DALLAS - Really, it's hard to imagine that Chris Osgood is completely correct in his assessment.
"Just a little altercation that's over with now," the Detroit goalie insisted Sunday, a day after the Red Wings' 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars was marred by an ugly ending.
But don't expect the fracas to be forgotten.
In the closing seconds of Game 2 of the Western Conference final, Osgood used the handle of his stick to poke Dallas' Mike Ribeiro, who responded from behind the net with a two-handed stick slash across the goalie's chest.
"He actually tries to do it. It's not like he accidentally hit me," Ribeiro said, defending himself Sunday after not being around for post-game interviews. "He kind of was bent down, raised up and clipped me in the face."
Ribeiro, Osgood and Stars forward Steve Ott were fined by the league for their actions at the end of Game 2, but all three players will be on the ice Monday night for Game 3 when the best-of-seven series shifts to Dallas with the Red Wings holding a 2-0 lead.
Ribeiro said he was only retaliating.
"If he doesn't do that, I don't think I react, I have no reason to do what I did," Ribeiro said.
Osgood obviously disagreed, saying, "By no means was I trying to hit him in the face with my stick."
What can't be debated is that Dallas is already in a deep hole in its first conference final appearance since 2000. The Stars returned home with 2-0 series leads in each of the first two rounds of this year's playoffs, but wasn't able to duplicate that success against the top-seeded Red Wings.
Detroit will be going for a 3-0 series lead and its ninth straight win, which would be the franchise record for a single post-season. It would also be the longest in the NHL since Montreal won 11 in a row on the way to winning the 1993 Stanley Cup.
"You're not going to rattle us. We've got too much experience for that," Detroit's Darren McCarty said.
While the stage appears set for things to get even more feisty when the series resumes, Mike Modano believes the Stars can't be focused on what happened at the end of Game 2.
"That's probably the most you're going to see of it (Saturday) night, hopefully," Modano said. "They're not a very physical team by any means, but they do play the game. ... And for us to try to get into some street fight ain't going to work. You have to play the game of hockey and right now, they're doing it better than us."
The Red Wings did so in Game 2 without Johan Franzen, who was scratched from the lineup because of concussion-like symptoms. He's had recurring headaches since early in the previous series, and will miss Game 3 as well.
"It caught me by surprise," coach Mike Babcock said. "We'd love to have him. he's a good player. But we've got a good team and we can go on with or without him."
Dallas Drake twisted his knee late in the third period of Game 2, but came back to skate another shift for the Red Wings.
Stars forward Jere Lehtinen left Game 2 with a leg injury, which coach Dave Tippett said was not sustained on the play when he was hit by teammate Brenden Morrow. The coach described Lehtinen's injury as "just soft-tissue stuff" and said the team would see how he feels at the Monday morning skate.
After three power-play goals in the 4-1 series opener, Detroit had only one in Game 2.
"We took a step forward in getting ourselves back into the competitive issues of the series last game, but it will still have to go up another step," Tippett said. "I thought we had much better jump. Our legs looked like they were back to normal a little bit. Now we need some more execution."
Dallas is back home for the first time since its four-overtime, nearly 5 1/2-hour series-clinching victory over San Jose that ended in the early morning hours last Monday.