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Game Recap: Red Wings 3, Stars 1

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Mantha, Larkin and Mrazek star in strong win against the Stars

NHL: Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings are being praised coming off a 2-1 overtime loss vs. Montreal Saturday night, so yes, they’ve already become the Little Engine That Could before December. The Detroit Red Rudys take on the Dallas Stars tonight, a team with much higher expectations coming into the season but have also had their share of disappointment. Dallas has struggled with injuries, leading the NHL in man games lost. They’ve also had a (relatively) slow start from perennial Hart Trophy candidate Jamie Benn and some locker room strife with young stalwart defenseman John Klingberg having to sit a game after sleeping in for a practice.

A familiar albeit heavily bearded face leads the Stars in scoring. Patrick freaking Eaves has nine goals, serving both as a powerplay finisher and perfect top line side car. The one damn fourth liner Ken Holland has given up on in the past four years has now become a leading goal scoring on a contending team. SIGH.

If the Red Wings want to beat Dallas tonight, it’ll be important to capitalize early on their young def-OH!

Dallas just scored. Sixteen seconds in. So it’s going to be that kind of night.

(Cracks 24 oz. beer)

Well lets get on with it then.

First Period

1-0 Stars (Lindell (2) at 0:16 from Seguin and Eakin)

Stars get the puck in deep, get an initial shot and young Esa Lindell uses the ol’ “throw the puck at the net, good things happen” adage to get his second goal of the season. Can you imagine all the poor folks at the Joe penned up behind the usher finally getting let into their seats only after this goal? What a terrible way to start the night.

By the way, there’s only one Esa and his last name is Tikkanen.

The Red Wings have a great response from Tomas Jurco and the Wings fourth line. I was a little wary of Jurco playing on the fourth line instead of Glendening but at this point I’m so exhausted with how he’s been used in his three years up and down with this team I’m just resigned. There was a lot of talk of him losing 10 pounds after his back surgery and how he’ll look faster. He demonstrated by hitting the post on a rush. Him and Sheahan continued to drive the play every shift, impressively considering they were matched against the Stars top line a couple times.

Perhaps it’s the effort of Sheahan’s line. Perhaps it’s the tired legs of Dallas playing the night before. Perhaps it’s attrition just slowing down this less potent Stars squad. Thankfully the game has stabilized without another Stars goal.

Wings get a powerplay, clean draw by Nielsen to Larkin who uses traffic in front to score his seventh goal of the season! Quick release of the face off, couldn’t get more textbook than that.

Stars 1, Red Wings 1 (Larkin (7) PP at 19:21 from Green and Nielsen)

Great job by the Wings to dig their heels in after the super early goal by the Stars. They could’ve collapsed after a stunner like that similar to the 5-0 blowout in Montreal a couple weeks ago. This isn’t last year’s Stars team (at the moment) but still, the Wings demonstrating they’re at least in better mental shape than a couple weeks ago.

Penalties

DAL- Stephen Johns (Interference, 19:15)

DET- Sproul (High-sticking, 9:47)

Shots

DAL- 9

DET- 7

Second Period

The Red Wings have come out with some clear jump. Tatar beats Lehtonen on a rush, hitting the crossbar (poor guy continues to be snake bit) then Mantha fires a cannonball just wide.

Ott draws a penalty on Jordie (the bearded) Benn! Bet we’ll see a column about that in the Free Press tomorrow. Power play Wings. Already, this Vanek-Larkin-Nyquist line continues to shine after the first goal and a solid first period. Great chance on a beauty feed from Goose, Larkin just misses from the wing.

MANTHA.

Red Wings 2, Stars 1 (Mantha (3) PP at 7:56 from Zetterberg and Kronwall)

The beautiful golden young man gets his third goal of the season, using legit strength and reach to poke in a cross feed from Zetterberg. What a gorgeous goal. What a gorgeous young player. Vegas is going to give him the love he deserves. Have to make mention too, the entry sprung by a perfect neutral zone pass from Kronwall.

Other than a couple chaotic sequences in Detroit’s zone and a couple good power play chances, Dallas was soundly outplayed by the Wings. Pretty happy with that period, no complaints. All four lines rolling, especially the fourth line with Jurco. He’s given Sheahan jump and he seems like he’s in statement mode. I’m kind of hoping this leads to a third period promotion but really, nothing’s broke, don’t fix it.

