Red Wings overpower Stars in opener
The Detroit Red Wings proved potent on the power play and pestered netminder Marty Turco to perfection in winning the opener of their playoff series with the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Tomas Holmstrom repeatedly crowded the crease and was rewarded with one goal and one assist as the host Red Wings beat the Stars 4-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference final at Joe Louis Arena.
"Turco has been on fire in the playoffs," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "We cannot let him have space.
"We have to be right there to back him in. If we can do that, we can be successful in the series."
Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula scored the other goals, Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronvall each had two assists and Chris Osgood posted 20 saves as the top-ranked Red Wings seemed unaffected by a week-long layoff.
"They were scared, just like the coaches, that they would not be ready," Babcock said. "A little fear never hurt anybody." "We had to engage right from the get-go," he explained. "We knew if we didn't, they would be all over us.
"I think any time you have won a big series like they have and you have played the overtimes like they did and the emotion, sometimes it is hard to get going right away. I thought we were able to jump on them early."
Detroit is seeking to return to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since winning it all in 2002.
"It has been a balanced scoring and strong team defence," Lidstrom said. "I think it is very comparable to some of the teams we had back in the 1990s."
"I'm not worried about how the Red Wings played, I'm worried about how we played," Stars head coach Dave Tippett said. "That is a game that wasn't even close to the games we played in the playoffs."
Brenden Morrow completed the scoring with the lone goal for the fifth-seeded Stars, who yielded three goals on Detroit's first five power-play opportunities.
"I think we had a good two or three shifts to start the game," he said. "But then, the ice got tilted the other way."
"We lacked a little emotion or jump we had in the other series," Turco said.
Turco turned aside 27 of 31 shots, but he remains winless in 10 visits to Detroit (0-8-2).
"We want to take a lot of shots," Lidstrom said. "But we want to create a lot of traffic in front, too." Rafalski opened the scoring with a power-play goal on a shot from the point less than 4 1/2 minutes into the contest, with Holmstrom parked at the top of the crease to screen Turco.
It was Rafalski's second goal of the playoffs, and came with defencemen Mark Fistric (roughing) and Mattias Norstrum (hooking) in the penalty box.
"We hung him [Turco] out to dry with the 5-on-3 early," Morrow said.
"We didn't get the speed up," Stars forward Brad Richards said. "That is why we took penalties."
Franchise records for Franzen
Franzen outmuscled Stars defenceman Trevor Daley in the crease long enough to make it 2-0, tipping Kronvall's slapshot from the point for a power-play marker with 4:26 left in the first period.
Franzen has scored in five straight playoff games — netting 10 goals over that span — to equal the franchise record set by Gordie Howe in 1949 and matched by Ted Lindsay in 1952.
Howe repeated the feat in 1964.
"I don't want to be mentioned with them," Franzen said of the Hall of Famers. "I still want to look at myself as a hard worker out there."
Franzen tops the Red Wings in these playoffs with a franchise-record 12 goals — seven shy of the NHL record shared by Reggie Leach and Jari Kurri — and he is riding a remarkable streak with 27 goals in 27 games dating back to the regular season.
"I don't think about those records right now," he said. "Maybe I will look back on it after the season or when I quit playing."
Detroit potted a third power-play goal 6:40 into the second period as Lidstrom's wrist shot from the faceoff circle grazed Holmstrom's right leg as he pushed Turco deep into the crease.
"When they're in the blue paint [crease], our goaltender is supposed to have the ability to do his job," Tippett said. "On the third goal, that obviously was not the case."
"It was a penalty, if you ask me," Turco said. "Those ones should be waved off.
"But he certainly is willing to pay the price. He did and he got rewarded for it."
Mikael Samuelsson then sprung Filppula, who burst between Fistric and Norstrom and beat Turco to the stick side for his third at the 15:37 mark.
"We cannot sit around and watch," Morrow said. "We have got to initiate, play our style."
"We have got to get in the shooting lanes, not let those shots get through. We have got to do better on the penalty kill."
Morrow's team-high eighth, on a rebound, spoiled Osgood's shutout bid with 67 seconds left in the period.
Steve Ott, who notched the assist, rang a shot off the left post on a breakaway in the waning minutes.
"We know what we did wrong," Stars forward Mike Ribeiro said. "We will fix that and be better next game."
"There is no question that, the next game, they will be back and rolling," Babcock said.
Detroit has never lost a playoff series to Dallas, winning the three previous meetings, including the 1998 conference final in six games.
The best-of-seven series resumes Saturday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET).
With files from the Associated Press