By Michael Farber, SI.com
DETROIT -- The Dallas Stars are frustrated -- no ifs, ands and one butt end.
As Game 2 of the Western Conference final wound down -- Detroit won 2-1 to take a two-game lead into Dallas Monday -- the Stars took 24 minutes in penalties in the final 18 seconds, which isn't a record but is a fair indication of an elevated level of bile. Ten minutes were dished out to center Mike Ribeiro, who, after the final siren, reached over from the back of the net and delivered a two-handed slash to Chris Osgood just below the goalie's clavicle, striking Osgood in the ribs. If the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera had been delivering those kinds of swings this spring a few blocks away at Comerica Park, no one in Detroit would be worried about his $141 million contract extension.
Anyway, clearly something set Ribeiro off, beyond a moment of temporary insanity. Stars coach Dave Tippett said after viewing the videotape, it was obvious Osgood had butt-ended the center in the face seconds before time expired.
Osgood didn't bother denying it, even as he didn't exactly confirm it. If it did occur, Osgood said -- you gotta love the subjunctive here -- it was an accident. He said Ribeiro "probably skated through my stick" as he was just trying to provide a modest measure of protection for star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom in case the Stars wanted to give him a little going-away gift before the series moves to Texas.
Ribeiro was nailed for a match penalty that could have resulted in a one-game suspension if Colin Campbell, the NHL's vice-president for violence who was in attendance, didn't like what he saw after he reviewed the incident. Fortunately for Dallas, Rebeiro was handed an undisclosed fine. With the loss of Jere Lehtinen, who left the game with what Tippett said was a leg injury, the Stars could have been left without two of their three first-line forwards for Monday night's Game 3.
Perhaps the last man standing on the Stars' No. 1 line, captain Brenden Morrow, conceded that the end-of-game contretemps was emblematic of the frustration that now plagues Dallas, which again was outhit by Detroit (39-26) and dominated again on faceoffs (39-16).
"They're doing a good job," Morrow, a left wing, said of the Red Wings. "During the game we had three or four point-blank (scoring opportunities), a four-on-one" -- Steve Ott missed the net from 10 feet six minutes into the game -- "and those things come back to haunt you. What happened at the end was just frustration."
"That's not what we wanted," Stars defenseman Stéphane Robidas said. "We want to be a team that plays with a lot of discipline. Our identity in the playoffs has been to play with discipline and beat the other team if it doesn't play with discipline, like we did with Anaheim. Sometimes when you're chasing the game, you get frustrated. We have to forget about that stuff and just play."
Meanwhile, like a breadbox, utensils and those cute little refrigerator magnets, Red Wings' crease crasher Tomas Holmstrom is in Turco's kitchen.
There is no point in the Stars goaltender denying it, given that he keeps landing punches to the back of the hard head of Detroit's human eclipse. There were three by one unofficial count -- this is one number that doesn't make it onto the NHL stat sheet -- although none were penalized. Turco was, however, caught for slashing Holmstrom in the second period, perhaps the residue of Tippett's post-Game 1 exhortation that Turco create some of his own space if the Stars defensemen couldn't.
But Holmstrom proved to be an effective nuisance. On the Red Wings' winning power-play goal in the first period, Turco appeared distracted as Holmstrom jostled with defenseman Mattias Norstrom to his right, creating a shooting lane to his left that was only slightly smaller than the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Henrik Zetterberg fired a shot from just beyond the right circle that glanced off Mike Modano's stick and wound up in the net.
Turco is now 0-9-2 all-time at Joe Louis Arena with a sub-.900 save percentage. He should benefit from home cooking in Dallas, even if Holmstrom is there folding napkins and setting the table.