Detroit — The Red Wings held a 5-1 lead early in the final half but had go to a shootout to earn a 6-5 win over the Maple Leafs in the featured Alumni Showdown game played before 33,425 on Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The fans gave captain Steve Yzerman a standing ovation when he was introduced before the game, then chanted "Gordie, Gordie," when Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe dropped the ceremonial first puck to Yzerman and the Leafs' Wendel Clark.
"It was pretty cool," said Yzerman of being the last player introduced and getting the standing ovation. "I had a lot of fun being out there and the outdoor rink was a good experience for me, first time, and seeing everybody. It was an outstanding day. Everybody was happy to be here."
Yzerman didn't play much, but he did take a handful of shifts in his famed No. 19 jersey.
Former Red Wings stars Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios all thrilled the crowd with goals. Slava Kozlov even had a penalty shot after getting hooked from behind by Al Iafrate, but Curtis Joseph came up with a big save to keep the Leafs’ deficit at 5-4 with 8:14 remaining.
In the end, it was Tomas Holmstrom who scored the lone goal in the shootout, slipping the puck past Joseph. Manny Legace made saves on all three Leafs shooters he faced in the shootout, including the final one on Joe Nieuwendyk to start the victory celebration.
"I think he thought I was going to go five hole, so I held on to it a little bit, then I was ready for a poke check, but I had to make sure to get it over the pad. I guess," Holmstrom said. "It was lots of fun and the whole experience was great."
Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman wanted to get Holmstrom out there in the shootout.
"We wanted to get Holmstrom, he's such a character guy and everybody loves him," said Bowman of Holmstrom. "They were trying to get him a goal and I said, 'Let's try him.' He's always been good around the net."
Doug Brown started the scoring for the Wings with a wrist shot from the right circle at the 7:20 mark of the first half, then Chris Chelios scored with a wrist shot with 14 minutes left in the period, celebrating by sliding on his back down the ice.
After the Leafs' Gary Roberts scored on Chris Osgood with the use of a screen, the Wings scored a pair of goals within a 30-second stretch to open up a 4-1 lead at the intermission.
First, Sergei Fedorov took a great pass from Mickey Redmond and scored from just right of the crease to open up a 3-1 lead.
Then Brendan Shanahan scored off a wrist shot from between the circles.
Lidstrom took a pass from Kirk Maltby and scored on Joseph with a shot from the slot to give the Red Wings a 5-1 advantage with 18 minutes left.
"It was great to get a goal in a game like this," Lidstrom said. "It was great to get the win, too, even though it's not important, but I think when it comes down to it, everybody wants to win even though it's the alumni game."
The Leafs responded with goals from Shayne Corson, Tie Domi and Steve Thomas during a 4½-minute stretch to pull within 5-4 with 11:25 left.
After pulling their goalie, the Leafs pulled even when Bryan McCabe beat Legace off a rebound with two seconds left.