RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The Detroit Red Wings put the age issue to rest in winning a six-period marathon in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals. They buried it in Game Four.
Dominik Hasek recorded his sixth playoff shutout and 30- and 40-something veterans Brett Hull, Igor Larionov and Brendan Shanahan provided the offense as the Red Wings moved within a win of their third Stanley Cup in six years with a 3-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Closing in on the first championship of his stellar career, Hasek did not have much to do as he faced only 17 shots. But he made a huge play in the first period, got a lucky bounce in the second and extended his shutout streak to 127 minutes, 13 seconds.
"It was, by far, our best defensive game of the year," said Hasek, who has 12 career postseason shutouts. "They had a couple of chances in the second, but after the two power plays, we completely shut them down."
The 37-year-old Hull, whose deflection with 74 seconds left forced overtime in the pivotal third game, scored the only goal Hasek needed early in the second period, becoming the fourth player in NHL history with 100 career playoff tallies.
The 41-year-old Larionov followed up his triple-overtime heroics with the insurance tally early in the third period. And Shanahan, a youngster at 33, added the clincher with 5:17 to play.
Despite a roster loaded with players on the wrong side of 30, the Red Wings appeared the fresher team coming off the third-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history.
"Age in today's game has zero to do with anything," Hull said. "You'd almost rather have a team with at least a solid mixture of veteran players because it's the way teams play now. You don't have to be swift afoot or super-skilled anymore. All you have to do is be very knowledgeable. I think we proved that."
The Red Wings get an extra day off before hosting Game Five on Thursday.
"We have been in this position before with three wins and that fourth game, it's just a matter of staying away from all the hoopla," said Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who passed his mentor, Toe Blake, with a 35th career Stanley Cup Finals win.
"(The players) talked about it as soon as the game was over. That's what they were saying, we've got two days in between. Coming home, your good friends and your relatives, they wanted to be there if you win, but that doesn't help you play."
The upstart Hurricanes had not lost three in a row since early January and are facing elimination for the first time in this year's playoffs. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs -- who dropped the first three games of their series with the Red Wings -- are the only team in Stanley Cup Finals history to rally from a three games to one deficit and win the championship.
"It's 3-1, it's not over yet," said goaltender Arturs Irbe, who made 24 saves. "I know how difficult people feel it is, but it's for us to decide if it's over or not. I don't feel we're done. Games Five, Six and Seven are scheduled and we'll take them one at a time."
Game Four still was scoreless in the final minute of the opening period when Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios fell inside his own blue line. That would have allowed rookie Erik Cole to skate unimpeded toward the net, but Hasek charged out to the left faceoff dot and used the paddle of his stick to knock away the puck and keep his shutout streak intact.
"I saw Cole walk through Chelios and I knew it was going to be far away from him," Hasek said. "I went to poke-check him and I got it by a couple of inches. It was right on the edge. It was close to a goal."
Hull joined elite company 6:32 into the second period with his league-leading 10th playoff goal.
Defenseman Fredrik Olausson pushed the puck to Boyd Devereaux at the Carolina blue line, sending him in 2-on-1. Devereaux slid a pass across the slot to Hull, who leaned into a one-timer at the bottom of the left faceoff circle and whipped it off the left goalpost and into the net.
Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri -- teammates on the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty of the late 1980s -- are the only other players with 100 playoff goals.
"I guess it's more the people I have joined up there. It's quite a group and I am very proud to be a part of it," said Hull, who also moved within one of Gretzky's record with his 23rd career playoff game-winner. "I guess there was a time when there was talk that you could never win in the playoffs with Brett Hull. And all of a sudden, you win a Cup."
Luc Robitaille, one of Detroit's two other 600-goal scorers, took a retaliatory high-sticking penalty off a faceoff midway through the second period. And it nearly led to the tying goal.
Defenseman Bret Hedican, returned to the point on the Hurricanes' power play, blasted a shot from the top of the left circle off Hasek's chest. Jeff O'Neill got the rebound in the slot and quickly flicked it to the right side to Ron Francis, who curled a shot off the far goalpost.
"I thought the puck was in the net," Hasek said. "I heard it hit the post and then it came right back to me. That was big right there because that could've changed the entire game."
"You hit the post on the power play while it's still 1-0, and that's the difference right there," he said. "You can't count on posts, but it's a very little margin. Tonight nothing was there for us. Hopefully, we ran out of bad luck and we'll have good luck for the next game."
Carolina's power-play struggles continued after Detroit defenseman Steve Duchesne was penalized for holding the stick with 5:26 to go in the period.
And for the first time in the series, a team carried a lead into the third period.
The Red Wings built on it with 16:17 remaining. Tomas Holmstrom worked the puck up the left boards to rookie defenseman Jiri Fischer, who spotted Larionov at the right goalpost and one-timed a pinpoint pass that the Game Three hero stuffed into the net for his third goal in two games.
Shanahan capped the scoring with just his second goal in 11 games. Sergei Fedorov got a pass from Chelios, drifted into the Hurricanes' zone and cut to the top of the slot before moving the puck to Shanahan, who steered it past goaltender Arturs Irbe for his sixth playoff goal.
"The most important thing for me is do whatever you can do on the ice, whatever those other jobs may be in order to win," Shanahan said. "But certainly, I was happy to contribute offensively. I felt I had been playing well through the series but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard."
Detroit dominated the first scoreless opening period of the series, outshooting the Hurricanes, 10-6, and limiting them to one solid chance through 19 minutes.
Detroit managed just one shot with the man advantage, but Fedorov showed no effects of Saturday's marathon. He had plenty of jump early, whipping a wrist shot from the slot wide of the net, testing Irbe from close range after controlling a pass from Yzerman and firing a slapper from the top of the right circle.
Carolina's first good chance came with 5:41 to go in the first period. Defenseman Niclas Wallin wristed a shot from the right point through traffic and off the right post.
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice tried to address two problem areas by juggling his lines. He moved Sami Kapanen, who has one goal in 21 playoff games, off the top line and replaced him with Bates Battaglia, a member of the struggling "BBC Line."
"We have gone 6 1/2, 7 1/2 periods without a goal. Anything is possible at that point," Maurice explained. "Sami has obviously struggled to get his shots to the net and be a physical force down low. That's not a big part of his game. It's been difficult for him. And it showed."