Game Four Random Babbling

The Red Wings look for their second sweep in as many rounds as they take on the Stars tonight. It’s been ten years since Detroit last lost a playoff game in which they could eliminate their opponents but that was also in the Western Conference Finals, also against Dallas.

Chris Osgood was the goalie then but he’s not the same as he once was. In 1998, Osgood still gave up long goals and could be shaken. Today’s Osgood is one of the most mentally-tough players in the game. Nothing fazes him. Not goals against, not big saves. He’s just in a zone that makes him tough to beat.

He’s been able to do it before (see his reaction to my favorite save of all-time) but never this consistantly.

And that doesn’t even speak to his level of play. He’s better positionally than he’s ever been, getting to where he needs to be and not wasting energy. A bit like how Nicklas Lidstrom plays defense.

So while I like patterns and history and all that, I can’t say that the Wings’ loss in Game Five in 1998 will have anything to do with tonight’s game. Just an interesting stat.

Tonight the Red Wings will be without Johan Franzen, still out with unexplained headaches. The Stars continue to miss Jere Lehtinen, Stu Barnes and Philippe Boucher. Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow didn’t practice yesterday but are expected to go today, both having missed time in Game Three.

Datsyuk’s Hat Trick Puts Red Wings One Win from Finals

Pavel Datsyuk‘s first career hat trick helped carry the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars Monday night, giving Detroit a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals matchup and putting them one win from their fifth Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1995.

Clutch goals by Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg completed the scoring for the Red Wings, who were without leading goal-scorer Johan Franzen for the second game in a row.

Datsyuk’s first goal of the game got the scoring started at 9:27 of the first period.

With the teams skating four-on-four, the Red Wings broke into the Dallas zone on a three-on-two rush. Brian Rafalski helped draw a defender so Zetterberg could send a pass across to Datsyuk. Datsyuk cut to the middle and went to the backhand, whipping a shot off the post and in behind Stars goalie Marty Turco.

Dallas would capitalize on a long shift with heavy pressure in the Detroit zone five minutes later.

Trapped in their own end and scrambling, the Wings couldn’t prevent Mike Modano from sending a pass from low in the corner out to Nicklas Grossman for a one-timer past Chris Osgood, tying the game with 4:47 remaining in the period.

Datsyuk put Detroit back out in front just 37 seconds later from the top of the crease, tipping a centering attempt by Tomas Holmstrom between Turco’s pads for his second of the night.

A lucky bounce pulled the Stars back into a tie with a Brad Richards shot from down low bouncing off of defenseman Brad Stuart and past Osgood at 3:47 of the second period.

With 8:06 left in the period, Hudler’s breakaway goal put Detroit back in front. A stretch pass by Niklas Kronwall left Hudler all alone with Turco before he put a backhander over the goalie’s shoulder.

Zetterberg scored shorthanded just 1:38 into the third period, turning Richards – a forward covering the point on the power play – inside-out on a rush into the Dallas zone, then outwaiting Turco to throw a shot into the net.

With 2:41 left in the game, Datsyuk completed his hat trick. Zetterberg went into a group of four Stars and came out with the puck, sending a cross-ice pass to Datsyuk in the slot for a one-timer past Turco.

Osgood stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced on the night. Turco made 16 saves on 21 shots against.

Neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings had two chances with the extra attacker and the Stars had six.

Detroit will look to close out the series in Game Four on Wednesday.

The Stars were without Jere Lehtinen, Stu Barnes and Philippe Boucher.

Red Wings Take Game Two without Franzen

Missing the NHL’s leading playoff scorer, Johan Franzen, the Detroit Red Wings still claimed victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Two of their Western Conference Finals matchup Saturday night, holding on for a 2-1 win.

Franzen was a late scratch from the game. The team revealed he had been experiencing concussion-like symptoms since early in the second round. He will be re-evaluated on Monday and miss Game Three in Dallas.

With Franzen shelved, the Red Wings got scoring from an unexpected source, as fourth-line rookie Darren Helm got the game’s first goal.

Just 5:56 into the game, Jiri Hudler gained the Dallas zone and sent a pass off to the left wing for a trailing Helm. Helm rifled a shot over the glove of Stars goalie Marty Turco for his first career playoff goal.

