The Nashville Predators
can’t get a bounce or a break … or a win against the Detroit Red Wings
For the second straight game in their Western Conference quarterfinal series, fortune smiled on the Wings. This time, Kris Draper’s go-ahead goal went into the net off a Predator, Nicklas Lidstrom scored on a play in which a teammate could have been called for a penalty and Nashville had a goal waved off. The result: a 4-2 victory for the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena and a two-game lead in the best-of-seven series.
Two days earlier, the Red Wings took advantage of what appeared to be good fortune in Game 1 when offsides wasn't called just before they scored the game-winning goal.
The eighth-seeded Predators can only hope the calls and bounces go their way Monday night at home in Game 3 against the NHL's top-seeded team.
''We proved that we can play with them,'' Predators center Radek Bonk said. ''Just lost because of a couple of lucky bounces.''
The luckiest bounce came at the five-minute mark of the second period. Nashville had tied the game at 2-2 on goals by Alexander Radulov at 2:19 and Jordin Tootoo just 11 seconds later. But the Wings regained the lead for good when Draper pushed the puck to the front of the net and it went in off a Predator's skate.
Tomas Holmstrom gave Detroit some insurance when he scored at 10:03 of the final period.
The Predators were upset by a non-call on Lidstrom’s goal at 39 seconds of the middle period — a play in which Holmstrom, one of the NHL’s top crease-crashers, could have been called for goaltender interference but wasn’t.
''When I really watched it in review, his feet were in the blue (crease),'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. ''According to the rules, you can't be in the blue.''
Trotz was also seething that Nashville wasn't credited with a goal early in the game because the net was knocked out of place.
''The puck was clearly in the net and the net was on its moorings,'' he said. ''The explanation was that they were about to blow the whistle. I think that's a bailout.''
A statement from NHL Hockey Operations said there was no video review of the play, noting that. “This is not a reviewable play, as the referee's judgment (Dan Marouelli) was that the play was dead.”
Naturally, Wings coach Mike Babcock disagreed with Nashville’s complaints.
''We had two high-end officials that are doing everything they can, just like us, to get to the Stanley Cup Finals,'' Babcock bristled afterwards. ''If you think for one second those guys aren't doing the best they can, you're mistaken.''
The happiest Wing was Darren McCarty, who opened the scoring 2:26 into the game by knocking a rebound past Dan Ellis. McCarty, who’s making a comeback from personal problems, grinned and jumped off the ice like a little kid after scoring his first NHL goal since April 25, 2006.
The sellout crowd erupted when McCarty, always a fan favorite, lit the red light.
“I heard it, of course I heard it. What can I say?” McCarty said. “Those moments are definitely ones you cherish and I’ll cherish that one. It’s just great to be on this team, its great to play, and its great to chip in and it’s the best time of the year. This is what a lot of us in here are made for, it’s the playoffs and hopefully it will continue.”
Babcock was delighted for McCarty.
''You can't help but cheer for people that are trying to get their life back on track,'' he said. ''Especially with a guy like that has worked so hard and is one of the favorite sons in Detroit.''
So is Dominik Hasek, who finished with 25 saves — but made 15 of them in the first period to keep Nashville off the board.
“Dom’s the story,” Babcock said. “Tonight in the first period we turned the puck over and gave up more chances than we would give up in five games, I thought, in the first period. I’m talking quality now. And I thought Dom was fantastic.”
The play of the game might have been Babcock’s timeout at 4:46 of the second period after his team had coughed up its 2-0 lead and was running around in its own zone. Draper scored 14 seconds later.
“All I said was, are we better than this?” Babcock said when asked what he told his team. “Let’s just settle down, play with poise and do our job. We got a smart group, they were doing that with themselves anyways, we just thought that it was time to get back on track.”
Stars take two-game lead over Anaheim with 5-2 win | Video
The Dallas Stars are halfway to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Anaheim Ducks are halfway to being deposed champions.
Dallas got goals by Mike Modano and Brad Richards 55 seconds apart early in the third period and grabbed a two-game lead in its Western Conference quarterfinal series with a 5-2 victory over the Ducks at Honda Center.
Modano’s screened slap shot sailed over Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s left shoulder at 5:47 for the Stars’ second power-play goal of the night and sixth of the series, breaking a 2-2 tie. Richards quickly put Dallas up by two when he finished off a 2-on-1 break with Loui Eriksson by ripping a wrist shot past Giguere. Eriksson’s goal with 5:24 remaining triggered an exodus to the parking lots.
It may also signal the beginning of the end of the Ducks’ reign as champions. Games 3 and 4 are in Dallas on Tuesday and Thursday, and the Ducks lost three of their four visits to the American Airlines Center during the regular season. Only 37 of 280 teams that have been down 2-0 in a series have rallied to win. "We are all guilty of not playing as good as we can right now," Giguere said. "We’re not making the saves, not playing well defensively and not scoring enough goals. All together it’s pretty ugly out there. We have to do a better job."
The Ducks played much more physical hockey than they did in Thursday’s 4-0 loss, but they were hurt again by penalties — and Dallas’ ability to score on the power play. The Stars scored all their goals in Game 1 with the man advantage and got two more — including Modano’s game-winner — in Game 2.
“We knew special teams would be a big part of this series,” Dallas captain Brenden Morrow said. “We had two big kills early in the third period, and Modano’s goal was the difference in the game.”
Mike Ribeiro got the Stars off to a fast start with a breakaway goal 6:28 into the game. Ribeiro blocked a shot by Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin at the Dallas blue line, raced in alone and beat Giguere with a high backhander for the only goal of the first period.
"We kept hearing that they were going to come out strong, but we said why can't we come out strong?" Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "That was our mindset from the beginning of the game, and we kept that throughout."
Jere Lehtinen made it 2-0 when he knocked in a rebound at 1:28 of the second period for a power-play goal after Chris Pronger knocked the rebound of Stephane Robidas’ shot away from Giguere as the goaltender tried to cover the puck.
Anaheim finally got its first goal of the series at 3:41 when Teemu Selanne tipped Scott Niedermayer’s point shot up and over Marty Turco on the Ducks’ first shot of the period. That goal energized the Ducks, who began hitting everything in a white uniform and got the tying goal at 16:19 when Travis Moen took a pass from Todd Bertuzzi and tucked a shot between Turco and the left post.
“We were down 2-0 and we battled hard and came back," Giguere said. "I thought we were doing a good job and it was looking good for the third period.”
Anaheim started the third period with a power play and got another chance when Richards was called for tripping at 2:41. But the Stars killed that one as well, then made the Ducks pay for Bobby Ryan’s hooking penalty at 5:06.
“As soon as they scored that third goal on the power play after we had two power plays, I guess it just collapsed us,” Giguere said. “It’s just unacceptable."
For the Ducks to come back from the 0-2 deficit, they’ll have to stay out of the penalty box and improve their work on special teams. Dallas has had 13 power plays in the first two games and cashed in on six of them. Anaheim is 1-for-9.
“Special teams cost us in the first two games,” Beauchemin said.
The Stars are two wins away from their first playoff series victory since 2003.
"Every year is a different year, and every year has a different feeling," Tippett said. "Hopefully this team is finding its way. We still have a long way to go. I love the way we came in here and competed, but they are the defending Cup champs, and we still have a lot of work to do. This series is just getting going."
The Ducks were nowhere near as good on the road as they were at the Honda Center during the regular season. But Scott Niedermayer feels getting away from home may actually be a benefit.
“We have to realize that we still have life and two days here to regroup," he said. "Maybe that will be good. We’ll get on the road, have a little change of scenery and go from there."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.