NHL Playoffs: Red Wings 5, Stars 2
DALLAS ó This is how ridiculously good the Detroit Red Wings are playing: They lose the NHL’s top scorer this postseason and their regular-season scoring leader steps up with the first hat trick of his entire career while one of his linemates scores a demoralizing short-handed goal.
Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in the first period and again with 2:41 left, and Henrik Zetterberg added two assists and the short-hander, sending Detroit past the Dallas Stars 5-2 Monday night for a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The Red Wings won their ninth straight playoff game, the best streak in a single season in their franchise’s proud history. It’s also the longest in the NHL since Montreal won 11 in a row on its way to winning the Stanley Cup in 1993.
More importantly, this victory sends Detroit into Game 4 on Wednesday night with a chance to skate into the Cup finals for the fourth time in 11 seasons.
“There’s a lot of experience in here,” center Kris Draper said. “We’re not getting caught up in the little things. We have a chance to eliminate a great hockey team. We have to get focused and be ready to play a great game Wednesday night.”
As promised, Detroit players came out more focused on the scoreboard than settling a score with Ribeiro for his two-handed baseball swing of his stick into the chest of Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood as Game 2 ended. Ribeiro was ticked off that Osgood popped him in the chops with the handle of his stick. The league fined both players, but neither was suspended.
Instead, the early energy came from Dallas being home for the first time since a four-overtime victory against San Jose that ended the previous round. The Stars responded with strong play early, but couldn’t get the puck past Osgood. Then Datsyuk beat Dallas goalie Marty Turco midway through the opening period ó and again later in the period, just 37 seconds after the Stars tied it.
Dallas tied it at 2 on a goal that actually was a pass redirected by a defenseman’s skate. The Red Wings shrugged it off, though, going back ahead for good when Jiri Hudler corralled a long outlet pass from Niklas Kronvall, skated right at Turco and beat him with a backhanded shot. The Stars had a good chance to tie it yet again when they got a power play 18 seconds into the third period, but Zetterberg wound up being the one to score.
Then Datsyuk capped the scoring, ringing up a hat trick for the first time in 73 playoff games and 518 total NHL games. Funny thing is, he’s gotten into the habit of scoring a lot in the playoff games he scores in; he’s had multiple goals in four of the last five postseason games in which he’s scored.
“His lowest level is really high,” Zetterberg said. “He plays real good for us night-in and night-out. You know you can really trust him because he will play good offense and good defense.”