- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009

DETROIT | Dan Cleary scored twice against the team that drafted him, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.

Cleary’s second goal came midway through the third period, 1:27 after Mikael Samuelsson’s go-ahead score, for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Detroit’s Chris Osgood made 30 saves, and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 38 shots for the Blackhawks, who gave up an empty-net goal to Henrik Zetterberg.

Adam Burish gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 5:25 in, but Cleary tied it a few minutes later, and Johan Franzen put Detroit in front 2-1 late in the second period.

Cleary was drafted 13th by the Blackhawks in 1997 but had just nine points in 41 games before being traded to Edmonton. He signed with the Red Wings in 2005 after the NHL lockout. After one lackluster season for the Red Wings, he had 40 points each of the past three seasons.

In the previous round against Anaheim, Cleary scored the series-winning goal with three minutes left in Game 7. He has netted a career-high five goals this postseason.

Detroit and Chicago, both in their 83rd NHL season, are meeting for the 15th time in the playoffs, with the Blackhawks holding an 8-6 advantage.

The franchises have played a league-record 703 times in the regular season, including this year’s Winter Classic in which Detroit beat Chicago 6-3 at Wrigley Field.

Chicago, playing in its first conference final since 1995 against a team in its third straight, was competitive until Detroit broke it open in the final period.

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