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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Red Wings Keep Cool Over Blues

ST. LOUIS -- It was the game that could have ended their season and made them victims of the biggest upset in National Hockey League history, but the Detroit Red Wings refused to panic.


They decided to approach it as just another date on the schedule, removing from their minds the pressure that had interrupted the flow of their trademark, high-tempo game. That attitude Tuesday was more effective than any of Coach Scotty Bowman's clever line changes, freeing them to dictate the pace in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at the Kiel Center that tied their quarterfinal playoff series at 3-3.


"We were in a situation where we just decided, 'Let's behave and act the way we'd normally act.' There was no sense in getting uptight," said Detroit center Steve Yzerman, who played an outstanding game defensively and assisted on Nicklas Lidstrom's game-clinching goal. "We said, 'Just treat it like you normally do.' We had nothing to lose."


All they had to lose was the series and everything they accomplished in winning a record 62 games this season with a league-high 131 points.


The Blues finished 51 points behind the Red Wings, but that was forgotten when they bumped the Wings and jangled their nerves in winning games 3, 4 and 5. No team has ever eliminated an opponent that had so large a regular-season point advantage.


The Red Wings' main objective was to play with the lead instead of playing catch-up; they accomplished that in the first period. Igor Larionov deflected a shot by Vyacheslav Kozlov past Blues goalie Jon Casey at 10:17, and Kris Draper padded that to 2-0 at 14:05 when he intercepted a bad clearing pass by Casey and ripped it past the startled goalie.


That gave Detroit confidence and forced St. Louis to open up defensively. Detroit extended its lead to 3-0 on a power-play deflection by Dino Ciccarelli before the Blues mounted any pressure on goalie Chris Osgood. Steve Leach and Brett Hull scored within a 59-second span late in the third period, giving the 20,796 fans a brief thrill, but Lidstrom sent them streaming out the doors when he scored on a slap shot from the slot.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)