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Joseph gets shutout in second appearance

4/17/2004

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- This time, the Detroit Red Wings proved
they know exactly how to finish off the first round of the
playoffs.

Ray Whitney and Steve Yzerman scored goals 30 seconds apart in
the opening two minutes, and the Red Wings beat the Nashville
Predators 2-0 Saturday in Game 6 to clinch their first-round series
4-2.

Robert Lang had two assists, and Curtis Joseph stopped 15 shots
to earn his 16th career postseason shutout and first with Detroit.

"We just seemed to do what we had to do to win," Detroit
forward Darren McCarty said. "That's what we concentrated on, and
we hadn't won a first-round series in a while so it feels good."

Actually, it was just two years ago that the Red Wings won a
first-round series en route to their 10th Stanley Cup championship.
But this series helped ease the pain from last year when Anaheim
swept Detroit.

That loss had Red Wings fans panicking after Nashville evened
the series at 2 behind goalie Tomas Vokoun. His play provided
painful flashbacks to Jean-Sebastien Giguere's dominating
performance for Anaheim in 2003.

But the Red Wings finished off the Western Conference
first-round series in style by leading for 115:15 of the final 120
minutes to end Nashville's first foray into the playoffs. They
improved to 8-0 in potential clinching games, dating to the 1998
Stanley Cup finals.

"I loved this series," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. "It was
great. It was exactly what we needed."

Now the regular season's best team will continue its push for a
fourth Stanley Cup title in eight seasons, and the Red Wings will
do it with Joseph in goal. Lewis said he will stick with the
veteran for the rest of the playoffs after Detroit won the last two
games to capture the series.

The largest crowd ever at 17,329 squeezed into the Predators
home arena, and fans were armed with inflatable plastic sticks
handed out as they arrived. They tried to help the Predators fend
off elimination but couldn't drown out Detroit's fast start.

The Red Wings ignored the noise and scored on two of their first
three shots to take control and quiet the fans. It was the only
game of the series won by the visiting team.

"Whenever you have an opportunity to close an opponent out, you
want to come out and make a statement early," Detroit center Kris
Draper said. "I think we were able to do that."

Whitney scored his first goal of the series after his first shot
from the slot bounced off Predators forward Andreas Johansson and
back to him for the second shot, which found the net at 1:26 of the
first period.

Lang, who also assisted on the first goal, took advantage when
Predators defenseman Mark Eaton lost his stick near the boards.
Lang passed the puck out to Yzerman in the slot for a goal at 1:56.

Detroit nearly scored again on the next shot by Draper, but the
puck went over Vokoun's back and fell onto the goal line before
Brad Bombardir cleared it away.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said the Predators had two defensive
lapses.

"They capitalized on both chances, and all of a sudden you get
a minute and 56 seconds into the game and you're down 2-0 and
that's a pretty tough task against the Red Wings," he said.

Nashville had its chances to make it a game but went 0-for-5 on
the power play. The Predators scored only one power-play goal in
the series and were hurt by the loss of defenseman Marek Zidlicky,
who was sidelined for all but two minutes with an upper body
injury.

Game notes
The shutout was Detroit's first in the postseason since
Dominik Hasek stopped Carolina 3-0 on June 10, 2002. ... Yzerman's
goal was his 68th of the postseason, breaking a tie with Gordie
Howe for most goals in Red Wings history. ... Vokoun gave up five
goals on 26 shots in the first period of the last two games. ...
Lang had at least a point in each of the Red Wings' victories in
the series and was scoreless in their two losses. ... Detroit is
10-0 in Game 6 when it can clinch a series, dating to 1966 when the
Red Wings beat Chicago. Seven of those wins have come on the road.
... Scott Walker, who led Nashville in scoring in the regular
season, was held to one point in the playoffs.