*inhale-exhale into a paper bag*
Whew! The Detroit Red Wings flew into Texas to take on a Dallas Stars team missing its leading scorer in Tyler Seguin. So of course the Stars put up six on the Red Wings tonight at American Airlines Center.
We've got a lot to get through so let's get to it!
The Red Wings dominated the start of this game. Shots on goal 8-1 at one point and plenty of forays into the Dallas zone yielded plenty of opportunities, but no goals, the way the Red Wings used to play often. True to form, the Stars won a faceoff and a harmless wrister from the point by Jordie Benn got through to Jimmy Howard, but Jamie Benn in front buried the rebound.
Benn almost made it 2-0, but a 2-on-1 rush ended in a shot off the post. Three minutes later, a Dallas odd-man rush ended at the Red Wing blue line, and Alexey Marchenko fed Riley Sheahan at the Dallas blue line for a counter-rush. Stopping along the half wall, Sheahan found Gustav Nyquist in the high slot who potted home the tying goal.
Pavel Datsyuk asserted his presence in this game, when Tomas Tatar forced a turnover inside the Stars' zone and Datsyuk chased the puck into the corner. He took it out in front and with absolutely no one in green thinking it would be a good idea to get in Datsyuk's way, The Magician made it 2-1 with a flick of the wrists.
The game started to disintegrate for Detroit. Howard did his best but eventually the floodgates opened. First, three Red Wings got caught below the dots in the offensive zone as the puck was heading the other direction. Trevor Daley was on the receiving end of a cross-ice pass to finish off a 2-on-1 as Howard attempted a pad-stack save.
Daley was involved in the next goal, as he fed Cody Eakin at the left point for a shot through traffic Howard didn't even react on. And way before everyone stopped cursing over that goal, Dallas made it 4-2 when Erik Cole was left all alone in front of the crease, and Danny DeKeyser couldn't stop him from potting his third chance in for a two-goal lead.
Detroit's comeback chances took a hit when Henrik Zetterberg was ruled out for the third period with an upper-body injury.
Kronwall confirms the Benn punches on Zetterberg in first period to the head..— Ted Kulfan (@tkulfan) February 22, 2015
Benn received a minor penalty for roughing for the incident.
Despite all the consternation over him throughout this season; despite his constant inclusion as a spare part in rosterbation trade proposals; despite being almost intentionally made to extend his rehab so the Red Wings wouldn't have to make a roster decision on Xavier Ouellet, the current whipping boy Jakub Kindl made his return to the lineup count and had his moment in the sun.
Fifty-six seconds into the third, Kindl one-timed a Luke Glendening pass past Kari Lehtonen to cut the deficit to 4-3. Forty-five seconds later, it was Kindl again, finding the loose puck and burying it home after Tomas Tatar couldn't pot home the breakaway and instead fed a backhand pass through the front of the net for a tie game.
Detroit had 18 minutes left to find the winning goal, but they decided to make the job more difficult. A point shot from Jordie Benn deflected off Curtis McKenzie to give Dallas the lead again at 5-4.
Jamie Benn was very involved in this game, as in addition to a first-period fight with Jonathan Ericsson and the head-shot to Zetterberg, he also drew a very generous penalty call (read: dove), which Dallas promptly converted for a 6-4 lead. Head coach Mike Babcock pulled Howard at this point and put in Jonas Gustavsson for his first NHL action in who knows how long.
Two-goal lead restored for the Stars, the Red Wings needed to answer. They came back from a two-goal deficit once already thanks to Jakub Kindl, and they would need to do so again. Despite the league's No. 1 power play looking anything but worthy of that ranking on the first two opportunities, Detroit got one more chance on the man-advantage. Niklas Kronwall fired a point shot and Justin Abdelkader deflected it past Lehtonen for a 6-5 game with 7:13 to play.
One of tonight's heroes in Kindl took a hooking penalty to put the Stars on another power play. The Red Wings managed to kill it off, and they still had a chance. Gustavsson pulled, Tomas Tatar carried the puck across the blue line with Abdelkader driving the net. A shot caused a wild scramble and who else but Pavel Datsyuk would backhand the puck into the cage to tie the game at 6-6 with 1:48 to play. The Magic Man pulled another one out of the hat and this game went to overtime.
Detroit got control of the puck in their defensive zone. Datsyuk carried it through the neutral zone and gave it to Darren Helm on the wing. In the corner, Helm found an open Kronwall at the point. Kronwall made an aggressive cut to the middle, driving the net and firing a backhand to END THE GAME AND WIN IT FOR THE RED WINGS!!!
- That Nyquist goal was his first in six games and his second in nine games. The Red Wings need Gus to put more pucks in the net as they get through a tough road stretch coming up.
- Also featured in that Nyquist goal was Marchenko's first NHL point. For a guy who's come a long way from recovering from an injury to looking pretty good in this call-up, congratulations to the kid.
- I'm not sure the linesmen understand what "intentional offsides" is supposed to mean.
- Jakub Kindl wasn't one of the stars of the game, and I think that's a bit criminal. His two goals gave the Red Wings life and literally brought them back into the game, tying it at 4 apiece. He didn't play a perfect game because that's what Kindl is at this point, but he earned his moment and he's getting it here in this recap.
- This game. I'm still wondering how I'm breathing. The Detroit team from last season showed up in an ugly way in the second period. Fragile mentally and giving up way too much to the opposition. The Red Wings stopped playing, and last season, that would have buried them.
- But this isn't last season. Whatever happened in the second intermission, Detroit dug deep and made this a game again. First, it was Kindl bringing the Red Wings back with some great plays. Then when the Red Wings could have folded on the game and called it "not our night" when Benn's dive drew a penalty, they instead fought back for two more goals. Over a long period of time, not having Zetterberg is going to hurt the Red Wings. But for one night, this team showed a ton of moxie in this comeback win keyed by four goals without the presence of the captain.
- This game featured a lot of talk about goaltender interference. Here are my two cents: The NHL will make zero progress in enforcing this rule clearly and consistently until they clean up the language of the rulebook. Not even video review or a coach's challenge is going to help if the referees have their hands tied behind their back because of clear-as-mud interpretations of the NHL's "Interference on the Goalkeeper" rule.
Two points. The Red Wings came away with a huge two points. The points and wins are all worth the same (except the shootout) but Detroit has to feel good with the results from this game. Babcock will be all up in their faces about the process as the Red Wings head out to California for a trek through Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose.
The games don't get any easier, so the Red Wings will have to play better through the whole 60 minutes in each of the rest of the games on this road trip. But this was a confidence-boosting and inspiring win. Roll with it and enjoy the rest of the weekend before hitting Southern California.