The Detroit Red Wings have finally lost a home game in regulation, thanks to a nearly perfect road victory by the Dallas Stars. They outshot the Red Wings, were perfect on the penalty kill and took advantage of their power play opportunities to stun Detroit and get right back on the right track after days of questions surrounding the team's approach and consistency. Alex Auld was tremendous in net, and the Stars defensemen played disciplined hockey in their own zone as they worked to slow down a powerful Red Wings offense.
Obviously a lot of the attention from this game is going to be on the goal that wasn't, but we'll get into that later. In the meantime, be impressed by a great coaching job by Marc Crawford and a complete effort by the team as a whole as they did what many didn't think possible after the ups and downs of the past few weeks: beat a red hot Red Wings team on the road.
Mike Ribeiro put the Stars on the board first, when his pass intended for Ott bounced off the stick of a Red Wings defensemen and past goaltender Jimmy Howard. The power play goal put the Stars up 1-0 and seemingly stunned the Red Wings and the home crowd, who looked a bit lost in the fist 15 minutes of the game.The Stars survived a last-period surge by the Red Wings, and then received a great chance to test their penalty kill unit in the second period. The Stars successfully killed off four power play opportunities for the Red Wings in the middle frame, continuing a trend where that unit has signficantly improved upon the struggles from early in the season.
Matt Niskanen put the Stars up 2-0 with a big shot from the point past a Loui Eriksson screen. Henrik Zetterberg then put the Wings right back into the game and within one goal, when he powered past Brad Richards and to the net before lifting a shot over Auld's shoulder. The Wings seized momentum yet Auld stood tall in net and easily had his best game of the season for the Stars.
Loui Eriksson then put the game away late in the third period when he tapped in a James Neal pass on the power play. The Red Wings outshot the Stars 12-7 in the third period, but Auld and an excellent Stars backcheck fanned any fire Detroit tried to start.
Overall, a great win for the Stars and one they should be proud of. But the big test comes tomorrow night when they try to get that elusive winning streak going.
More breakdown of the game after the jump.
- As I mentioned above, this was easily Alex Auld's best game as a Dallas Star, but that's also tied into how the players in front of him performed as well. Gone were the defensive breakdowns we've seen along the boards, gone were the uncontrolled rebounds in front of the net and the multiple chances for the opposition to hack away at Auld. The Red Wings did put some heavy pressure on in the third period, but for the Stars to allow 30 shots with a minimum of rebound opportunities is tremendous.
- This was certainly the Stars' best coached game of the season. Marc Crawford and his assistants put together the perfect gameplan to play to the Stars' strengths and combat the offensive firepower of the Red Wings. Using a rare 2-2-1 technique (rare for the Stars at least) in the neutral zone in the first period, the Stars never allowed the Wings to get any momentum in transition and the strong backchecking by Stars forwards kept the Wings from establishing any sustained pressure. Some quick counterpunches and a power play goal later and the Stars are well on their way to a solid road victory.
- This week we called out Steve Ott, Trevor Daley and Brenden Morrow as players that needed to seriously step up, but it was Loui Eriksson and Tom Wandell that truly sparked the Stars in the win. Eriksson contributed the back breaking goal, but it was his outstanding work on defense that was the difference in the game. Wandell also provided a thorn in the side of the Red Wings, as he consistently provided a strong back check as well as strong play on the penalty kill.
- I was interested to see how the Stars would respond to Crawford breaking up the lines from what they've typically been the past two seasons or so, but the Stars showed a balanced team tonight both offensively and defensively. Brenden Morrow and Mike Modano worked great together, and Mike Ribeiro looked close to his old self playing with Lehtinen and Steve Ott. Brad Richards was his usual self with two more assists, and James Neal quietly had two assists as well (although his pass to Eriksson on the power play goal was a beauty.) And Mike Modano is on fire.
- Finally, we come to the goal that wasn't. I can honestly tell you that the goal should have counted, even though it was against the Stars. The Puck was clearly over the goal line and was over instantly; there was no rolling over the pads on this one. The refs said that the goal didn't count because the the whistle had blown the play dead, which doesn't make sense on two levels. First, the puck crossed the goalline INSTANTLY; Auld barely had time to react to the shot. Second, the replay clearly shows that the whistle didn't blow until about three seconds after the puck went over the line. So if the refs lose sight of the puck that's fine; but that is what the guys in Toronto are for, supposedly.
Here's the video:
DBD's Three Stars of the Game:
Alex Auld, Dallas: Stopped 30 of 31, including several incredible saves in tight against some great players in Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Brad Richards, Dallas: Two assists in a relatively quiet game, but it's uncanny how he easily springs teammates for prime chances with a subtle pass.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit: Like Auld, Howard made some tremendous saves and kept his team close when the Stars put the pressure on.