Dallas Stars: Darren Helm
The loss ran the Stars’ winless streak to three games (0-2-1) and left them four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Red Wings came out strong against the Stars, scoring two goals in the first 9:15 of the game and holding that lead until late in the game, when they extended it to 3-0.
Adam Burish tallied the lone goal for the Stars, who scored two goals or fewer for the 12th time in the last 14 games.
Henrik Zetterberg, Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler scored for Detroit, which improved to 6-1-1 since the All-Star break and moved four points ahead of Vancouver for first overall in the Western Conference.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 34 of 37 shots in the game for the Stars.
Detroit's Joey MacDonald made 20 saves on 21 shots.
Detroit outshot the Stars 20-10 in the first 20 minutes and scored two goals in the first half the period.
The Red Wings went on the game’s first power play 7:24 into the game and scored 33 seconds later. Henrik Zetterberg scored off the rebound off his own centering pass from the side of the crease to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at the 7:57 mark of the first period.
Detroit made it 2-0 at the 9:15 mark. After Darren Helm won an offensive zone draw, Brad Stuart beat a screened Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the right boards.
Detroit was 1-2 on the power play in the period. The Stars did not have a power play.
The Stars were stronger in the second period, but couldn’t cut into the Red Wings’ 2-0 lead. The Stars had some good chances.
Wings goalie Joey MacDonald stopped a Steve Ott chance with just over 12 minutes left in the period.
Mike Ribeiro had a great chance in the final minute, was stopped by MacDonald and then had his rebound chance hit the post.
The Stars penalty kill came up big in the period, stopping two back-to-back Detroit power plays.
The Stars had one power play chance in the period, but couldn’t take advantage.
Detroit outshot the Stars 11-6 in the period and had a 31-16 advantage through the first 40 minutes.
The Stars had some good pressure and plenty of attack time in the third period, but through the first 15 minutes they had one on goal.
At the 15:11 mark of period, the Red Wings put the game out of reach with their third goal of the night as Jiri Hudler finished off an odd-man rush to give the Red Wings a 3-0 lead in the game.
Adam Burish scored with 33 seconds left to the spoil Detroit goaltender Joey MacDonald’s bid for a shutout.
Injured: Morrow (neck/shoulder), Souray (foot)
Scratched: Petersen, Pardy
“Playing Pittsburgh and Detroit, we’ve learned some lessons now,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I’d rather learn them at 11-5 than at 5-11. Our motto in that room is to get better every day and that’s what we are going to try to do. At least were measuring ourselves against the best, historically, in the league than the bottom.
“I can tell you truthfully – I won’t tell you what – but I’ve gotten better over the last three days, watching these teams play and seeing some of the things they do and some of the things we can improve in our game. It’s been a good learning experience.”
First consecutive losses: The Stars have lost consecutive games for the first time this season. At this point last season they had already had two three-game losing streaks.
Winless Raycroft: Stars backup goaltender Andrew Raycroft fell to 0-3-0 on the season. All three of his starts have come on the road and on the second night of a back-to-back. Not an ideal situation for a guy who hasn’t won a game since January 9 of last season. That can be the life of a backup goalie.
“That’s exactly what his job is. I talked to Rayzor at the beginning of the year and in actuality he has one of the tougher jobs of anybody there,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He gets the tougher games and the back-to-backs usually. I thought for the most part, he was OK tonight. We never gave him a chance. There was far too much rubber at the net for him to deal with.”
Another rough third period: In each of the last two games the Stars were after two periods, but lost the third period. They were outscored 2-0 in the third in Pittsburgh Friday night and then outscored 3-0 in the third Saturday night in Detroit. The Stars have now been outscored 19-17 in third periods this season.
Turning point: Detroit defenseman Ian White’s big block. With a little more than 11 minutes remaining in the game, and with Detroit leading 3-2, a diving White takes a puck in the face, denying what looked like a goal by Stars forward Jamie Benn.
“He took one for the team, that's for sure,” Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I think he saved a goal there.”
Less than a minute later Darren Helm scores to make it a 4-2 game and little more than a minute after that Brad Stuart scores to make it 5-2.
Statistical tidbits: The Stars were outshot 40-27 Saturday night and were outshot 72-47 in the games against Detroit and Pittsburgh. The Red Wings won 37 of 64 faceoffs (58 percent). … The Stars were 1-2 on the power play Saturday and are 8-28 (28.6%) on the PP over their last eight games. The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill, marking the fifth time this season they have not allowed a power play goal in a game.