Stephane Robidas tied things up on a Dallas power play at 10:41, blasting a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Mike Ribeiro into the open side of Chris Osgood‘s net.

The Red Wings thought they had regained the lead minutes later but an apparent goal by Pavel Datsyuk was called back on a hand-pass.

With 4:47 left in the period they did take the lead back on a power play goal by Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg got the puck from Datsyuk up high and powered a shot past Turco.

The remainder of the game would be played without scoring but was not uneventful.

The teams traded power plays throughout the second period, with each team having short five-on-threes. Defense held strong throughout the rest of the game as the Red Wings preserved their lead and the Stars kept Detroit from pulling further ahead.

In the game’s closing seconds, Osgood stuck out his stick as Ribeiro skated around the net, catching the forward up high. After the clock ran out, Ribeiro swung his stick from the back of the net and caught Osgood high on his chest, earning him a match penalty.

Osgood finished the night with 17 saves on 18 shots. Turco stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced.

Each team went one-for-four on the power play.

The series shifts to Dallas on Monday with the Red Wings carrying a two games to none lead.

The Stars were without forward Stu Barnes and defenseman Philippe Boucher to start the game and lost forward Jere Lehtinen to a leg injury in the first period.

Red Wings Skid Hits Six

The Detroit Red Wings’ losing streak hit six games on Sunday with a 1-0 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Rookie goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 30 shots in his first start of the season but the one goal he allowed was enough for Dallas to get the win, with the Red Wings unable to score on Marty Turco.

Niklas Hagman scored the game’s only goal at 3:13 of the first period, roofing the rebound of a Jere Lehtinen shot over Howard.

The game marked the fourth in a row that the Red Wings were unable to score at even-strength.

Detroit looks to snap the skid Monday night in Colorado.

Wings Win with Third-period Comeback

The Detroit Red Wings scored three goals in the third period to come from behind and defeat the Dallas Stars Monday night in the final game at Joe Louis Arena before the start of the playoffs.

Detroit had allowed goals in the late in the first period and early in the third to fall behind, 2-0, but scored three times in the game’s final seven minutes to erase the deficit and pull into the lead.

With 6:59 remaining in regulation, Johan Franzen deflected a shot from the blue line by Niklas Kronwall past Dallas goalie Marty Turco to put the Red Wings on the board.

Just 2:12 later, Andreas Lilja scored on a rush into the Stars’ zone led by Henrik Zetterberg.

Zetterberg carried the puck along the right wing boards and cut into the right circle, sending a crossing pass to Lilja in the left circle to redirect the puck into the net.

With the Red Wings on the power play and 45 seconds remaining in regulation, Tomas Holmstrom tipped a Zetterberg shot past Turco to put Detroit out in front.

Even with Kirk Maltby in the penalty box for the final half-minute of the game, the Red Wings were able to hold off a Dallas comeback.

Jason Arnott had opened the scoring with 4:50 remaining in the first period.

After Detroit netminder Manny Legace kicked aside a long shot by Philippe Boucher, Arnott dove to poke the puck back under Legace and into the net.

An apparent Stars goal was called off shortly after that thanks to a quick whistle but Dallas scored again at 3:22 of the third period, when Jere Lehtinen deflected a centering pass from Arnott past Legace for a power play goal.

Between the Dallas goals, the game’s main excitement came from a fight between Steve Ott and Cory Cross with 8:45 remaining in the second period. It was just Detroit’s sixth fight of the season.

Legace finished the game with 28 saves on 30 shots while Turco stopped 29 of 32 shots against.

Both teams went one-for-five on the power play.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Tuesday night when they visit the Nashville Predators to close out the regular season.

Detroit was without Steve Yzerman, Pavel Datsyuk, and Mathieu Schneider… With Don MacLean sent back to Grand Rapids, Valtteri Filppula was called up to fill in on the Red Wings’ lineup.

Stars Hand Red Wings First Shootout Loss

The Dallas Stars scored on three of their four shootout shots to defeat the Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, on Saturday. The shootout was only Detroit’s second of the season and their first such loss.

