The Red Wings and the Dallas Stars are quite possibly the two most evenly matched teams in the NHL right now. Their previous three meetings all ended in ties, and this fourth and last meeting of the regular season ended the same way, a 2-2 overtime decision.
Tomas Holmstrom, who has played remarkably well paired with Sean Avery and Boyd Devereaux, opened the scoring just over a minute into the game. Chris Chelios shot on net from the blue line. Goalie Marty Turco was out of position from making the first save, and Holmstrom was able to flip the rebound high into the net.
The Stars had plenty of scoring chances of their own through the first period, most notably the 41 seconds of 5-on-3 play they gained with overlapping penalties to Sergei Fedorov and Maxim Kuznetsov. Kris Draper, Chris Chelios, and Nicklas Lidstrom did a good job of blocking shots before they could get through to Curtis Joseph.
Dallas did manage to score on a regular 5-on-4 penalty near the end of the period. Mike Modano's shot had Joseph sliding one way to make the block, and Jere Lehtinen was able to put the rebound into the net with a quick shot.
The Red Wings scored a power play goal of their own early in the second period to regain the lead. Again, the goal came through Holmstrom's hard work. Jason Woolley took a shot from the left point. Holmstrom was able to deflect the puck in from in front of the net, even though Darryl Sydor was trying to shove him out of the way.
The Stars scored a controversial goal a few minutes later to even the game. Video replay later showed that an icing call should have been made, as Lidstrom touched the puck before the Dallas player did, but the linesman didn't see it and waved off the call. That led directly to Niko Kapanen's shot which Brenden Morrow tipped in for the equalizer.
The third period was intense on both sides. Play went repeatedly end to end, with neither team able to get more than one shot away before the defensemen or the goalies pounced on the rebounds. The overtime went just the same way. The Red Wings had a good chance to make the win when Scott Young was sent out for high sticking with just 2:21 left in overtime. They did set up some good chances, but then Brendan Shanahan was penalized for holding the stick, which gave the teams 1:01 of 3-on-3 play, followed by 20 seconds of Dallas power play time to close the game and the regular season series.
The final count of shots on net was 29-28 in Detroit's favor. The Red Wings next game will be at home on New Year's Eve against the St. Louis Blues.
Notes: Holmstrom's goals were his 8th and 9th of the season. Last season, he scored only 8 total.... Coach Dave Lewis was full of praise for his fourth line of Holmstrom, Avery, and Devereaux. "They played a very good game again," he said after yesterday's win over Nashville. "They're maximizing their minutes and contributing goals.".... The point gained from the tie with the Stars gives the Red Wings a total of 50 points and puts them in sole possession of first place in the NHL standings.
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