DETROIT — Maybe the Dallas Stars were feeling some fatigue from what was basically a double-header on Sunday night. Whatever the reason, the Stars spent a lot of time playing catch-up.
With catch-up hockey comes catch-up penalties. And against the rested Detroit Red Wings, those mistakes don’t go by the wayside.
Three different Wings scored power-play goals, and Detroit beat the sluggish-looking Stars 4-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Joe Louis Arena. It’s the first playoff series opener the Stars have lost this postseason, and it’s one in which they didn’t have much jump from the start.
“We were a step behind out there and we lost the battles,” Mike Ribeiro said. “We didn’t compete hard enough. (Our penalties) were mostly reaching or stick penalties, and that’s something you can’t do.”
Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood stopped 20 of 21 for the victory.
The Red Wings, who haven’t lost since Game 4 against the Nashville Predators in the first round, were ready to pounce from the start. They scored on three of their five power plays, most of which were caused by those frustrating hooking and holding calls.
“That’s a result of being behind the game,” coach Dave Tippett said. “When you’re engaged in the game you’re doing things on the top level. We didn’t have enough people there tonight.”
The Stars had four power-play chances but came up empty on all of them. Brenden Morrow scored the lone goal for the Stars, his eighth this postseason. But the Stars were already down 4-0 when that goal came at the end of the second period.
Marty Turco gave up four on 31 shots, but Tippett said, “that had a lot to do with the team in front of him, not so much Marty.”
And it had to do with Wings getting in front of him, too. Tomas Holmstrom was in front of the net on two of those goals, creating a big shield on Brian Rafalski’s 5-on-3 goal early in the first and then tipping in Niklas Lidstrom’s offering in the second. Johan Franzen’s downward deflection on Niklas Kronwall’s shot was his 12th goal this postseason.
“The willingness to pay the price, to battle for position, just to stand there dead-center where they’re aiming is the biggest reason why they’re successful, and anybody is,” Turco said. “That’s playoff hockey. That’s something, as a team, we can overcome.”
The Stars and Red Wings are on the same schedule again. Now the talk for the Stars focuses on getting a split on the road. They want to forget about this one and get back to the hockey that got them here in the first place.
“If we would’ve gone five overtimes and played the best game of the year and lost, maybe you say we put everything out there. But we didn’t,” Brad Richards said. “If you don’t get to that third-round, Stanley Cup-Final type of level, throw the Xs and Os out. We’re not going to get anywhere.”