to Carolina, from 1995 until the 1996-97 season when he was traded to Detroit.
Shanahan, who had 16 points during the Western Conference playoffs, scored 79 points in 76 games in Hartford.
``I still know a lot of the guys that are there,″ Shanahan said. ``There’s a lot of the same faces, they haven’t made too many changes. We have a lot of respect for them and the way they’ve played.″
Carolina’s Aaron Ward was with Detroit from 1996 until it traded him in July for a future second-round pick. Ward played at University of Michigan and is a native of Windsor, Ontario, which is just across the border from Detroit.
``I expect boos and hisses,″ Ward said before the game. ``We’re Carolina, we’re the adversary. I expect, obviously, support for the Detroit Red Wings and nothing else. Having been gone a year now, I don’t think I’m a factor in any capacity.″
However, Ward admitted that he is motivated to play well against the team that sent him away.
``I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that,″ he said.
Two other Hurricanes played in college in Michigan: Rod Brind’Amour at Michigan State and Bates Battaglia at Lake Superior State.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford played for the Red Wings during the 1970-71 season and from 1973-81. Carolina coach Paul Maurice coached the Junior Red Wings, who played at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings’ storied home. Hurricanes assistant Randy Ladouceur played in Detroit from 1982-87 and was the last Red Wings player to wear No. 19, which is captain Steve Yzerman’s number. Carolina defenseman Nikos Tselios is a cousin of Detroit’s Chris Chelios.
ONE-TIMERS: The Red Wings, who have won nine Stanley Cups, are in the finals for the 22nd time while the Hurricanes are making their first appearance. ... Detroit beat Carolina in both meetings during the season, 5-2 on the road and 4-3 at home.