The Detroit Red Wings scored two power play goals, the Dallas Stars failed to convert on any of their five extra-man opportunities, and that turned out to be the big story as the Wings skated away with a tight 2-1 victory.
Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Steve Ott scored the Detroit goals, while Esa Lindell had the lone Dallas tally.
Kari Lehtonen was sharp in net for the Stars, but Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek was better, making 34 saves, including 17 in the final 20 minutes.
Dallas certainly had their chances to tie up the game in the final frame. They had a two-man advantage for 46 seconds with just over seven minutes left to play, but as alluded to earlier, they were not able to capitalize and make Detroit pay for their mistakes. It was a fittingly frustrating ending for an already frustrated Stars team.
The game couldn’t have possibly started better for the Stars. They jumped into an aggressive forecheck right out of the gate (thanks in large part to a pep talk from normal play-by-play announcer Dave Strader, who continues to battle cancer) and were immediately rewarded, with Lindell’s shot from the boards bouncing off a Red Wings defender and into the net just 26 seconds in.
Detroit, however, answered back before the end of the frame. With Stephen Johns in the sin bin Dylan Larkin’s power play shot from the high slot bounced off of Jordie Benn’s skate and past a helpless Lehtonen to tie it up 1-1.
The Red Wings would pad their lead again on the man-advantage in the second on a beautiful give-and-go between Mantha and Zetterberg. A long stretch pass sprung Mantha behind all the Stars defenders to enter the zone, and after dishing the puck to Zetterberg he received a return pass back that went through Jamie Oleksiak and was slammed into a yawning net.
Dallas put forth a spirited effort in the third period, pushing the pace as the Red Wings fell into a predictable defensive shell. The effort was there, but the precision and the luck were not, as numerous quality chances either missed the net or were blocked by stout defending from Detroit, eventually culminating in an empty-net goal by Ott. It’s been that kind of way for the Stars all season long, and tonight turned out to be another example of it.
Thoughts And Observations:
- Tyler Seguin continues to add up points, adding another assist tonight off of Lindell’s goal, yet they’ve been hard to notice lately. There’s no doubt that Seguin is one of the most skilled players in the league, but there haven’t been enough instances where he truly stands out while on the ice, tonight included. The Stars desperately need Seguin to make more of an impact that he’s been making the last few games.
- One other note on Seguin: his goalless drought has now cracked 11 games.
- Speaking of making an impact, boy, the exact opposite is true for Jamie Oleksiak right now. He was all over the ice tonight making strong plays, including another nice scoring chance off the rush. Most impressive, however, is how quickly he is able to get back on defense after jumping up in the play. He’ll want a mulligan on Detroit’s second goal, but he’s brimming with confidence right now and getting better with each game.
- Julius Honka led all Stars defenders in ice time and did not look out of place one bit. His skating, puck control and high hockey IQ create such a tantalizing combination. He took over for the healthy-scratched John Klingberg as the quarterback on the team’s top power play unit this game, and despite their overall inability to score, Honka was the best member tonight.
- Curtis McKenzie drew back into the lineup tonight and has a feisty game, including coming up with a few scoring chances of his own. The 4th line showed more of a spark than it has in recent games, which would be a good reason to keep McKenzie in for at least the next game.
- And finally, farewell, Joe Louis Arena, one of the toughest barns in the NHL to leave with a win. May the Stars have much better luck in Detroit’s new home next season.