Legace benched in favor of Joseph

Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:38 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are turning to their most experienced goaltender to get them out of the first round of the playoffs.

Manny Legace
Legace

Curtis Joseph
Joseph

Curtis Joseph will replace Manny Legace for Game 5 Thursday night in the Red Wings' series with the Nashville Predators. The Red Wings have lost two straight, letting the Predators back into the series.

"I'm putting Curtis in because we want to get a win," coach Dave Lewis said Wednesday. "I want to change some things, and Curtis has tremendous experience. He knows how to deal with the pressure. It's the perfect situation for him to be in."

Legace started the first four games of the series. He has been Detroit's No. 1 goalie for more than a month with Joseph hobbled because of an ankle injury and Dominik Hasek out with a groin injury.

The season started with Hasek in net after he ended his one-year retirement and Joseph on the trading block. But Hasek got hurt and the team changed its plans to deal Joseph.

Then injury hit again. Joseph, who had ankle surgery last summer, sprained his right ankle Feb. 11 and missed a month. The 14-year veteran played in five games before re-injuring his ankle during warmups March 23 at San Jose, and he finished the regular season 16-10-3.

The goalie known as "Cujo" has a 58-62 career postseason record, including an 0-4 mark last year in his first season in Detroit.

"You always want to play. It's a fun time of the year," Joseph said. "I've worked hard on the ankle with the trainers for this opportunity."

Legace allowed just two goals to help Detroit open the series with two home wins. But in Games 3 and 4, losses on the road, he gave up six.

The career backup was replaced early in the third period Tuesday by Joseph after allowing three goals.

"You've got to make some big saves for your team, and I haven't the past two games," Legace said.

At the other end of the ice, Tomas Vokoun has been outstanding for the Predators.

Vokoun stopped 41 shots for his first playoff shutout Tuesday night as Nashville won 3-0 to even the series.

"A hot goalie can carry a team," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We've seen it the last two games."

And the Red Wings saw it last year.

In the first round, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks knocked off the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.

"Hopefully, we can use it for our motivation and advantage because we know how frustrated and bad it felt at the end of that series," Detroit's Kirk Maltby said. "Most of the guys here were there last year, and we don't want to go through that again."

Vokoun, who like Legace made his first playoff start in Game 1, can sense the Red Wings are frustrated.

"It's hard to play against us," Vokoun said.

Especially on the power play.

The Red Wings, who had the NHL's best record during the regular season, led the league in scoring and were among the top teams on the power play. Against Nashville, they are just 1-for-20 with an extra attacker.

"When you're seeing the same team, the same power play, you understand it," Trotz said. "There's no gray areas. From a penalty-killing standpoint, you can take a lot of options away, you know when to jump, when to pressure and when to back off."

The Predators are expected to be without standout defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who left Game 1 with what the team said is an "upper-body injury."

"We're hoping Saturday is a good day for him," Trotz said, referring to Game 6 in Nashville.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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