Another year, another 100-point season for the Detroit Red Wings
Detroit reached the century mark for a record-tying eighth consecutive season by rallying from a 3-1 deficit for a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Wings equaled the mark set by the Montreal Canadiens, who reached 100 points in every season from 1974-75 through 1981-82.
“It means a lot to this organization,” said captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who’s been in Hockeytown for all eight 100-point seasons. “It means that we’re real consistent, that we’ve been able to adapt to the new system with the salary cap and everything. We’ve still been able to put away wins and put a competitive team on the ice.”
Pavel Datsyuk had two goals and an assist as the Wings won their fifth in a row and stretched their lead over San Jose in the Western Conference standings to 10 points. The victory also gave the Wings their seventh consecutive Central Division title and assured them of their 17th consecutive playoff berth, the longest active streak in professional sports. Detroit is the first team to be assured of a berth in next month’s playoffs.
They did so thanks to a hot start that enabled them to compensate for a 1-8-2 stretch during an injury-plagued February slump.
“We pride ourselves on starting well, so we don’t have to slug it out with teams in sixth to 10th,” said goalie Chris Osgood, who made 16 saves. “We have the luxury of resting guys when they’re not feeling good, keeping guys out of the lineup and playing some young players to see how they are, because of what we did earlier in the year. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve done that.”
This win wasn’t easy. The Stars scored on the second shift of the game, then broke a 1-1 tie on Jere Lehtinen’s goal 44 seconds into the second period and made it 3-1 when Brenden Morrow beat Osgood at 13:42.
But Datsyuk made it a one-goal game at 16:17 by knocking his own rebound past Marty Turco. That goal that appeared to energize the Wings, who took the lead by scoring goals 25 seconds apart in the first 1:01 of the third period.
"A two-goal lead isn't safe," Morrow said. "Anytime we get any hesitation in our game, it's tough to win, especially against Detroit."
Datsyuk tied it at 3-3 only 36 seconds into the period, beating Turco with a slap shot from just inside the right circle. Mikael Samuelsson was credited with the goal that put the Wings ahead to stay when defenseman Stephane Robidas accidentally knocked in the rebound of his shot.
"The first goal was a bad goal and the second, we didn't check very well," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "Once you give up two quick goals to start a period, it's hard to get the momentum back."
Detroit limited the Stars to just three shots on goal in the final period before Valtteri Filppula hit the empty net with five seconds remaining.
“I thought we slacked off a little bit in the second period,” Lidstrom said. “We made a couple of turnovers, and they got two goals. But I thought we turned it on again in the third. We got a couple of goals real quick, and we played well with the lead.”
With first place in the overall standings all but assured, the Wings had the luxury, for one night at least, of being able to appreciate what they’ve accomplished.
“It means we’ve got a good hockey team,” said coach Mike Babcock, now in his third season with the Wings. “We’ve had a lot of success in the regular season.
“It’s nice to make the playoffs. That’s always the goal at the start of the season — to make the playoffs and try to play your best hockey at the right time of year.”