“We have some work to do,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We played two of the elite teams and I thought we were outplayed both nights. We definitely have some work to do to get to this level.”
“First, you have to give them (Detroit and Pittsburgh) credit. Those are two good hockey teams that when everything shakes out will probably be right at the top,” said Stars forward Adam Burish. “Second, it’s just a couple details in our game. We can probably shore up some faceoff plays and shore up our neutral zone, which was kind of the message after the game. We’ll get better at that. … The little things over the course of a game can make a big difference. You saw that tonight and the last game.”
The Red Wings controlled play for the first two periods, holding a 31-18 shots advantage but the game was tied 2-2 going into the second intermission. But the Red Wings scored three times in the third period to take control of the game on the scoreboard and earn their fourth straight win.
"They have a good team, you have to give them credit,” said Stars forward Jamie Benn. “They have a good team game and put pucks on net. We didn't have answer in the third period for it.”
After Stars turned the puck over in their own end, Johan Franzen scored off the rebound of a Valtteri Filppula shot to put the Red Wings up 3-2 early in the third.
The Stars came close to tying it with a little more than eleven minutes remaining, but a shot Benn was stopped by Red Wings defenseman Ian White, who ended up blocking the shot with his face.
Shortly after that, the Red Wings scored twice in a 1:13 span to put the game away. After a neutral zone turnover, Detroit’s Darren Helm made it 4-2 by finishing off a two-on-one and then Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart scored after the Red Wings won an offensive zone draw.
The Stars finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2-0 record and fell to 11-5-0 on the season.
“We had a great start, but that doesn’t mean we are going to go the entire season without losing games,” Burish said. “We’ve got to look at it that we can keep getting better, keep finding ways to improve and keep finding ways to make our team better. This was about as hard a road trip as you are going to go on and we were 2-2. That’ OK. I don’t think anyone is throwing a party over it, but 2-2 is respectable.”
The Stars opened the scoring, cashing in on their first power play chance of the game. After drawing the penalty on Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom that led to the power play, Loui Eriksson was the one to score on it. He grabbed the rebound of a Trevor Daley point shot and put it past a diving Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard 7:09 into the game.
The Red Wings drew even a little more than 10 minutes later when Niklas Kronwall scored off a blast from the top of the left circle.
Detroit took a 2-1 lead early in the second on White’s shot from the right point that made its way through traffic and past Stars goaltender Andrew Raycroft.
The Stars tied it up at 12:11 of the second when Mike Ribeiro set up Brenden Morrow, who beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with a shot from the left circle.
*The Stars were without defenseman Alex Goligoski, who is expected to miss about four weeks with a broken thumb suffered in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
*Stars forward Steve Ott missed his fifth straight game with a hip injury.
*Krys Barch and Philip Larsen, who was recalled from Texas (AHL) on Saturday, were healthy scratches.
*Defenseman Trevor Daley picked up his 100th career assist in the game.
Michael Petrella, from the Red Wings blog WingingitinMotown.com, was kind enough to answer a few Stars questions in preparation for tonight's game. Here goes:
Q: Give us a status report on the Red Wings' start to the season. What are some highlights and lowlights of the season so far?
A: Well, it's no secret that the Wings started out slow, going 0-2 in Sweden (games that were viewed by many as "home games"), ultimately going 3-4-2 in their first nine games. That's the worst start in twenty years in Detroit, so -- as I'm sure you could guess -- lots of fans were slamming their fists against the panic button. But, things have begun to turn around. They're 7-1-1 in their last nine and are showing quite a bit more offense than most thought they would (after losing Samuelsson, Hudler, and Hossa in July). Last week, the Wings were 3-0-0, and outscored their opponents 19-6.
Q: Henrik Zetterberg is certainly playing at a high level. What makes him so effective? Is this the best he's played in his career?
A: Henrik Zetterberg is a special player. Not only is he incredibly talented offensively, he's one of the more responsible two-way forwards in the game. His defense might be overshadowed by teammate Pavel Datsyuk, who is the resident Selke winner of the bunch, but it is clear to everyone who watches Wings games that he's respected enough to play in all scenarios.
