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 1997 Playoff Review

  Osgood's Shutout Lifts Detroit to Finals
By Josh Barr
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, June 6, 1998; Page D1

Osgood makes a save on Hogue's shot in the second period.
(John C. Hillery/Reuters)

DETROIT, June 5 — The Washington Capitals can make their travel plans for the Stanley Cup finals. Their opponent will be the Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals, four games to two, behind goaltender Chris Osgood's Game 6 shutout.

Osgood rebounded from an embarrassing defeat with his second shutout of the postseason to lead Detroit to an 2-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings will host the Capitals in Game 1 of the finals Tuesday.

It was a splendid night all around for the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. Former Washington defenseman Larry Murphy scored a short-handed goal in the first period, and struggling Sergei Fedorov added a goal in the second. It was the first goal of the series for Fedorov, considered one of the top offensive players in the game.

The loss ended Dallas's best season since the franchise moved from Minneapolis prior to the 1993-94 season. For the first time in franchise history, the Stars won the President's Trophy for having the league's best record, but they failed in their bid for their first finals appearance since 1991, when they were known as the Minnesota North Stars.

Osgood, meanwhile, exorcised any lingering fears about his state of mind following Detroit's Game 5 loss Wednesday night. In that game, Osgood allowed the tying goal with 1 minute 25 seconds left in regulation, then botched Jamie Langenbrunner's shot from the redline 46 seconds into overtime.

It was the third time in the playoffs that Osgood allowed a goal from outside the blue line. The goal earned the headline "Os-goat" from a Toronto newspaper and led many fans to wonder whether the 25-year-old was good enough to get their team back to the finals for the third time in four seasons.

However, tonight, Osgood was as good as ever. The fans serenaded him with a prolonged chant of "Oz-zie" when the home team took the ice prior to the game, and the young goalie gave them plenty of reasons to repeat that serenade throughout the game.

The Stars took several long distance shots, hoping for a repeat of the Game 5 winner, to no avail. Dallas also got some good chances from close in, the best coming early in the second period when Guy Carbonneau made a nice pass to teammate Mike Keane all alone at the left edge of the crease. Keane had plenty of time and room to shoot, but he didn't get the puck in the air, and Osgood, sprawled face-down along the ice, was able to get his right pad in the way.

In the third period, with Dallas desperately trying to stave off elimination, Osgood made a spectacular glove save on Derian Hatcher's point-blank try on a rebound with four minutes left. With two minutes left, Osgood caught Langenbrunner's charging backhander from 10 feet.

All of which brought the crowd to its feet and more loud "Oz-zie" chants. When the game ended, Osgood raised his hands high in the air and was mobbed by his teammates. As the teams exchanged handshakes, another "Oz-zie" chant filled the arena.

Osgood also had help from his teammates, who dominated the first period and took a 1-0 lead into intermission, though it could have been more.

Both teams had significant time with a man advantage, each going 0 for 3 on the power play. But the Stars' futility with the extra man-1 for 25 in the series' first five games-worsened tonight as Murphy scored a short-handed goal 6:20 into the game to give Detroit the lead.

Murphy got an excellent jump off the bench to create a 2-on-1 with teammate Darren McCarty. McCarty slipped a cross-ice pass to Murphy, who made a slight move to his backhand and nudged the puck past goalie Ed Belfour's stick.

Later in the period, during another Dallas power play, McCarty stole a pass from Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov and went the length of the ice on a breakaway. But Belfour calmly made a pad save on McCarty's shot to keep the lead at 1-0.

Fedorov scored in the second minute of the second period. His wrist shot from the slot went between Belfour's glove and torso and trickled into the net to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. That was more than enough, with Osgood denying every chance Dallas had.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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