Wings advance to Finals with 4-1 win
Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer
Get ready for one heck of a Stanley Cup Final.
Despite a tremendous comeback by the Dallas Stars, the Detroit Red Wings left no doubt on Monday night as to which team would represent the Western Conference against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Henrik Zetterberg and Dallas Drake each had a goal and an assist, and Chris Osgood made 28 saves as the Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2002 with a convincing 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at the American Airlines Center.
The Red Wings – who won the President’s Trophy with 115 points during the regular season – will host the Pens in Game 1 on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. Game 2 will be played next Monday before the series shifts to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4 next Wednesday and Saturday. The Penguins are 8-0 at Mellon Arena this postseason. No President’s Trophy winner has reached the Stanley Cup Final since the 2002 Red Wings.
After watching their 3-0 series lead trimmed to 3-2, the Red Wings made sure there would be no Game 7 – they dominated from the drop of the puck and took a 1-0 lead just 3:45 into the game. They would lead 3-0 before the end of the first period, during which time they outshot the Stars 13-6.
“We thought we were going to be good,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t play bad last game. We were nervous early. We’ve got a professional team. We just talked about doing what we do and getting started on time and doing it harder and for longer. We drove the net hard early and we were rewarded.”
Indeed they were, as Draper’s effort early ultimately led to the game’s opening goal. With the teams at even strength, Draper was able to swat Drake’s feed in front past Stars goalie Marty Turco for his third goal of the playoffs. It was just the start Detroit needed after dropping the previous two games of the series, as the Wings scored only once in each contest.
“You need everybody to contribute to be successful,” Babcock said. “I thought we really got that tonight. Draper’s goal was a great example for everyone. To me, those are real team things. I thought we got a good contribution from everyone.”
Draper – who played his first NHL game with the Winnipeg Jets during the 1990-91 season – understands how invaluable contributions are from role players at this time of year. Not only did he give the Red Wings an early 1-0 lead, he also relieved some pressure off the likes of Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk
to provide the offense.
“This is why we’re moving on – it’s a total team effort,” Draper said. “Everybody was talking about how Pav and Hank have to dominate a hockey game, and the one thing we kept saying is, ‘We know they’re going to do that. We just need some secondary scoring.’ That’s when we’re at our best.”
Detroit was at its best throughout the first period. Datsyuk put his team up by a pair with a power-play goal just under eight minutes later, as he fought off Nicklas Grossman
for control of the puck right in front of the net and roofed a wrist shot over Turco for his ninth goal of the postseason.
Drake then chipped in with his first goal of the playoffs with 3:43 remaining in the first, when he was able to poke his own rebound past Turco after Brett Lebda threw the puck in front from the end boards.
“I know I don’t score a lot of goals or get a lot of points, but it’s gratifying to contribute when you can,” Drake said.
Osgood – who improved to 10-2 in the postseason and passed Terry Sawchuk for the most playoff wins in franchise history (48) – gushed about Drake’s contributions to the hockey club. Drake, who turned 39 in February, has never won a championship in his career. Ironically, Drake entered the League in 1992 with the Red Wings.
“He’s the first star,” Osgood said. “Dallie does so many things for us – blocking shots, big hits. He gives guys energy, and tonight he chipped in with a goal. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t go unnoticed because he’s such a hard worker and does the little things so good. He’s an in-the-trench guy. He’s one of those guys we enjoy playing with. We play hard for him because he’s never won. We want to go out and do it for him.”
Zetterberg put the game out of reach early in the second period with a shorthanded goal at 3:11. With Darren McCarty in the penalty box, Zetterberg intercepted a pass from Stars captain Brenden Morrow
at the Detroit blue line and beat Turco on a breakaway for his 11th goal of the playoffs.
ruined Osgood’s shutout bid 2:17 into the third period with a power-play goal. The Stars defenseman was able to sneak into the slot, where he one-timed a feed from Mike Ribeiro
past the Detroit netminder to make it 4-1.
“Winning in the playoffs, there’s nothing like it,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “The commitment from our whole group was phenomenal. It’s frustrating losing, it’s disappointing losing. But they left everything they had on the ice. Everything.”
Tippett was also optimistic that the experience gained by the team’s younger players during this impressive run will only benefit the franchise moving forward.
“For our young players, (it’s) a great experience,” Tippett said. “For our new leadership group, (it’s) an unbelievable experience. This organization is never satisfied unless they’re going to give everything they have to try to win a championship. We came up a little short.”
As for the Red Wings, they are four wins away from their fourth title in 11 years. Standing in their way are Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, who are 12-2 this postseason and have yet to lose on home ice, winning eight straight games. Detroit, however, has the home-ice advantage.
“They’ve got high skill level, they’ve got big forwards, the back end moves the puck and the goaltender’s playing well,” Babcock said. “You start out with 30 (teams) and I believe in our League now, everybody’s good. For two to be remaining, they must be really good. Their transition is fantastic. They’ve got a bunch of kids who can really skate. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us, but we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.