He's smart, he's fast, he has an unbelievably accurate shot and he always seems to make the right play: whether its taking the shot or dishing to create a better scoring play, and I think that's what makes him so effective. It's fair to say that last week was the best week of Z's career, culminating in the NHL First Star selection. 4 goals and 5 assists in three games works for me.
Q: How has the top line played? Give us a scouting report on them.
A: The thing about the Red Wings is that it can be tricky to define a "top line." In theory, the top line is Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom. Obviously, Zetterberg and Dan Cleary sometimes get some ice time on what could also be considered the top line, as did Johan Franzen before his injury. But the current trio of Bertuzzi/Datsyuk/Holmstrom is a heck of a line. We all know what Pavel Datsyuk brings to the table, and Tomas Holmstrom is the best in the business at parking his rump in the crease and tipping shots. Todd Bertuzzi is a bit of a wildcard because, while he's creating a lot of chances and seemingly gaining confidence every game, he's still not putting pucks in the net as much as I'm sure Mike Babcock would like. He's buzzing though, lots of posts and opportunities.
Q: Looks like the power play has been solid, but the penalty kill has struggled. Why?
A: For the last few seasons, the penalty kill has been a little touchy. It's hard to put your finger on why that is, because the personnel is there: Zetterberg and Datsyuk are bona fide Selke candidates year in and year out, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby are historic penalty killers, young guys like Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves do a fantastic job, and no one can underestimate the defensive corps of Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, and Stuart. I think that, like many of the question marks in Detroit, the struggles start with the goaltending. For the second year in a row, Chris Osgood is under-performing. New backup Jimmy Howard had a strong week last week, but it remains to be seen if he can be a NHL goaltender on a daily basis.
Also, when Todd McLellan left to be the Sharks new head coach before last season, the special teams in Detroit seemed to take a dip. A lot of fans are quick to blame assistant coach Brad McCrimmon for the defensive lapses and drop in PK, which is an interesting way to look at it.
Q: Give us a few players to watch in tonight's game.
A: Henrik Zetterberg obviously has the hot hand, but Niklas Kronwall is someone who has been putting pucks in the net from the point at a pretty good clip this season. He's got five goals already, which is three more than Brian Rafalski, who is second in defenseman goals on the team.
Jimmy Howard will be making his fourth straight start with Chris Osgood out with the flu. He had two back-to-back one goal games last week, followed by a weaker four goal showing on Saturday. Which Jimmy Howard shows up will be an important thing to watch as the Wings and Stars tussle.
For all the non-Red Wings fans out there, I urge them to watch Darren Helm. No. 43 has been a mainstay on the Red Wings roster for the last two playoff seasons, but this is his first opportunity to play a regular shift in Detroit, and he's special. He's arguably the fastest skater in the league, he hits everything that moves, and although he's not a big guy, he's not the least bit afraid of heading into the corners and doing the dirty work. He's quickly becoming a hometown favorite at the Joe.
Q: With Chris Osgood still dealing with the flu, can you tell us about goalie Jimmy Howard?
A: He will be making his fourth start in a row and seventh of the season. He started out a little slow, but seems to be gaining confidence as the days and weeks go by. He's a fairly large guy, and definitely looks bigger in the net than Chris Osgood does. His biggest issue seems to be controlling his rebounds, which the defense is aware of, as well. The guys who play in front of Howard are doing a much better job of clearing or controlling the rebounds than they were at the beginning of the season.
Q: Any other injuries we should know about?
A: Well, Andreas Lilja is still out (since last March) with post-concussion issues stemming from a fight with Shea Weber of the Predators. Johan Franzen is recovering from a torn ACL and will be out until February at the earliest. Valtteri Filppula, another incredibly talented two-way forward, has just started skating again after breaking his wrist. He'll probably be out until the Holidays. Jason Williams, the third forward on this list, has a long recovery ahead of him after breaking his leg two weeks ago. The injury bug usually bites in February in Hockeytown, but it looks like he got an early start this year.
Q: What else should Stars fans know about the Red Wings?
A: After facing their worst start in quite some time, the Wings seem to be getting it together. They've got a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on, and many of us find ourselves wondering which version of the Red Wings will show up -- not only game to game, but period to period. They've been very inconsistent, but the talent is there. It'd be unwise to look past the lineup they ice -- even with the injuries -- but they're also prone to beating themselves this year.