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Spezzal Returns: Wings bring the z’s in 4-2 snoozefest loss to Dallas Stars

Spezza scores two and the Wings put up only 15 shots in awful performance

Dallas Stars v Detroit Red Wings

The Wings welcomed the Dallas Stars to town for their first meeting at the new Pizzarena riding high off a complete game shutout of the Blackhawks in their barn on Sunday afternoon while the Stars come in off a holiday overtime victory in Boston. Let's see how things played out on Anthony Mantha's bobblehead night.

Link to NHL Box Score

First Period

Things start out quick for the Wings as on the second shift of the game, Tyler Bertuzzi steals it from Klingberg just outside the Dallas blue line, takes a shot, gets his own rebound, circles behind the net, and then finds Daley sneaking in for the easy put-in to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. This doesn’t last long, as just 2:48 in, the Stars tie it up as a point shot from Lindell gets tipped by Radek Faksa and then makes it through the heavy traffic in front of Howard to tie the game a 1-1.

From here, the teams keep up the pace with forwards flying in at D-men, but not a lot of clean carrying through center. This keeps up until Luke Witkowski gives us our first penalty of the game on an elbow to Hanzal at center. Hanzal was already falling and this one is probably a reputation call more than a real penalty. The Stars get 54 seconds in prior to Turgeon getting another two minutes for a delay of game for accidentally tipping an already-cleared puck up over the glass to give a 5-on-3 advantage. Dallas kills all but two seconds of the first penalty before Klingberg take a shot from the center point that Spezza tips past Howard to make it 2-1 Dallas.

From there, Dallas ends the rest of the PP with Hanzal tripping up Jensen in the Wings’ zone with 40 seconds left in Turgeon’s sit. The Wings waste all but about 10 seconds of the advantage before even getting a shot attempt (it wasn’t on net), and then the Stars immediately get another scoring chance.

Things settled from there back to the pace from earlier. Not really high-shooting, but both teams skating/hitting hard (and icing the puck). The next flurry of chances came to Dallas with about three minutes to go after the Wings tried passing back to the Dallas point while their defense was changing, creating instant transition for the Stars. Howard comes up big again and the damage is averted. The last good chances for the Wings comes with just over a minute with Larkin finding AA for a good chance that misses on the short side and then again with ten seconds remaining as Mantha fed Zetterberg near the net-front.

The period summed up in one sentence: Tequila weekend hockey: not pretty, but fun at least.

Score: 2-1 Dallas

Shots: 10-6 Dallas

Standout Players: Bertuzzi, Athanasiou

Sitdown Players: Kronwall

Second Period

The period starts with the Stars being the more-structured team in the early-going as it took about three minutes for the Wings to start putting together plays and pushing back, but there really weren’t any dangerous chances for either side through the first five minutes.

7:18 in, Tyler Bertuzzi draws a Radulov hooking penalty dipsy-doodling away from him with the puck just outside the Wings’ zone. The Wings win the draw and get set up immediately, but don’t get a shot off, drawing boos from the crowd about a minute in. As the Radulov penalty expires just prior to the hafway point of the period, the Stars have five of the six total shots in this frame.

A few minutes later, AA ties it on a breakaway as Tyler Bertuzzi makes some space with the puck in his own zone and finds a streaking Athanasiou up ice who gets in behind the defense and embarrasses Bishop before sliding it into the net to make it 2-2.

Up next, Luke Witkowski fights Steven Johns for a clean hit on Turgeon, which I’m sure Turgeon and Witkowski’s teammates appreciate, but I don’t really care to see, especially given that Witkowski is given an extra roughing penalty for doing it and the Stars end up on the PP. The first good chance on this PP belongs to Nielsen though, as AA and he combine for a rush chance that hits the post. Shortly after, Jason Spezza makes it 3-2 Dallas taking a backdoor pass and popping it in before Howard can get set.

Nothing else of note to finish this one out, except for one pretty good shift by AA-Larkin-Bertuzzi late.

The period summed up in one sentence: Jason Spezza healthy scratch bounceback game.

Score: 3-2 Dallas

Shots: 13-4 Dallas (23-10 overall)

Standout Players: Bertuzzi, Athanasiou

Sitdown Players: Witkowski, Mantha

Third Period

Detroit starts off really starting to gamble more with their defense activating and getting near success in creating shots on goal, but nothing worthwhile. Dallas gets the first shots on goal shy of four minutes in and they’re good-looking chances that come of a Zetterberg turnover in his own end.

The Wings keep up trying to create shots and finally do get one... immediately followed by Jonathan Ericsson getting caught up ice and the Stars making it 4-2 on the finish of an odd-man rush where Hanzal cleans up a rebound after Elie cuts across the crease.

I don’t have a gif of this one because I’m assuming all the regular giffers have fallen asleep at this point.

Detroit took until 13:37 of the third period before putting their second shot on goal. Dallas was just all over them and the Wings couldn’t string together two passes if the Stars took the rest of the night off anyway.

Detroit pulls Howard with more than four minutes to go down by two and Jamie Benn hits the post from 150 feet away about 30 seconds later. Detroit does create some good looks/actual shots on goal here, but the Stars are so unimpressed they decide to hit the post two more times just for fun.

The period summed up in one sentence: Twenty-to-life without parole.

Score: 4-2 Stars

Shots: 5-3 Wings (23-15 Dallas overall)

Standout Players: Nah

Sitdown Players: Zetterberg, Nyquist

Final Thoughts

  • The refs have now twice in the last four Wings games given a roughing penalty for a textbook instigator because they don’t want to give a guy the automatic misconduct he’s earned. It’s basically frontier justice in actively rewriting the rulebook for the guys in stripes and it makes me unreasonably angry. This should honestly cost a ref his job.
  • I always forget how angry and subtly dirty Jamie Benn always plays. That guy’s a stain.
  • Despite the points he’s been putting up of late, Anthony Mantha still looks “off” and it showed in this game. I’m kind of hoping this is a result of his nagging injury still nagging, but the surprisingly explosive speed hasn’t been there and his positioning is just a little bit behind where he should be. I don’t think it’s an “engagement level” thing, but I’m not in the room.
  • It looked like the Wings were trying to bore Ben Bishop to death through two periods. It also looked like the plan was kind of working. The problem with only getting a handful of chances is that you have to finish on more of them that way.
  • I didn’t notice Danny DeKeyser this whole game.
  • 15 shots on goal is positively abysmal.

Wings get another break, as they don’t play again until Carolina comes to town on Saturday.