Goal within sight
Hasek's sixth shutout has Wings one win from hoisting CupPosted: Monday June 10, 2002 10:56 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 11, 2002 3:38 AM
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings were convinced a year ago that all they needed to reclaim the Stanley Cup was the goalie who could never seem to win it.
So, to add the last missing piece to the NHL's oldest but most talented team, they landed Dominik Hasek -- and, now, at age 37, Hasek is one victory away from winning the cup he has chased for a career.
Hasek put on a spectacular show for his record sixth shutout of the playoffs, and the Red Wings again got goals from Brett Hull and Igor Larionov to beat Carolina 3-0 Monday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
"Really, you can't lose your edge now," Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said. "We've been in this situation before, and it really is a tough game."
With Hasek and the seemingly ageless Hull and Larionov playing like kids again, the Red Wings opened a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They can win their third Stanley Cup in six years in Game 5 Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena, where they last clinched the cup in 1997. They won in 1998 by finishing a four-game sweep in Washington.
For the second straight game, the Red Wings' biggest goals came from the 37-year-old Hull and the 41-year-old Larionov, who combined for all three scores in Detroit's momentum-shifting, three-overtime 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night.
Hull got the game's first goal with a shot off the post in the second period, his 23rd game-winning goal in the playoffs and his fourth game-winning goal in the finals in four years.
"It's not easy for a team to focus on shutting down one line," said Shanahan, who scored the Red Wings' final goal. "Not when you can come back at them with a 600-goal scorer on the next line and a 600-goal scorer on the line after that."
Larionov -- the oldest player in the NHL -- made it 2-0 by scoring early in the third period. It was his third goal in two games, including the game-winning goal late in the third overtime of Game 3 that potentially swung the series to Detroit.
"The break we got was scoring the first goal," said Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who, fittingly, is the league's oldest coach at 68. "The first goal in a game like this is big. ... But we've been in this position before [one victory from winning the Cup], and we've got to stay away from all the hoopla.
"I feel we have enough experienced guys who have been in this position and can help the ones who haven't been in this position."
The way Hasek was playing, though, one goal would have been enough. Arguably the best goalie in NHL history without a Stanley Cup ring, Hasek did it all in his best game of the finals, often wandering far from the net to stop shots and begin up-ice rushes while making 17 saves in his first shutout of the series.
His six playoff shutouts this spring are two more than any previous goalie, and he extended his scoreless streak in the series to 127 minutes, 13 seconds, one that began in the third period of Game 3. He has 12 career playoff shutouts.
"This game was by far our best defensive game," Hasek said. "The whole team deserved the shutout because it was a great defensive effort."
Hasek's most brilliant play was a save-or-else stop on Erik Cole to keep the game scoreless late in the first period.
Cole, scoreless in 10 games, got loose by skating around defenseman Chris Chelios, only to be surprised when Hasek became his own defenseman by coming out to the top of the right circle to poke the puck away.
"He's so good at anticipating what's going to happen in those situations," Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "He saw the guy was skating with his head down, so he came out and made a great play."
Carolina's Arturs Irbe played well, stopping 24 shots, but he almost needed to be perfect to match Hasek.
"We just had a hard time getting things done," Carolina head coach Paul Maurice said. "They played their best game of the series and we were pushing at times when we shouldn't have been and that opened up our game. And that's a dangerous thing to do against a team like Detroit."p>
Still, despite their worst loss of the series, the Hurricanes refused to concede it is over, even if no team in the last 60 seasons has rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.
"We still have an opportunity here," captain Ron Francis said. "That's what we have to focus on -- Game 5. We can't look beyond that."
With both teams showing the fatigue of Saturday night in a scoreless first period, Hull finally opened the scoring early in the second period. Working a 3-on-2 rush started by Hasek's breakout pass, Hull skated down the left wing and took Boyd Devereaux's cross-ice pass to one-time a shot off the left goal post and into the net before Irbe could react at 6:32.
Hull's league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs came on the Red Wings' first shot of the period and made him the fourth player in the NHL history with 100 career playoff goals. Hull now trails Wayne Gretzky (122), Mark Messier (109) and Jari Kurri (106) in career playoff goals.
After scoring, Hull looked up and gave a little wink, as if to say, "Had it all the way."
"There once was talk you couldn't win a Stanley Cup with Brett Hull," said Hull, who, just as Hasek, joined the Red Wings before this season. "But then you win a Cup [with Dallas] and all of a sudden get 100 goals, and maybe people look differently at that."
Carolina has only 13 goals in eight games and six in the first four games of the series. But the Hurricanes had a great opportunity to tie the game on a power play midway through the period.
Bret Hedican's rebound deflected to Jeff O'Neill, who immediately directed it across the crease to Francis, leaving the right side of the net open.
But Francis' one-timer deflected off the left post and bounced harmlessly away -- even as the goal horn momentarily sounded -- and a surprised and very much relieved Hasek covered it up.
"It was right on the edge. He was very close to scoring a goal," Hasek said. "It was exactly when the game was on the edge, and he had a wide-open net. I just jumped; I thought the puck was in the net. All of a sudden, I heard puck hit the post and it came right back to me."
Francis looked up at the scoreboard and watched the replay, almost not believing that he missed.
The loss was the Hurricanes' fourth in their last five home playoff games, while Detroit improved to 8-2 on road. The Red Wings have won five of their last six overall, losing only Game 1 to Carolina 3-2 in overtime.
Notes: Detroit has allowed only one power-play goal in 35 chances over its last eight games. ... Detroit is 21-4-0-1 against the Eastern Conference this season. ... Bowman won his record 35th career playoff finals game, one more than former Montreal coach Toe Blake. ... Detroit is 11-2 when scoring the first goal and 9-0 when leading after two periods. ... The only team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in finals was Toronto in 1942, which was down 3-0 and rallied to beat Detroit.