It's rare to have a game between the ninth-place and 11th-place teams in a conference in January have the feel of April. This one had that feel, complete with a call at the end of the game that will be talked about for a while.
Ott's shot was knocked down by Jimmy Howard's glove, but was rolling as it neared the goal line. Howard covered up the puck, while swiping his glove forward out of the goal. Rob Martell, who was behind the net and to the right of Howard, skated in quickly (almost banging his head against the pipes) and waved the goal off.
But Mike Leggo, the other referee who was skating in with Ott, felt that the puck did go into the net. The video replay room in Toronto ruled that the replays were inconclusive. But no one in Dallas made it clear that the original call on the ice was a goal. So when Martell announced it was a goal, it appeared that the call had been overturned.
The controversial ending marred a game that featured playoff-level intensity from both teams, including a physical third period that saw Leggo and Martell put away the whistles and let the two teams simply go at it. Ott seemed obsessed with drawing someone into a fight, taunting both Brad Stuart and Todd Bertuzzi. Both teams saw heavy hitting and each managed to score one power-play goal. Howard ended up with 28 saves, which Alex Auld had 26 saves for the Stars.
Bertuzzi opened the scoring, taking a great setup by Henrik Zetterberg, skating in, and with Jeff Woywitka putting his stick in (and drawing a negated penalty), put the puck on his backhand, and put in past Auld for his 13th goal of the season. Nicklas Lidstrom picked up the second assist with the great starting pass.
Then, with Mike Modano sitting on a slashing penalty, Brian Rafalski took advantage of a Zetterberg shot that bounced off Bertuzzi (handcuffing Auld) and put the puck in a nearly open net for his third goal of the year. Again, Lidstrom picked up the second assist.
But the Stars came back in the second period. Brad Richards took advantage of a too many men penalty for the Red Wings by skating down the right-side boards along and taking a great shot that Howard couldn't handle for his 14th goal of the season.
In the third, the Stars took advantage of a questionable non-call. Krystofer Barch was in the crease, his rear end in contact with him, which stopped Howard from moving to his right, where Loui Eriksson was set up by Tom Wandell and put it in for his team-leading 19th goal. Howard lept up and immediately started arguing that he was interfered with, but the words were for naught.
In the shootout, it was a series of misses and saves: James Neal, Richards, Eriksson, Modano, and Stephane Robidas all had shots blocked by Howard; the Wings had Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Valtteri Filppula, and Dan Cleary had their shots handled by Auld, while Datsuyk missed high on a backhand and Patrick Eaves missed the chance to go to a seventh round when he also went high.
The Red Wings come home for an early Sunday matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Player of the game: Jimmy Howard. As the Red Wings defense effectively shut down in the third period, Howard stood on his head to make some great saves to keep the Wings in this one.