Stars beat Wings to stay alive
John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist
It’s still hockey season in Dallas, at least for another couple of days. Mike Modano and Marty Turco made sure of that.
Modano scored the tie-breaking goal early in the third period and Turco made 33 saves as the Stars stayed alive in the Western Conference Finals with a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
“We were looking for a better team effort, and that's what we got right from Marty out,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said of his team’s best performance in the series. “I thought all our best players stood up tonight.”
Henrik Zetterberg’s goal 49 seconds into the third period had tied the game at 1-1 before Modano one-timed a feed from Sergei Zubov past Chris Osgood at 5:35 to put Dallas ahead to stay. Brenden Morrow added an insurance goal as the Stars ended the Wings’ nine-game playoff winning streak — they hadn’t lost since dropping Game 4 of their opening-round series against Nashville.
Loui Eriksson opened the scoring late in the second period to help Dallas avoid what would have been only the third four-game sweep in the franchise’s 40-year history. The goal came about 12 minutes after the Wings had what would have been the game’s first goal disallowed when Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom was ruled to have been in the crease.
''It was a pretty intense, desperate game from everyone on our side,'' said Turco, who played his best game of the series. ''We needed that to be successful. We'll have to continue like that just to have a chance.''
The Wings still lead the series 3-1 and get another chance to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since winning it all in 2002 when they host Game 5 on Saturday afternoon. The Stars are trying to become only the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a series — only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders have done it.
It won’t be easy, but the Stars saw their 3-0 lead over San Jose in the previous round turn into a 3-2 nailbiter before they won Game 6 in four overtimes to close out the series — so they know there’s still hope.
“We need a thread of life. Now we got a thread of life,” Tippett said. “The two days off will really help us. We've got some momentum, so we've got to use that to our advantage now. You go in there and steal a game out of there. Now you got it to 3-2. Now the ball's rolling the right way.
… We'll see what happens.”
With the sellout crowd at American Airlines Center roaring from the opening draw, Turco had to be sharp just 1:45 into the game when Holmstrom knifed through the defense and was alone. Turco was able to get his stick on the Swedish winger’s shot from close-in.
Osgood was tested just over a minute later when Antti Miettinen took Ribeiro’s drop pass in the left circle. He took the 15-foot wrister in his chest, then got a break a couple of minutes later when Nicklas Grossman’s rip from the right circle clanged off the post, seconds before Niklas Kronwall was called for tripping Toby Petersen at 5:16. But the Stars managed just one shot during the power play, a straightaway drive from 60 feet that was deflected by Modano but stopped by Osgood.
The Stars kept pushing the tempo and earned a second power play at 9:43 when Nicklas Lidstrom was called for taking down Joel Lundqvist, who was crashing the net looking for a pass. But again, the Stars managed little time in the offensive zone and had just one harmless shot at Osgood.
Detroit took its third straight penalty when Darren McCarty was called for holding the stick of Miettinen at 13:12. This time, the Wings held Dallas without a shot, largely by keeping the Stars to the outside and getting their sticks in the way of stray pucks.
Neither team had a good chance the rest of the way, with the period ending scoreless and the Stars outshooting the Wings 9-5. Detroit gave Osgood plenty of help by blocking eight Dallas shots.
The Wings got their first power play at 6:43 when Stephane Robidas was called for holding Darren Helm, and thought they had broken the scoreless tie at 7:34 when Pavel Datsyuk rifled a shot from the right circle past Turco. But the goal was waved off by referee Kelly Sutherland, who ruled that Holmstrom was in the crease.
“Kelly is a good referee,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He just blew the call. That's life.”
Said Turco: “I couldn't move freely to make that save on the shot. I really don't think it's a bad call. I don't think it's black and white like it used to be. It's the referee's discretion."
In Game 1, Holmstrom was clearly in the crease when a shot hit him, went into the net and was credited as a goal. This time, it looked like his feet were out of the crease as he leaned back toward Turco.
“He said his butt was in the blue. Well, it clearly wasn't in the blue,” Babcock said. “What happens is, these referees, just like us, they prepare their team, they prepare the referees. So they tell them about guys so that they're watching for stuff. Well, watch for it — but it's got to happen. You can't dream it up.”
