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No goal, no worries for Wings

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT — Mike Babcock’s eyes were practically popping out of his sockets while giving referee Dan O’Halloran an earful.

Nicklas Lidstrom had just scored the opening goal of the Stanley Cup finals. Or so Babcock and 20,066 newly-appointed goal judges thought.

After Lidstrom’s slapshot ricocheted off the goalpost behind Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, O’Halloran immediately called off the goal with 4:40 left in the first period.

Lidstrom wasn’t the problem — Tomas Holmstrom was.

Right before Lidstrom’s shot beat Fleury, Holmstrom whacked his stick between the legs of Fleury. Holmstrom wasn’t in the crease, though, which elicited Babcock’s outcry.

“That’s the rule, you can’t put your stick in the crease now, is it?” Babcock asked at his postgame press conference. “Did they change that when I wasn’t watching?”

Holmstrom’s interference cost the Wings another goal in the last round.

Last time, it was Pavel Datsyuk’s slapper that was whistled a no-goal. But that too was a debatable call — Holmstrom was accused of having his backside in the crease, which was enough to throw off Dallas goalie Marty Turco.

That goal would have been to take the lead in Game 4 in Dallas, which Detroit eventually lost 3-1, denying the Wings of a series sweep.

After the Dallas game, Babcock didn’t like the call.

“What do you want me to say?" he said. "The guy's not in the paint? The guy's out of the paint. That's a reputation call, totally.”

Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary — they’re the kings of the crease. But that drive-to-the-net-and-don’t-stop attitude got Detroit to this point in the playoffs. Babcock didn’t call off the wolves in Dallas, and he’s not about to tell them any different now.

“I just coach the game,” Babcock said of whether they’re coming down too hard on Holmstrom. “I don’t get to referee it.”

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