The Detroit Red Wings dominated early and then held off a desperate Dallas Stars team in the third period for a 4-1 win on Monday, advancing out of the Western Conference and into the Stanley Cup finals.
Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Dallas Drake scored in the first period for Detroit, with Henrik Zetterberg adding another goal on a short-handed breakaway early in the second to help the Red Wings to a 4-2 series win.
Dallas finally scored in the third, when Stephane Robidas became the only Stars player to beat Chris Osgood on 29 shots.
Detroit will mark its 23rd appearance as a franchise in the Stanley Cup final. The Red Wings have won the trophy 10 times previously, including in the team's last three tries (1997, 1998 and 2002).
Detroit will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a final series that starts on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET (CBC, CBCSports.ca).
"Just an absolute potent offence," Draper said of Detroit's next foe. "Everyone knows what [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin can do. Their supporting cast is dangerous."
Dallas advanced farther than the franchise had since its consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup final in 1999 and 2000.
Stars coach Dave Tippett said he was proud of his team, which won tough series over Anaheim and San Jose.
"We lost to a great hockey team, but when you see behind the scenes the energy and the sweat and the commitment from those players, you're seeing guys with welts all over their body and they can't wait to get on the ice the next day," Tippett said.
"I can honestly look at those guys, start with Brenden Morrow, and they left everything they had on the ice," he added. "Everything."
Marty Turco, coming off an outstanding performance in Game 5, struggled on Monday night and finished with 25 saves for Dallas.
The face goal
Detroit came out with jump, taking five shots on net in the first 84 seconds. The fifth shot was a goal, as the puck went off Draper's face in the crease as he tangled with Turco.
"I think there's six stitches in there and three teeth don't look good. At this time of year if I have to lead with my face, I'm more than happy to do it," Draper told CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. "I don't think I'm that good-looking, anyway, so we can just take the win and move on."
Osgood encountered a moment of difficulty early, unaware that a Brenden Morrow shot was safely under him. It was a crucial early save, and after the Stars were unsuccessful on the power play, Detroit struck on their next opportunity, midway through the first.
Dallas defenceman Nicklas Grossman couldn't clear the puck near his skates; Datsyuk pounced and put the roundel behind Turco.
Drake made it 3-0 at the 16:41 mark with a goal remarkably similar to Draper's tally. Uncontested in the crease, Drake won the battle of the loose puck over Turco, who thought he had it in his glove.
"We wanted to come out with a good effort in the first period, really get a good push on them early on," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom told HNIC. "We got some lucky breaks during the first throwing the puck to the net, but that's what we wanted to do."
The Stars had a chance to get one back when Detroit's Darren McCarty took a penalty early in the second, but Zetterberg burst through on a short-handed breakaway, getting Turco to bite on a fake before lifting the puck into the net.
By the end of the second period, Dallas had gone 0-for-6 on the power play.
The Stars finally got a goal with the man advantage at 2:27 of the third. Seconds after Valtteri Filppula of the Red Wings missed a great short-handed chance, Robidas snapped a shot from the point into the net for a 4-1 score.
Dallas put on the pressure but Osgood was equal to the task, making impressive saves on Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley.
Tippett said that team captain Morrow had been playing with leg and shoulder injuries since the second round.
"He's established himself as the lead guy on our team, in the way that he plays and his commitment to winning, and just how our organization wants to be perceived," Tippett said.
Veteran defenceman Chris Chelios was not in the Detroit lineup due to a leg injury. Andreas Lilja replaced him, seeing his first action since a May 1 game against Colorado.
The Red Wings have several players on the roster who played on the 2002 Cup-winning team: Chelios, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Draper, McCarty, Dominik Hasek, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby.
Several players will get their first Stanley Cup opportunity, including 39-year-old Drake. The Trail, B.C., native rejoined the franchise this season, 15 years after making his debut with the Red Wings.
"I'm excited for him," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "To me, he's an exceptional human being and for us to be fortunate enough to have him come to our team this year and for him to play the way he's played in the playoffs, it's fantastic."
For his part, Babcock returns to the Stanley Cup final, after coaching Anaheim in a seven-game loss in 2003.