DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings experienced something Saturday that they hadn’t previously in this spring’s NHL playoffs: what it feels like to lose at home.
They were 7-0 at Joe Louis Arena before the Dallas Stars won 2-1 Saturday to shave the Wings’ Western Conference final advantage to 3-2. Game 6 is in Dallas on Monday night.
“It was more or less the same as Game 4,” said losing goalie Chris Osgood, suggesting that his team’s 3-1 loss Wednesday in Dallas and the latest setback were mirror images. “They took it to us pretty good.”
Although Detroit outshot Dallas 39-21, scoring chances were more even than the numbers on the shots counter suggest. But Stars goalie Marty Turco, getting his first career win in his 12th NHL start in Detroit, was an easy pick as first star.
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting to the net and getting some rebound goals and getting in front of him a little bit more,” said Osgood. “They’re making it hard on us getting to the net and they’re slowing us down through the neutral zone.
“We’ve just got to get to the net in Dallas and we’ve always played well there so we look forward to the game.”
The Red Wings have to be frustrated about letting Dallas win two in a row after threatening a sweep, but they won’t admit it.
“They beat San Jose and Anaheim so, if you told us we’d be up 3-2 going back to Dallas before we started playing, we’d probably take it,” said Osgood. “We knew it was going to be tough.”
Veteran defenceman Chris Chelios decided to go to the bench as Dallas started the rush that resulted in the winning goal by Joel Lundqvist at 6:04 of the second period, and it was a costly line change.
“We gave up too many odd-man rushes for one reason or another,” said Osgood. “That was the most that I’ve seen in a long time.
“For one reason or another, they’re getting some speed through the neutral zone and getting some guys home-free a couple times. Then again, both times were line changes. That can’t happen at this time of the season. We’ve got to be mentally sharp. We definitely can’t allow that to happen anymore. Those are the things that bite you.
“At times I think we’ve played pretty good, but we haven’t played like we were previously so we have to reload, relax (Sunday) mentally and physically, and get ready to play a great game in Dallas.”
The Stars’ strong checking held Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg off the scoresheet.
“I’ve said all along that you can’t rely on two guys to win every game,” said Osgood. “here’s many other guys to find a way to score, whether it hits them or bang in a couple of rebounds or something, take some pressure off them because they’ve got that line pounding them.
“It’s tough. It’s like the old Esa Tikkanen and those guys, they’ve always got two guys on them and they’re finishing, hitting them hard. They’re still getting chances. But we can’t rely on two guys and expect to win the series.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock saw too many of his players’ shots miss the target.
“One of the keys for us when we had our quality chances was that we missed the net,” said Babcock. “We missed the net 19 times.
“We had ample opportunity but weren’t able to get it done. When they were in lockdown mode, we didn’t get enough people and pucks to the net for second chances.”