A matter of inches could end up making a huge difference in the Dallas Stars' season.
Steve Ott scored in the sixth round of the shootout -- a goal that took several minutes of video review to uphold -- and the Stars rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the American Airlines Center on Saturday.
After Jimmy Howard and Alex Auld combined to deny the first 10 shooters in the penalty-shot tiebreaker, Ott backed Howard in with a shot that the goalie swept out of the net right along the goal line.
While referee Rob Martell could be seen initially signaling no goal, he was blocked out as he got close to the net and consulted with referee Mike Leggo and linesman Lonnie Cameron, both of whom had the puck crossing the goal line. As a result, the call on the ice was that Ott's goal was good -- and when replays were inconclusive it stood. Patrick Eaves then missed the net on the Wings' final attempt.
"I thought I saw it cross the goal line," Ott said. "It was close, but it looked like it was … over the line."
Said Stars coach Marc Crawford: "I've heard a lot of different versions, but we got a call to go our way tonight. Whether it was a break or whether it was just the right call, either way it was on the positive side for us. We sorely needed it."
Dallas remained six points behind Los Angeles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Detroit, which is ninth, fell two points behind the Kings.
Wings coach Mike Babcock took a different view of Ott's goal.
"The video replay showed the puck didn't go in the net," Babcock said. "I thought that's why we had video replay. The referee on the goal line called it (no good), but then they determined I guess that he was blocked out (by Howard) and the (second) referee (trailing the play) decided it went in the net."
Howard, who finished with 29 saves, declined to comment, "because if I say anything, I'm just going to get in trouble."
Loui Eriksson forced overtime and all the subsequent commotion when he beat Howard on a backhander from the slot 3:53 into the third period. Brad Richards had started the Stars' comeback from a two-goal deficit with a power-play goal 2:37 into the second.
"We calmed ourselves down, played a great second half of the first period, and then scored a big goal in the third to get to the shootout," Richards said.
The Wings built a 2-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old, with Todd Bertuzzi and Brian Rafalski scoring 4:20 apart. Nicklas Lidstrom set up both goals.
Bertuzzi converted on a breakaway at 5:10 and Rafalski fired a loose puck into the net during a Detroit power play.
Auld was flawless after that, making 26 saves through regulation and overtime before holding off the Wings in the shootout until Ott got his goal.
"We knew we were playing well, we just had to keep it up and keep doing the little things," Auld said. "It paid off. We chipped away at it, and then obviously the big reviewed goal in the shootout that counted, so that's great to see."
While the Stars have Sunday off, the Wings had to fly home for a nationally-televised afternoon game against the Blackhawks.
"I thought our guys played hard today," Babcock said. "We had good goaltending. We've got to prepare for a game tomorrow."
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report