DETROIT — For seemingly the entire game, Dallas goalie Marty Turco was
seeing red jerseys.
Tomas Holmstrom. Johan Franzen. Holmstrom again. Crowding the crease on the power play, the Red Wings prevented Turco from seeing the puck until
it was too late.
And Turco still hasn’t seen his team win in Detroit, as the Red Wings won Thursday's Western Conference finals opener, 4-1, of their best-of-seven series.
Franzen and Holmstrom each collected a goal, and defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall each had two assists in the win. Brendan Morrow scored the lone Stars’ goal.
Turco dropped to 0-8-2 in his pro career at Joe Louis Arena, but entered the game with the second-best best GAA (1.73) in the playoffs.
“Turco’s on fire, playing real well in the playoffs,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We can’t let him have space. And so we gotta be right there and back them in. And if we do that, we have a chance to be successful in the series.”
The blue-paint blinding aided to Dallas’ inability to stay out of the penalty box in the first half of the game.
The Red Wings entered Game 1 clicking at over 20-percent with the man-advantage, but the Stars ranked fourth in penalty kill (86-percent). And Detroit only scored one power-play goal in 15 attempts during the regular-season series between the two teams.
But it took just four power plays to elicit three Detroit goals.
With Mattias Norstrom already whistled for hooking, Mark Fistric and Holmstrom mixed it up in front of Turco. Only Fistric was nailed with a penalty, putting the Red Wings in a 5-on-3 situation just over four minutes into the contest.
Holmstrom took his spot atop the crease. Lidstrom’s point shot rung off the goalpost, but Brian Rafalski potted the long rebound from the slot, putting the Red Wings up 1-0.
It was Franzen’s turn on Detroit’s second tally — again with the man-advantage — late in the first period. Kromwall point shot, Franzen deflection through Turco’s legs.
Franzen has scored in five straight contests and his 12 goals lead the NHL playoffs.
Turco was again looking behind him to the find the puck on the third Wings’ power play goal. Holmstrom, almost resting atop Turco’s butterfly, deflected Lidstrom’s snapshot past the Dallas netminder at 6:40 of the second period, 3-0.
“Every game it's tough to see all the shots,” Turco said. “We've done a great job blocking them and dictating the play of where we want it to come from and that just wasn't the case tonight. … We'll just find ways to stay out of the box, do a little better PKing and we like our chances 5-on-5.”
Dallas coach Dave Tippett disputed the third Red Wings’ goal, saying that Holmstrom position in the blue paint prevented Turco from doing his job.
“Marty is going to have to be more aggressive,” Tippett said. “We’re going to have to be more aggressive to deal with those people in front, if they’re not going to call it how, to me, it’s supposed to be called.”
Turco saw the puck that put Detroit up 4-0 nine minutes later. Valtteri Filppula split the Dallas defense pairing and sent a rolling puck sailing over Turco’s stick.
The game was physical early, but was broken up by the constant special teams action. One hit — Kromwall blindsided Antii Miettinen carrying the puck up ice with his head down — lived up to the hype.
Yankees Jason Giambi (left) and Johnny Damon, a long with his wife, Michelle, were in the Joe Louis Arena crowd at Game 1 on Thursday.
Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood stopped 20 of 21 shots faced, winning his seventh straight start after replacing Dominik Hasek in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal against Nashville.
GAME NOTES: Darren McCarty (coach’s decision) was scratched, so Kirk Maltby saw his first postseason action. Maltby had missed time with a hamstring injury. “Tough decision,” Babcock said. “Mac’s played real good, (so I) didn’t know for sure,” Babcock said. “(We) wanted more speed. … Franzen’s five-game goal scoring streak ties a team record held by Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. … Kronwall leads all NHL defensemen in scoring with 10 points, passing Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas (eight points). … With the win, the Red Wings have now won seven straight games, tying Pittsburgh’s 7-0 run to open these playoffs. … It’s been 10 years since Dallas and Detroit teams last met in the postseason (1998 Western Conference finals). Detroit won Game 1 in Dallas, 2-0, and eventually went on to win the series, 4-2. “Very important for us to get skating early, draw some penalties, get some momentum. ... In Detroit for a three-game weekend series against the Tigers that starts Friday at Comerica Park, New York Yankees Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Shelley Duncan sat in the front row of Thursday's Game 1 at JLA.