The game appeared to be over after Detroit’s third shooter, Henrik Zetterberg, was unable to get a shot off and the Stars already leading by a goal. After review it was determined that Dallas goalie Marty Turco threw his stick on the play, an infraction resulting in an automatic goal.

Detroit netminder Manny Legace stopped Antii Mietinen to force extra shooters, but when Turco stopped Robert Lang and Mike Modano beat Legace with a quick, high shot, the game was over.

The Red Wings had previously gotten a goal by their second shooter, Jason Williams. Pavel Datsyuk was stopped on their first shot. Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen had scored on Dallas’ first two shots.

The only goals of the game during regulation came in the third period.

The Red Wings opened the scoring 2:53 into the period. With Detroit on a power play, Jason Woolley fired a shot from the high slot that Turco got his pad on. In front of the goal, Tomas Holmstrom picked up the rebound and backhanded it into the net. The goal was Detroit’s eighth-straight on the power play.

Dallas tied the game with 5:12 remaining. Jere Lehtinen one-timed a shot from the slot past Legace on a pass from Jokinen.

The Stars had a power play in the final minutes of regulation and early in overtime but could not convert. Similarly, the Wings could not score on an opportunity with the extra attacker in the overtime period.

Detroit had appeared to score early in the game when Henrik Zetterber knifed the puck out of the air and in behind Turco but it was knocked in with a high stick.

Legace finished the game with 19 saves on 20 shots and one-for-four in the shootout. Turco stopped 27 of 28 shots against as well as two of Detroit’s four shootout attempts.

The Red Wings return to action on Monday when they visit the Minnesota Wild.

Stars Score Six-straight to Down Red Wings

After scoring the first three goals of Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Stars, the Detroit Red Wings allowed six unanswered goals to give Dallas a 6-3 victory.

Niklas Hagman started Dallas’ comeback on a broken play at 2:21 of the second period. Detroit defenseman Brett Lebda ran into goalie Chris Osgood, keeping him pinned at on goalpost with the puck behind the net. Hagman was free for a wraparound attempt at the other post that put the Stars on the board.

With 8:50 left in the period, Jere Lehtinen scored on the power play to bring Dallas within one when a quick one-timer from the right circle deflected off the handle of Osgood’s stick and into the net.

Another power play goal tied the game with 2:01 left in the middle frame. Phillipe Boucher fired a blast from the blue line as Jussi Jokinen perfect screened Osgood, moving aside with just enough time for the puck to get into the net.

Lehtinen scored his second power play goal of the night to give Dallas the lead at 6:17 of the third period when a shot from the point was deflected to him and Osgood was caught out of position.

Just 41 seconds later, the Stars extended their lead on a goal by Niko Kapanen. On a rush with Brendan Morrow, Mathieu Schneider couldn’t cut off the pass and Pavel Datsyuk couldn’t get back in time to stop Kapanen from getting the puck and putting a hard shot past Osgood.

Mikael Tjarnqvist closed the game’s scoring at 8:44 of the third on a shot from the right circle.

Manny Legace replaced Osgood in goal for the remainder of the game.

Detroit had earlier scored the lone goal of the first period and twice in the first two minutes of the second period.

Henrik Zetterberg opened the game’s scoring on a two-man advantage at 3:13 of the first. Schneider looked to shoot from the top of the left circle but passed down low to Zetterberg instead. Dallas goalie Marty Turco couldn’t get over in time and Zetterberg put it in the net.

Schneider scored Detroit’s second goal just 25 seconds in to the second period on a wrist shot from the blue line past the screened Dallas goalie.

Jason Williams added a power play goal 1:07 later on a wrister from the high slot.

Johan Hedberg took over goaltending duties for Dallas after the third Detroit goal.

Osgood finished the game with 17 saves on 23 shots while Legace stopped all nine shots he faced, Turco stopped 10 of 13 shots against, and Hedberg was perfect on 12 shots.

Detroit went two-for-eight on the power play and allowed goals on three of Dallas’ five chances.

The Red Wings are back in action on Tuesday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

Legace Earns Shutout Against Stars

The Dallas Stars kept firing, but Manny Legace kept getting in their way. Legace made 31 saves and earned his second shutout of the season to set the stage for the Red Wings to take a 3-0 win over the Stars. Kirk Maltby scored the game winning goal.

