In the spirit of the new year, the Wings decided to go against custom by looking backwards instead of forwards. The team that took the ice Tuesday night in Dallas gave a performance we would have likely seen in 2010, not 2011, but they still managed to get 2 valuable points.
The Red Wings took their terrible road record into Dallas and came away with 2 points, doing so by simply out-offensing (it's a word) the Stars while getting terrible goaltending. With the way some of the Stars' shots were going in, you'd think it was Chris Osgood in net.
The second line continued their strong play as they scored the game's first goal. After having some sustained pressure for the most of their shift, Valtteri Filppula found himself with the puck and an empty net, and he made no mistake in making it 1-0. That line was back at it later in the period when Henrik Zetterberg fanned on a shot yet it still bounced off Jiri Hudler's skate and in, giving the Wings their first of many 2-goal leads. The Stars got that right back 50 seconds later when Loui Eriksson continued his assault of the Wings with a wrist shot that made it through every player on the ice and past Jimmy Howard, cutting the lead to 1. Hudler restored the 2-goal lead as he finished off a beautiful 3-way with Filppula and Zetterberg.
The second period was another wild 20 minutes of hockey. Jamie Benn scored early in the second on a shot that Jimmy Howard should have saved, and the Stars were back to within a goal. Cory Emmerton restored the 2-goal advantage when Kari Lehtonen gave up a soft goal of his own, letting the puck bounce in off him and in. Michael Ryder kept the Stars alive when his shot went under Howard's arm, but the Wings got that one back when Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from Benn and fed the Mule, who went top shelf and made the score 5-3 heading into the third.
The Wings sat back and tried to protect their lead through most of the third period, but the ultra-talented Ryder struck again as he used Nicklas Lidstrom as a screen and ripped another shot past Howard, meaning for the 4th time in the game the Stars had reduced the Wings' lead to 1. However, they were unable to score again, and the Wings earned 2 points in an ugly, albeit effective fashion.
- Earlier this season, it was said that if Johan Franzen scores a goal, then the Wings are going to win. Change Franzen to Filppula, and the phrase is still true. Flip scored his 13th goal of the season, and every single one of his goals has come in a Wing victory. We need a new saying to replace "Feed the Mule".
- Only one penalty called in the entire game, and it was an obvious one on Todd Bertuzzi (redundant sentences are redundant). I thought both teams played a fairly clean game, but the refs just let them play rather than call every little thing. However, this just adds fuel to the "Wings get all the breaks" conspiracy because if anyone has seen the Wings' PK this year, they know that if they want the Wings to lose, they will call penalties on them. I'm just glad the refs got the memo about not calling any penalties on Nicklas Lidstrom because of his reputation.
- Gotta love games where the goalies decide not to show up. Both Howard and Kari Lehtonen were bad-to-downright-terrible at different times tonight, and while it made for an exciting game, seeing Howard give up some bad goals as he did is something we're not used to this year. His numbers have been incredible, and he has been the Wings' MVP through the first half of the season, but he was the worst player on the ice for the Wings tonight, and was the sole reason that the Stars were able to stay in the game. The Benn and first Ryder goal were both easy saves that Howard should have had. A typical 2011-12 effort from him and this game isn't even close.
- The second line was ridiculous tonight, especially in the first period as they dominated the Stars on every shift. Zetterberg assisted on all 3 of that line's goals, while Flip also had a 3-point night. In the spirit of the season, I'm going to call that entire line that Player of the Game, because to limit it to one of them would be disregarding the play of the others.
- It was nice to hear the cheers from the Wing fans that attended the game. I'm sure that every single one of them was born and raised in Detroit or Michigan, because those are the only kind of fans that are allowed to cheer for a team, right Stars fans?
- Besides Howard, the other issue arising from this game was the Wings' inability to put away a team missing half of their defense corps. Understandably, Howard was the biggest reason for that, but the Wings could have salted this game away very easily against an under-manned Stars' squad that doesn't have a lot of depth of talent to begin with. I'm chalking it up to too much champagne at New Year's combined with bad food in the Dallas hotel.