Red Wings 1 win from Stanley Cup final
Pavel Datsyuk scored a hat trick Monday night as the Detroit Red Wings took a commanding 3-0 lead over the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference final.
Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg also scored in Detroit's 5-2 win in Dallas.
Zetterberg, who added two assists, has points in his last seven games and now leads all NHL players with 18 points in the playoffs.
"I think they needed goals so it made it easier for us. We got some odd-man rushes and we took advantage of that," said Zetterberg.
Hudler broke a 2-2 tie late midway through the second period with a breakaway goal past Stars goalie Marty Turco, with Zetterberg adding a short-handed marker early in the third and Datsyuk completing his hat trick with less than three minutes remaining.
Nicklas Grossman and Brad Richards scored for Dallas, which has yet to hold the lead in the series.
The Red Wings have won nine consecutive games. The record for one playoff campaign is 11, held by three teams.
Detroit will have a chance to sweep the Stars in Dallas on Wednesday night and advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2002.
"There's a lot of experience in here," centre 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."
Dallas had several good scoring chances in the first half of the game, but Detroit's supreme puckhandling ability was on full display.
All but one Red Wings goal started in their own end, featuring crisp passing and top-notch finishing.
Defenceman Brian Rafalski helped engineer the offence, finishing with two assists.
After being limited to 39 shots in two games in Detroit, the Stars came out with a jump but hurt themselves with an 0-for-6 power-play ledger.
Chris Osgood finished with 16 saves and is undefeated in nine playoff starts. He prevented the Stars from taking an early lead with stops on Stephane Robidas and Toby Petersen.
Dallas defenceman Sergei Zubov turned the puck over in Detroit's end and the Red Wings quickly converted the miscue into a goal, as Zetterberg found Datsyuk alone in the slot for a 1-0 lead at the 9:27 mark.
"We've played a lot of games together and you find that chemistry and some nights it works and [is] better than others," said Zetterberg.
The Stars got the goal back over five minutes later after holding puck possession in Detroit's zone for over a minute. Mike Modano's backhand pass from the corner was converted by Grossman.
Datsyuk restored the Detroit lead with just 37 seconds left in the first when he skated to the slot and redirected Tomas Holmstrom's pass into the net.
"We played strong early. We had that one shift where we ended up getting the game tied up, so you feel like you've got a lot of momentum going your way, and then the next shift we go and we give it right back, and those are demoralizing things," said Dallas coach Dave Tippett.
Richards nets one, misses 2nd chance
Richards got his first goal in seven games with a little luck early in the second for Dallas. He threw the puck into the crease, where it banked off Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart and past Osgood.
Richards missed an opportunity for a second goal a few minutes later, when Osgood slid over with a pad save. The veteran goalie has not allowed more than two goals in each of his last four games.
"It was a little anxious out there," Osgood said. "We weathered some storms early."
Storm weathered, Hudler snuck behind the Dallas defence and took off on a successful breakaway, courtesy of Niklas Kronwall's 11th assist of the playoffs. Hudler's backhander went off the right post behind Marty Turco.
Zetterberg's short-handed marker 1:38 into the third effectively killed Dallas's spirit. Zetterberg drew Turco wide left and lifted the puck over the goaltender.
"Once they got that short-handed goal in the third, we just chased [the puck], and that's where we are," said Tippett. "This team has battled and been resilient all year and we're not changing a thing.
"We'll go and practice tomorrow … and gear up for Game 4 and compete our hardest and see if we can win a game."
Zetterberg has seven goals and eight assists during his point streak.
The Swede displayed his deft stickhandling late in the game, outmanoeuvring three Stars and passing to Datsyuk for the hat trick.
"We tried to clean up the execution but it wasn't there," said Mike Modano, who set up Dallas' first goal. "Breakdowns here and there you can't afford against those guys. You pretty much need to play a mistake-free game."
Datsyuk now has eight goals in the playoffs, tied for third overall.
Game 3 featured just 20 penalty minutes overall despite the bad blood spilled at the end of the previous game. Ribeiro, Osgood and Steve Ott all received undisclosed fines for their parts in the Game 2 fracas.
Modano and Ribeiro have not scored in the last seven games for the Stars.
Turco finished with 16 saves.
"I don't feel I've given our guys enough of a chance to win," Turco said. "But it's a seven-game series so we'll see what happens."
Dallas was without veteran Jere Lehtinen (leg injury) on Monday and filled the spot with Chris Conner, playing with Dallas for the first time since January.