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Red Wings looking for another trip to Final

by Adam Schwartz

Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings look to sweep Brenden Morrow and the Dallas Stars out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight in Game 4 of the 2008 Western Conference Finals.
Wednesday night features Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas, where the Stars will try to keep their season alive, trailing 3-0 in the series to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings will look to make their fourth trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 12 years when they invade American Airlines Center for the second time in three days.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

* The Red Wings, who have allowed just four goals in three games in this series, have allowed just seven third-period goals in 13 playoff games. Detroit, which allowed the fewest goals in the League during the regular season with 184, leads the League with four shorthanded goals in the playoffs.

* Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who had a hat trick Monday in Detroit’s 5-2 Game 3 victory against the Stars, is one of just three players with at least eight goals and eight assists in the playoffs. Datsyuk, who is second in the League and on his team with a plus-11 rating, has six goals and three assists for nine points and a plus-10 rating in seven combined regular-season and playoff games against Dallas.

* Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula, who has played 31 career playoff games in just two seasons, is averaging .46 points per game in the playoffs after averaging .46 points per game during the regular season. Filppula, who had a minus-2 rating in 18 playoff games last season, has a plus-5 rating in 13 playoff games this season.

* Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who has won nine straight games since replacing Dominik Hasek in Game 4 of the first round, has yielded more than two goals in just two games during that span. Osgood, who has a 54-37 playoff record, has faced more than 30 shots just two games during the playoffs.   

* Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings during trade deadline day, has a plus-5 rating in his last eight games. Stuart, who had a minus-16 rating in 63 games with the Kings, has a plus-10 rating in 21 combined regular season and playoff games with the Red Wings.

* Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronvall, who averages 21:06 of ice time per game, leads NHL defensemen in points with 11 – all assists. Kronvall, who played just six playoff games last season, is second among Detroit players with 11 blocked shots.

* Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who is one of three nominees for the Norris Trophy for the NHL’s best defenseman, has a plus-10 rating in his last eight games. Lidstrom, who leads the team with an average ice time of 25:14 per game, is third among Detroit defensemen with two goals and seven assists for nine points.

* Dallas center Mike Modano, who had four goals and six assists for 10 points in 12 games in the first two rounds, has one assist and a minus-1 rating this series. Modano, who averaged 26:13 of ice time last playoff season, is averaging just 20:00 of ice time per game this playoff season.

* The Stars, who have allowed 11 goals in three games in this series, have allowed 15 goals in seven home games during the playoffs, including five in Game 3. Dallas, which has a 4-3 home record, has scored 16 goals at home and 23 on the road.

* Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov, who has a minus-20 rating in 49 career regular-season games against the Red Wings, has a minus-3 rating in four combined regular-season and playoff games against Detroit this season. Zubov, who has won the Stanley Cup twice and lost in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final, hasn’t had more than six points in a playoff season since 2003.

* Stars right wing Jere Lehtinen, who had four goals and four assists for eight points in the first two rounds, has no points in the first three games of this series. Lehtinen, who has played 108 playoff games in 10 playoff seasons with the Stars, is tied for eighth in team history with 49 playoff points.

* Dallas left wing Brenden Morrow, who leads the team with eight playoff goals, has a five-game point scoring streak. Morrow, who has been to the Stanley Cup Final in 2000, has a career-high with 14 playoff points – six more than his previous high.

* Dallas center Brad Richards, who had two goals and nine assists for 11 points the first two rounds, has one goal and no assists in three games this round. Richards, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, has scored more than 10 points in two of five playoff seasons.

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