Determined to play with desperation, the Dallas Stars did just that as they avoided being swept from the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night.
Mike Modano's power-play goal 5:35 into the third period proved to be the decisive goal in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Detroit Red wings in Game 4 of the Western Conference final at the American Airlines Center,
With Red Wings defenceman Brian Rafalski serving a tripping minor and Daniel Cleary trying to kill the penalty without his stick, Modano broke a 1-1 deadlock on a rocket of a shot from the high slot.
It was Modano's fifth goal of the playoffs, and finished off a set play involving Brad Richards and Sergei Zubov.
"We were able to get it set up finally," Modano said. "Zubov down low on that side is someone that can really thread the needle, find the open guy."
Brenden Morrow's ninth goal, on a shot from the slot, completed the scoring with 5:26 remaining.
"We were looking for a better team effort, and that is what we got," Stars head coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought all our best players stood up tonight."
Loui Eriksson tallied the other goal, Zubov had two assists and Marty Turco made 33 saves for the fifth-seeded Stars, who trail the best-of-seven series 3-1.
"It is amazing, the things you can do, you know, when you bond together," Turco said. "When you're down 0-3 in the conference Final, there is no greater time to bond and play together."
But they hope Wednesday's outcome will plant seeds of doubt in Detroit.
"Doubt starts to creep in a little bit," Morrow said. "We have got a couple of days here to let that sink in."
Game 5 goes Saturday (CBC, 1:30 p.m. ET), with the Red Wings still poised to return to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since winning it all in 2002.
"The two days off will really help us," Tippett said. "We have got some momentum, so we have got to use that to our advantage now.
"You go in there and steal a game out of there. Now you got it to 3-2 and the ball is rolling the right way."
Winning streak snapped
Henrik Zetterberg scored the lone goal for the top-ranked Red Wings, who had a nine-game winning streak snapped.
Detroit hadn't lost since dropping a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the conference quarter-finals on April 16.
Chris Osgood kicked out 19 of 22 shots, but he suffered his first setback of the playoffs (9-1).
Johan Franzen, who leads the Red Wings with 12 goals in these playoffs, was scratched because of concussion-like symptoms.
Unable to play for the Stars were forwards Stu Barnes (concussion) and Jere Lehtinen (leg) and defenceman Philippe Boucher (hip).
Dallas knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in the first round and the second-ranked San Jose Sharks in the second round, both in six gruelling games, and looked tired at times in the first three games — all losses — versus Detroit.
But the Stars skated with renewed vigour in Game 4, and suddenly sound rejuvenated by the series-saving win.
"We needed a thread of life," Tippett said. "Now we got a thread of life."
"Our situation really doesn't change much going into Detroit," Turco said. "We're gonna need to continue to have that feeling.
"To say it is easy to quit, you know, I'm sure it is. But I don't think anybody does anything easy in our locker room."
Datsyuk goal disallowed
Dallas failed to capitalize three power plays in the first period, as did Detroit in the second period, and Turco kept it scoreless as he got a shoulder on a shot from Valtteri Filppula and Cleary poked the rebound off the right post.
"He came up with a heck of a game for us tonight," Tippett said of Turco.
Pavel Datsyuk put a puck behind Turco seven minutes into the second period on a rising shot that rang off the right post and into the net.
But the power-play goal was waved off by referee Kelly Sutherland, who ruled that Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom interfered with Turco.
"I couldn't move freely to make that save on the shot," Turco said. "I really don't think it's a bad call.
"I don't think it is black and white, like it used to be. It is the referee's discretion."
Television replays clearly indicated that Holmstrom was stationed outside the blue paint as he screened Turco.
"It was a goal," Zetterberg said. "Homer was outside the crease, nothing new to that.
"Everything goes really fast out there. Unfortunately, it was a missed call."
"It is a reputation call, totally," Babcock said. "It is disappointing.
"Kelly is a good referee. He just blew the call."
Eriksson strikes first
Eriksson broke the scoreless stalemate with 23 seconds left in the period, knocking in a Stephane Robidas rebound from the lip of the crease for his fourth — and Dallas' first lead in the series.
"It hit my body and then hit the stick," Ericksson said. "I was just standing there.
"I didn't hit it with my hand. I knew it was good.
"I was just trying to stay in front. It hit me and went in."
It was enough to put the Stars ahead for the first time in 219 minutes, 37.3 seconds.
The lead proved shortlived, though, as Zetterberg tied it 1-1 just 49 seconds into the third period, catching Turco leaning to his right and beating him with a shot to the far side for his 10th.
"We had every opportunity in the world to score and we didn't," Babcock said. "The goalie was good and they were desperate.
"You know, I don't think we were surprised by their effort in any way. It is what we expected.
"We weren't able to finish it. We had some opportunities on the power play and were unable to get it done."
Detroit has never lost a post-season series to Dallas, winning the three previous meetings, including the 1998 conference final in six games.