DETROIT 4, DALLAS 1Dancing on the Stars; Wings samba to record winning streak
January 3, 2008
BY HELENE ST. JAMES
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
Dallas Drake's smile stretched the width of the Red Wings' bench. He had just scored his first goal of the season, and in doing so secured for the Red Wings their best first half in franchise history.
The Wings upended Dallas, 4-1, Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena before a sell-out crowd of 20,066 to record their 30th victory at the 41-game mark of the season. The feat set an NHL record for an 82 game schedule, and surpassed the club record of 29 wins after 41 games in 1995-96 and in the lockout-shortened season of 1995.
Drake's goal was his first since last Valentine's Day.
"I just told a couple of guys," he said, "the last time I scored I think there was an eclipse. It feels really good."
That feeling was spread around the Wings' locker room as they demolished the Western Conference opponent closest in the standings to set a club record.
"It's pretty impressive," coach Mike Babcock said. "It means you've got real good players and you've got great leadership. As a group, we should be proud."
Chris Osgood lifted his lifetime record against Dallas to 26-10-3. Meanwhile, Dallas goalie Marty Turco continued a career's worth of futility against Detroit by falling to 1-9-5.
In addition to Drake's first goal, Aaron Downey recorded his first point of the season when he set up Johan Franzen.
"It's nice for one night to talk about guys like Downs and Dallas Drake, the guys in the trenches that are kind of like linemen in football for us," Osgood said. "Downs had a couple of big hits before he made a great pass on Franzen's goal, and Dallie Drake scored a big goal for us. It was still 2-0 at the time, the game was up for grabs, and he made a nice play to shoot that quick through the legs of Turco."
Dan Cleary put the Wings ahead at 12:01 of the first period. After seeing his first shot blocked by Stephane Robidas, Cleary got the puck back and angled it past Turco into the far corner.
The Wings kept that lead five minutes into the second period because referees ruled there had been incidental contact when Westland native Chris Conner fell into Osgood as Conner shoved the puck into the net with his right hand.
Minutes later, Detroit doubled up on Dallas. Sprung by Downey, Franzen raced up the right flank and deked to his backhand to beat Turco. Osgood, meanwhile, continued a strong stretch, looking especially nimble when he had to account for a weird bounce with under three minutes to go in the period. Osgood had gone behind his net to anticipate the puck when it hit the boards and Mike Ribeiro collected it and fired a shot. Osgood dove onto his stomach, slid forward, and caught the puck.
"I was eyeballing (Zamboni driver) Al Sobotka after," Osgood said. "You can't rely on him to put the boards together -- it's like a bad puzzle all the time. ... I was just watching the puck and I saw it happen."
Drake put the game out of reach for the Stars with a goal at 4:32 of the third period. Shortly afterward, he briefly fought Steve Ott after Ott plowed into Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom, in turn, took a shot on net that Pavel Datsyuk converted out of mid-air at 13:13. At 13:59 Loui Eriksson spoiled Osgood' shutout with a wrap-around goal.
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