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Red Wings overcome Predators

Posted: Thursday, April 08, 2004

DETROIT The story line was not lost on Manny Legace.

Detroit's goaltender was just glad this one had a happy ending.

Tomas Holmstrom and Kris Draper scored early in the third period to lift the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night in the opening game of their first-round series.

''I was thinking, 'Here we go again,''' said Legace, who made 23 saves in his first playoff start.

For the first two periods, there were striking similarities to Detroit's playoff appearance last year when a young franchise with a goalie making his playoff debut rocked a star-studded team.

Tomas Vokoun played like Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and the Predators looked like the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Giguere set a record for a playoff debut with 63 saves last year when Anaheim knocked off the Red Wings in Game 1. Anaheim swept Detroit en route to the Stanley Cup finals.

Vokoun, in his first playoff game, made 18 saves during the first two periods and finished with 26.

''He made some unreal saves,'' Legace said.

Vokoun could not turn away the Red Wings when it mattered most, however.

Draper tied it 37 seconds into the third period and Holmstrom scored just over four minutes later. With 1:45 left, Robert Lang also had a goal for the Red Wings, who earned an NHL-best 109 points in the regular season.

Detroit coach Dave Lewis has won 48 games in his first two seasons, but had not won a playoff game until Wednesday.

''I guess it's a bit of a relief,'' Lewis said.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday in Detroit.

Bruins 3, Canadiens 0

BOSTON Andrew Raycroft posted a shutout in his playoff debut, Boston's mediocre power play came alive, and the Bruins beat Montreal in the opener of their 30th postseason series with the Canadiens.

Raycroft, one of the NHL's top rookies, stopped 31 shots.

Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander, both obtained from Washington in early March, scored in the first period, and Mike Knuble connected late in the second, all against Jose Theodore.

Theodore got little protection as he faced 23 shots in the first period and 39 overall.

The second-seeded Bruins can take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the seventh-seeded Canadiens at home on Friday.

Canucks 5, Flames 3

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Martin Rucinsky scored the first of Vancouver's four power-play goals in a playoff-opening victory over Calgary.

Sami Salo, Henrik Sedin and Brendan Morrison also took advantage of Calgary penalties and Mattias Ohlund added a goal during a delayed call to lift Vancouver to its seventh straight win, dating to the regular season.

Dan Cloutier made 26 saves, Markus Naslund had three assists, and Morrison set up two goals for the Canucks.

Chris Simon and Oleg Saprykin both had power-play goals, and Krzystof Oliwa also scored for the Flames, making their first playoff appearance in eight years.

Avalanche 3, Stars 1

DENVER David Aebischer stopped 37 shots in his first playoff start, helping Colorado begin the playoffs by beating Dallas.

Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay and Joe Sakic scored to put the Avalanche up 3-0.

The defensive-minded Stars lost in the playoffs by more than one goal for the first time in two years.

Dallas picked up the pace with 32 shots the final two periods, but couldn't beat Aebischer until Niko Kapanen's wrister trickled through his pads with 6:30 left.



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