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Dallas has history of being a tough out

by John Kreiser

Dallas’ 3-1 victory against Detroit on Wednesday night kept the Stars among the most sweep-free teams in NHL history. Stars stay alive
The Dallas Stars may not be able to rally to catch Detroit after losing the first three games in the Western Conference Finals, but at least they won’t be swept.

Dallas’ 3-1 victory against Detroit on Wednesday night kept the Stars among the most sweep-free teams in NHL history. The Stars’ franchise has been swept just twice in 48 seven-game series since joining the League in 1967 -- by Edmonton in 1984 while playing in Minnesota, and by St. Louis in 2001.

Only two teams that have played more than 10 best-of-seven playoff series have been swept fewer times: New Jersey has played 37 series and never been swept, while the New York Islanders have been swept just once in 37 tries.
Not surprisingly, the Montreal Canadiens -- who’ve won 23 Stanley Cups as a member of the NHL -- are the all-time leading sweepers: The Canadiens have played 106 best-of-seven series and swept 21 of them. Detroit is second with 12 sweeps (including one against Colorado in the Western Conference Semifinals), and Boston is next with 11.    

Amazingly, the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the NHL’s original franchises and second to Montreal with 13 Stanley Cups, have swept only three opponents in a seven-game series. After sweeping Detroit in back-to-back Finals in 1948 and 1949, the Leafs went more than half a century before their next sweep -- against Ottawa in the first round in 2001.

The New York Rangers, who have four Cups in their 80-plus NHL seasons, also own only three sweeps.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been swept the most times in best-of-seven series -- 13, four more than the Maple Leafs. Among teams that entered the NHL after 1967, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Los Angeles have the most sweeps against with five.

No semifinal sweeps
-- Dallas' victory against Detroit in Game 4 ensured that there wouldn’t be sweeps in both semifinal series.

That hasn’t happened since 1992, when Pittsburgh and Chicago each won its conference final series in four straight. Pittsburgh then swept the Hawks in the Final. Since the first expansion in 1967, the only other time both semifinal series ended in sweeps was 1972, when the New York Rangers beat Chicago in four straight games, and Boston did the same to St. Louis.

Philadelphia avoided a sweep in the other conference final by beating Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The game marked the sixth time in Flyers history they had faced being swept -- and the first time they avoided it.

Good omens for Wings -- Why didn’t the Detroit Red Wings finish off their sweep against Dallas? Maybe because Tomas Holmstrom didn’t score.

The Wings haven’t lost a playoff game in which Holmstrom scored since 2003. Detroit is 10-0 in that stretch -- the last time Holmstrom scored a playoff goal in a losing playoff effort was in Game 3 of the first round in 2003 against Anaheim.

The Wings also have had two players (actually, the only two players) with three-goal games in this year’s playoffs -- Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit’s 5-2 win against Dallas in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, and Johan Franzen had a pair of hat tricks in the previous round against Colorado. It’s the fourth time in their history that the Wings have had two players get hat tricks in one playoff year; in each of the first three (1943, 1955 and 2002), they won the Stanley Cup.

Datsyuk’s hat trick was a real rarity: It was his first in 518 NHL games, including 73 in the playoffs. It’s not that he hasn’t had chances -- Datsyuk has multiple goals in four of the last five postseason games in which he's scored.

Shoot and win -- There’s an old saying that “you can’t score if you don’t shoot,” and the Red Wings are prime believers. The Wings have won 11 of their 14 playoff games partly because they bombard the net. Detroit has out-shot its opponent in 13 of the 14 games; the only time the Wings were out-shot was Game 3 in the opening round against Nashville, when they lost 5-3 while being outshot 29-26.

Derian Hatcher has been in the penalty box for opponents' power-play goals seven times in the Flyers' 16 playoff games. Hatcher video
Wrong place, wrong time -- It’s been a tough playoff for Philadelphia defenseman Derian Hatcher. Not only has he had to spend a lot of it shutting down the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, he’s paid the price when he’s taken penalties. Hatcher has been in the box for opponents’ power-play goals seven times in the Flyers’ 16 playoff games -- five by himself and twice more for 5-on-3 goals.
That may not seem like a lot, but it is. Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was the regular-season “leader” by being in the box for 13 opposition power-play goals. Hatcher has nearly half that total in one-fifth of the games played. Hatcher has been in the box for his seven goals on only 10 chances.
Three at last -- Dallas broke a seven-game streak of not scoring more than two goals in a game by getting three in its Game 4 win against Detroit. The Stars hadn’t had more than two goals since getting five in a Game 2 win against San Jose in the Western Conference Semifinals. The last team to have a streak that long in the playoffs was the 2000 Colorado Avalanche, which also went seven in a row with two goals or fewer -- as did the 1999 Toronto Maple Leafs. The record is nine, held by the 1928 Montreal Maroons.

Where’s the OT? -- One thing that’s been missing in the conference finals is overtime. Through eight games in the third round, no game has gone to overtime. The last time there were no overtime games in the conference finals was 1995, when the Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Rangers in five games and Detroit topped Colorado in six.

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