Stars Drop 5-4 Decision to Detroit Red Wings

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 03: Jordie Benn #58 of the Dallas Stars plays defense against Gustav Nyquist #14 of the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center on January 3, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars were looking to build upon a big win over defending cup champs Boston on Saturday with Detroit in town but instead watched the Red Wings score early and often en route to a 5-4 win on the newly christened "NBC Sports Network" in front of a national television audience.

The Stars had a chance to jump on the Red Wings early when Todd Bertuzzi took a holding penalty just 15 seconds in but they couldn't cash in and would trail for good starting just seven minutes later. The Zetterberg line (Filppula, Hudler) would strike three times in a matter of eleven minutes, making it an uphill climb the rest of the way. Loui Eriksson cut the deficit to 2-1 with just three minutes to play but the Stars couldn't get a one-goal deficit to intermission.

Kari Lehtonen was brilliant in the first period and the Wings could have easily potted three or four more if not for his heroics. Unfortunately, with the score 3-2 early in the second, he gave up a short side goal to [4th line player] and the Stars hindered their own comeback effort again.

Dallas made it a one goal game after trailing by two on four separate occasions but could not score consecutive goals as Detroit answered nearly every time. Defensive miscues continue to haunt the Stars, who are missing 50% of their top six defensive corps in Stephane Robidas, Sheldon Souray and Philip Larsen.

They showed a lot of fight in coming back time and time again but a big first period proved too much to overcome, and it's safe to say that neither team got the goaltending they expect from their number-one keepers.

The lone bright start on the evening came for Stars fans and players when Jordie Benn, older brother of Jamie Benn making his NHL debut assisted on Loui Eriksson's first period goal. Both Benn brothers recorded assists on the play. The two are very close and that had to be a nice moment for them.

The Stars have now lost three of their last four and five of their last eight overall, falling in the standings accordingly. These same Red Wings visit two weeks from tonight on January 17th.

More thoughts shortly. You guys fix this thing and solve all the team's problems while I'm gone.

In their last eight games the Stars have surrendered 6, 3, 4, 3, 5, 4, 2, and 5. That's 32 goals against in eight games (4.00 GA/G), most of which Robidas, Souray and Larsen were present for. It's easy to blame tonight on two iffy goals from Kari Lehtonen and poor defensive coverage on the remainder but at what point does it become a systemic issue? They have not played consistent defensive hockey, as is their stated goal, since the heart of that five game road trip to New York.

We keep saying "this is an aberration, let's move on." We said it about the Florida game. We said it about the crazy shootouts with the Islanders and Avalanche at home. We said it about the Devils game. We said it about the Columbus loss last week. Here's another one where the goal total against is way out of line with this team's expectations. Do we say "Oh well, that won't happen when they're healthy" and just move on?

When does the exception become the rule? These outbursts are becoming more and more frequent.

Nashville, Edmonton and Anaheim are up next and the Stars need to put together a string of victories. Win one lose two is going to see them slide too far. The halfway mark of the season is coming fast.

  • One of the linesmen was in a collision in the first period, was helped off the ice and didn't return for the second. That's a fairly unusual happening and it was amusing watching the lone remaining gentlemen skate from blue line to blue line, doing both jobs. Kudos to him as he really worked his tail off.
  • Jimmy Howard was punctured four times by the Stars and nearly fifth and sixth times if your world view is that posts count as "beating a goaltender." More than that, he left (a lot of) rebounds out in front all night long and the Stars just couldn't get to them. He continues to be fairly mediocre against the Stars, entering this one with a 3-4-0 record but getting the win.
  • Loui Eriksson went into the wall in front of the bench knee first with about five minutes remaining in the second period and got up very gingerly.He finished the game but we'll keep an eye out this week the way things are going on the injury front.
  • Adam Pardy had a busy night, to say the least. When he was on the ice, things happened. He finished -1 but was on the ice for two Stars goals, three Red Wing goals and a near-goal at the end of the second period that would have been his. We swore it was in live but the replay clearly showed post. If Robidas can play on Thursday, Jordie Benn gets the scratch. Right? Right?
  • Jamie Benn, like Adam Pardy, seemed to be present on ice for nearly every goal, for and against. He got better as the game went on and was the alpha male catalyst the Stars need him to be every night on offense. The Ribeiro line, however...
  • The Fiddler/Nystrom/Dvorak line was -3 on the night and without their usual contribution on offense on a night when the Stars needed just one more to get the thing to overtime. You can't rely on your third line to score you a goal night but the Stars seem to need it right now.
  • The game had one penalty called 15 seconds in and that was it. The Stars needed to have done more in a comeback bid in the third to draw a call and give themselves the best possible chance to tie the game.
  • We tend to look to statistics to help us explain outcomes. In hockey it often doesn't help. The Stars had a great night on the faceoff dot, out-hit the Wings, were only out-shot 31-29, didn't give up a single power play opportunity, and yet got pretty severely out-chanced: A statistic that's not official. We'll see what Josh's video review reveals tomorrow but it doesn't feel pretty.
  • Check out our friend Shannon Byrne's excellent photography from tonight's game here.
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