Penalties

DAL- Jordie Benn (Hooking, 6:19), Curtis McKenzie (Tripping, 16:26)

DET- Kronwall (Slashing, 10:39)

Shots

DAL- 9

DET- 10

Second Intermission Interview with Dave Strader

If you’re reading this recap because you couldn’t watch the game on TV, do whatever you can to watch the replay or track down this interview with Mickey Redmond and Dave Strader.

For those who don’t know, Strader, the Wings play-by-play man from 1985 to ‘96, was diagnosed with incurable bile duct cancer over the summer. Strader, who has notably worked for ESPN, NBCSN and the Arizona Coyotes, was nominated for a local emmy for his play-by-play work for the Stars last season. Strader is likely making his last visit to Joe Louis Arena and got to announce the lineup to the Stars locker room before the game.

It was a heartwarming moment between him and The Mick; two old friends sharing memories knowing they probably don’t have much time left.

Third Period

Period starts again with Larkin being targeted with a dirty hit by Roussel. Seems like almost every game someone is taking a run from behind at the kid or throwing a knee at him and I’m sick of it. I don’t know how to digest it other than hold my breath. Somehow he’s escaped injury so far. Part of me wishes it was still the days of the enforcer, part of me knows that wouldn’t really settle much, all of me doesn’t know what the Wings should do to protect him. Clearly teams are going after him, I’m scared of how it will end.

Julius Honka is such a cool name.

The third period has drawn to a lull similar to majority of the first period. With the Stars injuries, they’re not as dynamic as perceived. Then the Red Wings, well, pretty as Mantha’s goal was, yeah, this is still a good team to nap to. We’re seeing that right now.

UH OH, Ott with those savvy and valuable penalty killing skills, trips Honka at the point and we got a two-man advantage in a one goal game with under 10 minutes in regulation.

Mrazek has been so good seeing the puck through traffic tonight. Smooth east to west game, pushing through bodies and angling up on Dallas’ shooting lanes.

AND WE GOT A FIGHT! Like, a real fight, not an Abdelkader or Ericsson fight, a real fight between Ouellet and Roussel; “two Frenchies” as Mick so eloquently puts it. Ouellet, who probably wouldn’t throw without the mustache, using the power of his handle bars to drop Roussel faster than his corsi.

(Note: Roussel went after Larkin earlier. This was probably only heat of the moment retaliation for getting in Mrazek’s kitchen, but I like to think it was partially sticking up for Larkin too.)

AND NOW SHARP AND MRAZEK CATCH SOME HANDS! Get the hell out of there Sharp. Goodness. Kronwall goes to give him a hug. And now we’ll have a clusterbleep of penalties. Remember I said this game was in a lull a couple minutes ago?

We got 4 on 4 under four minutes left in regulation and for some stupid freaking reason Vanek is serving Mrazek’s penalty. I don’t know. I just don’t know why you wouldn’t want one of your best forwards as an option 4 on 4. Whatever.

And Vanek gives it up to Ott off the turnover and Ott caps it on an empty netter. FULL PAGE SPREAD IN THE DAILIES TOMORROW!

Red Wings 3, Stars 1 (Ott (2) at 18:57 from Vanek)

Penalties (ugh)

DAL- Jason Spezza (High-sticking, 8:09), Antoine Roussel (Fighting, 14:37), Patrick Sharp (Roughing, 16:13)

DET- Tatar (Tripping, 4:27). Ericsson (Interference, 11:26), Ouellet (Fighting, 14:37), Mrazek (Roughing, 16:13)

Shots

DAL- 17 (wha)

DET- 3 (huh)

Final Shots

DAL- 35

DET- 20

Final Thoughts

Good all around win for the Red Wings. They rebounded off a shocking start, stood their ground and got a relatively balanced performance from all four lines despite being significantly outshot. I thought Jurco and Tatar especially stood out on the forecheck and creating chances. Mantha was again, one of the best players on the ice for either team. He continues to find chances and work well deep in the zone. Out of everyone, Mrazek stood out. At times Dallas swarmed and he never wavered. His first two starts of this new slate couldn’t have gone better. Mrazek is still raw, still plays off emotion. Tonight was another building block in hopefully a good run of starts for him.

Next up, a vulnerable Panthers team. Nothing to do but keep snatching points.