DETROIT – For a time Thursday, it looked like hockey history might slip through the Red Wings’ grasp – for at least one more day.
Though out-shot and out-played for much of the early going, the Dallas Stars managed to build a two-goal lead at the game’s midway point. For a while it looked like veteran goalie Marty Turco might even earn his first career victory at Joe Louis Arena.
But a Wings’ comeback denied the former Michigan standout, and propelled the home team to a milestone win for the ages.
With their 5-3 win Thursday, the Red Wings join the Montreal Canadiens as the only NHL teams to reach the100-point plateau for eight straight seasons. The win also clinched their seventh straight Central Division title and 17th consecutive playoff berth – the longest active streak in professional sports.
“Being down 3-1 and I didn’t think we had given up that much,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We got behind and we were able to battle back, so it was a good win over us and it’s nice to make the playoffs. It’s always your goal at the start – to make the playoffs and try to play your best hockey at the right time of the year.”
Detroit (47-18-6) can still tie its franchise-best single season win record, but they must win all 11 remaining games to do so. The Red Wings went 58-16-8 in the 2005-06 season, Babcock’s first season with the organization.
When it comes to the streak, the Red Wings and Canadiens have legendary hall of fame coach Scotty Bowman in common. Bowman led Montreal through the first five years of its streak from 1974-79, while winning four straight Stanley Cup titles.
Bowman was at the helm of the Wings’ first three 100-point seasons from 1999-2002.
The Wings are now 5-0 in March, a contrast from where the team was in February when they struggled to a 4-8-2 mark.
To a player, each guy in the Wings’ locker room acknowledged the record, but didn’t over-dramatize it.
“It’s an accomplishment that we’re proud of here,” said goalie Chris Osgood, who made 16 saves on Thursday for his 25th win. “It’s not easy winning games in the regular-season. I mean, we’re proud of the way we start every year, where we pride ourselves so we don’t have to slug it out with all of the teams for the final month of the season. We have the luxury of resting guys that aren’t feeling good right now because of the beginning of the year. We’re proud that we’ve done that.”