The Red Wings ousted the Calgary Flames from the NHL post-season with a 2-1 win in double overtime Sunday and took the best-of-seven series four games to two. Detroit will meet either the sixth-seeded Dallas Stars, who face the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 on Monday, or No. 5 San Jose in the second round.
Detroit is the top-seeded playoff team in the Western Conference while Calgary was No. 8. But the Wings have been upset the last three playoffs by lower-seeded teams, so captain Nicklas Lidstrom was relieved to end the series in six instead of going back to Detroit for a Game 7.
"We wanted to win it here tonight," Lidstrom said. "That's what we were telling ourselves in between periods and overtimes."
Detroit fourth-line centre Johan Franzen ended it at 4:23 of the second extra period, taking a cross-ice pass off the boards from Lidstrom, cruising into the high slot and wiring the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff.
"It was so quiet so 'Is it really in?"' Franzen said of his winner that silenced the sellout crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome. "It was just an awesome feeling and it's good to have it over with."
Lidstrom, who led the Wings in points in the series with two goals and five assists, said he didn't even see the winner he had a hand in.
"I passed it off the boards to him when I went for a line change and I saw the bench go crazy when I was going to sit down, so I have to watch it later tonight to see how that puck went in," Lidstrom.
Detroit outshot Calgary 55-21 Sunday and dominated the faceoff circle.
Robert Lang also scored for the Red Wings, while Flames captain Jarome Iginla replied for Detroit. Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek stopped 20 of 21 shots for the victory.
Kiprusoff carried the Flames on his back in the series for as long as he could and was the main reason why Calgary was able to pull out one-goal victories at home in Games 3 and 4. He faced 255 shots in six games for an average of 42 per game.
"We lived and died by him and we didn't do enough to help him," Flames defenceman Rhett Warrener said. "The amount of shots he faced, that was like three series for a goalie."
The narrow loss capped a difficult day for the Flames as the organization was fined US$100,000 and head coach Jim Playfair an additional $25,000 for their players' actions in a penalty-filled finish to Saturday's game in Detroit.
Backup goaltender Jamie McLennan was also suspended for five games for slashing Franzen on Saturday.
The Red Wings outscored the Flames 12-3 in their own building, but wanted a road win heading into the second round so they wouldn't have any doubts they could do it.
It was Detroit's first victory at Saddledome since April 3, 2006.
"Finally we won on the road and it won the series for us," Lidstrom said.
The Wings were the more loose team in overtime as they knew there was still a tomorrow if they lost.
Calgary was tight and cautious. The Flames had two power-play opportunities in the first overtime, but couldn't convert either into a winner.
Lang was dinged for hooking at 11:43 of the extra period. Flames forward David Moss had a chance to end it on the ensuing power play, but his shot deflected high off the helmet of a sprawling Hasek.
Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi hauled down Stephane Yelle for a holding penalty 32 seconds into overtime, but the Red Wings limited the Flames to two shots during that man advantage.
The Flames killed off Craig Conroy's double minor for high-sticking Tomas Holstrom at 6:44 of the extra period. Kiprusoff was outstanding, shutting down Henrik Zetterberg on two excellent chances.
Iginla scored his second of the series to give the Flames a 1-0 lead at 3:09 of the second period, but Lang evened up with his first of the post-season at 16:54.
Lidstrom was dominant for Detroit at both ends of the ice, particularly in the home end of the series. He was largely responsible for holding Iginla to two goals.
Forwards Daniel Cleary, Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were standouts, but Detroit also got supplementary offence from Franzen and Valterri Filpulla and even defenceman Chris Chelios scored his first goal of the season in Game 5.
Hasek was his unorthodox, but effective, self. He made the saves when his team required him to do so.
Notes - Detroit was scoreless on five power-play chances while Calgary went 0-for-4. . . . Flames defenceman Mark Giordano caught a puck in the face off a Mathieu Schneider shot in the first period, but returned to the game. . . . Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr (knee) skated Sunday morning, but was a scratch for the fourth straight game. . . . Defenceman Brent Lebda was not in Detroit's lineup. His leg twisted awkwardly into the boards while checking Daymond Langkow Saturday. Kyle Quincey was Lebda's replacement. . . . After losing two games at the Saddledome last week, the Wings switched up their stall assignments in the visitors' dressing room Sunday.