By the midway mark of the period, the Wings had outshot the Stars 10-1.
Turco made his best save of the game with 8:13 left in the period when he stopped Valtteri Filppula’s blast from the left circle, then was able to keep the rebound out of the net during a scramble. At 12:20, the Wings got their second power play when Morrow was called for cross-checking Mikael Samuelsson.
Detroit generated nothing on the power play, but got a third chance when Steve Ott took a needless penalty by elbowing Brian Rafalski. The Wings had a pair of shots, but again came up empty on the scoreboard.
Eriksson gave Osgood his first good test of the period with just over two minutes to play, speeding down the right wing and cutting to the net before getting off a backhand that was turned aside.
But Eriksson didn’t miss his next chance, giving the Stars their first lead of the series by scoring with 22.7 seconds left in the period. Osgood stopped Robidas’ shot from near the boards in the right circle; however, Eriksson was at the top of the crease and the puck bounced off the goaltender, hit his leg and trickled into the net and he tried to poke it with his stick.
''It hit my body and then hit the stick,'' Eriksson said. ''I was just standing there. I didn't hit it with my hand. I knew it was good. When I started I was standing outside. ... I was just trying to stay in front. It hit me and went in.''
Despite being outshot 14-6 in the period, the Stars were up 1-0 after 40 minutes — the first time Detroit trailed after two periods since Game 4 of the opening round against Nashville, the Wings’ last loss.
The Stars’ lead lasted just 49 seconds into the third period, when Petersen’s bad pass in the Detroit zone sprung the Wings on a 3-on-2 rush. Pavel Datsyuk picked off the pass, carried into the Dallas zone and fed Zetterberg, who whipped a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot past Turco’s glove for his 10th playoff goal.
Turco preserved the tie less than two minutes later when he got a toe on Helm’s backhander from the slot. With the Wings controlling play, Eriksson gave Detroit its fourth consecutive power play when he took down McCarty and was called for interference at 3:14. But just as the penalty was expiring, Dallas’ Brad Richards broke up a play at his own blue line and was hauled down by Rafalski to prevent a breakaway — earning a tripping penalty.
The Stars finally cashed in on a power play by working the puck around to isolate Dan Cleary, who had broken his stick. Sergei Zubov, camped in the corner to Osgood’s right, found Modano in the slot for a one-timer that caught the top corner at 5:35.
It was Modano’s fifth goal — all on the power play — and first of the series. The point was his 145th in Stanley Cup play, breaking a tie with Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios for the most by a U.S.-born player. Modano broke the regular-season points record for American players early in the season.
“We were able to get it set up finally,” Modano said of the goal. “Zubov down low on that side is someone that can really thread the needle, find the open guy. Once it came down to him, I was able to get off a little bit, get the shot off before (Kris) Draper came behind me.”
With the Wings pressing for the equalizer, Turco stopped Datsyuk’s deflection with 6:31 left before the Detroit forward crashed into him. The puck barely stayed out of the net before the whistle blew.
Morrow finally gave the Stars some insurance at 14:34 when he took Mike Ribeiro’s pass and fired a shot from between the hash marks past Osgood’s glove for his ninth of the playoffs and first in the series.
Dallas survived a late scare when Morrow was called for delay of game with 2:17 left and Modano was penalized for hooking with 36 seconds to go, giving the Wings a two-man edge. The Stars survived a wild scramble over the last half-minute to escape with a win — and some life.
“It's amazing things you can do, you know, when you bond together,” Turco said. “When you're down 0-3 in the Conference Finals, there's no greater time to bond and play together.
“Our situation really doesn't change much going into Detroit. We're gonna need to continue to have that feeling. To say it's easy to quit, you know, I'm sure it is. But I don't think anybody does anything easy in our locker room.
Babcock said his team had its chances and couldn’t finish.
“We had every opportunity in the world to score, and we didn't,” he said. “The goalie was good. They were desperate. You know, I don't think we were surprised by their effort in any way. It's what we expected.
“We weren't able to finish it. We had some opportunities on the power play and were unable to get it done.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.