Both teams had their scoring chances in the first period. Brett Hull had a near-breakaway when he intercepted a bad pass by Sergei Zubov, but he was tripped on his way to the net and slid in, bowling over goaltender Marty Turco in the process. Dallas had two well-executed power plays, but Legace was able to hold off the Stars’ snipers.

Maltby opened the scoring early in the second. Derian Hatcher made a good clearing pass to spring Henrik Zetterberg, who flew up the left side with the puck. Darren McCarty kept up on the right side, and Maltby trailed the play up senter. McCarty and Zubov tussled in front of the net, effectively screening Turco, and Zetterberg passed across to Maltby. Maltby’s shot beat Turco low to the stick side.

Hull added to the lead midway through the period. Jason Williams made an excellent pass from the left corner out to Hull at the top of the goal crease, and Hull deflected it gently between Turco’s leg pads.

The Stars came out with more pressure to start the third period, but Legace was ready for them. He kicked out a huge save against Jere Lehtinen early, then held solid until the game was nearly over. Mike Modano thought he’d gotten the Stars on the board with two minutes left, then realized that Legace had dropped into a full split to keep the puck from slipping in through the five-hole.

Modano did actually beat Legace with one minute left to play, but the goal was waved off because the Stars had made a premature substitution by sending out their extra attacker before Turco was off the ice.

The Stars kept trying, but McCarty capped off the scoring by flipping the puck into the empty net with 16 seconds remaining.

Dallas outshot Detroit by a count of 31 to 21. The Red Wings’ next game will be Sunday night against the Nashville Predators.

Steve Yzerman tried to play in spite of having a case of the flu; he played 1:01 in the first period then left because he did not feel well enough to continue… Maltby’s goal was the 100th of his NHL career. Four of those hundred were power play goals, 77 were even-strength goals, and 19 were shorthanded goals… Nicklas Lidstrom was honored at a pre-game ceremony by team owner Mike Illitch for appearing in his 1000th career game on February 29th.

Wings and Stars Tie Again

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.

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.

Happy Hull-o-ween!

Brett Hull came up big time on Halloween night, scoring an assist and two goals, including the game winner, as the Red Wings took revenge on the Dallas Stars, 4-3.

The Stars opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game. Joe Nieuwendyk was in the penalty box for high-sticking, giving the Red Wings a power play opportunity, but Jere Lehtinen was able to pick up the puck on a breakaway from Mike Modano and tip it in behind goalie Manny Legace.

The Wings came back only thirty seconds later. Hull passed to Nicklas Lidstrom, who got the puck to Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov shot the puck while Ed Belfour was screened, and it went into the net to tie the game.

The Stars scored again with 9:05 left in the period. Donald Audette picked up a pass from Sergei Zubov, squeezed between two Red Wings defensemen, and slid the puck under Legace’s left side.

Detroit then scored twice in quick succession. Hull got the equalizer with 7:42 left to play. The Stars’ Brenden Morrow and Detroit’s Maxim Kuznetsov were given offsetting penalties for slashing thirty seconds later. In the resulting four-on-four play, Brendan Shanahan tipped in a shot from the right point by Fredrik Olausson.

The Wings were not able to take their lead into the locker room for break, however. Benoit Hogue picked up an errant pass and fired from the blue line to get past Legace with less than four minutes left in the period.

The second and third periods were both scoreless. Both teams were able to generate multiple opportunities, including four Dallas power plays in a row in the second period, but solid play from Legace and Belfour kept the score even until the overtime.

Only forty-three seconds in, Hull took the pass from Lidstrom and beat Belfour on a three-on-one rush.

Legace stopped twenty shots in his second game back since his neck injury in Saturday night’s game against the Nashville Predators, bringing his record for the season to 4-0-0, and extending his unbeaten streak to fifteen games. The Red Wings generated twenty-eight shots against Belfour.

The Red Wings season record of 11-2-0 is the best thirteen game start in franchise history, and now leads the NHL. They hope to improve to twelve wins Friday night when the team in the second position, the New York Islanders, bring Chris Osgood back to Detroit to play against his old team.

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