Man, the first five minutes of this one were real boring, but maybe that’s a good thing. To start the game, Blashill put Mantha on a line with Namestnikov and Ryan, so at least we had that to chew on in the meantime. Plus, Brome on the first line, so sometimes dreams do come true, at least for the Brome fans in the room. Dallas maintained control of play in the early going, but only managed one shot better than Detroit to make the shot tracker at the first commercial break 1-0 in Dallas’s favor.
Half way through the period, something happened! Detroit had too many men on the ice, thanks to a little mix up between DeKeyser and Stecher. Dallas’s powerplay that was played up in the pre-game like Thanos in 2012 only got off two relatively unthreatening shots. Good PK by Detroit overall to keep Dallas to the outside.
Detroit would actually be the team to get on the board first, and on their first shot, no less. The Wings took to dumping the puck to break Dallas’s 1-1-3 defensive scheme and it actually worked! Djoos dumped the puck, Smith chased it down faster than the Stars’ D could get turned around, Smith pitched the puck to Hirose on the other side of Dallas’s net, centering a pass from Hirose, and finally the backhander off Namestnikov’s stick for his first of the season! 1-0 Red Wings!
Detroit managed to put two more whole shots on net in the next few minutes! Making the best of that momentum! In a moment where Dallas nearly seized it back, however, when Greiss misplayed a puck behind the net, but some great positioning from Rasmussen and DeKeyser kept the crease clear and allowed a stray rolling puck to be hauled away.
Detroit would continue to dump and chase for the rest of the period, which allowed them to seize momentum away from the Stars.
With about a minute left Dallas managed a fast break and DeKeyser covered his man a liiiitle too hard, forcing him into Greiss and drawing the goaltender interference call. It was a weak call, as Mickey Redmond was quick to point out, but the Wings will take it. It just left me waiting for a make-up call early in the second. The Wings couldn’t convert before the period ended, but that just meant Detroit would start the second period with a minute left in the powerplay opportunity.
Not the most exciting period of hockey, but it was a smooth, easy drink after the hell-on-the-throat games in Chicago, and hey, you can never complain much when you’ve got a lead.
Score: 1-0 Red Wings
Shots: 5-5 Tie
Stand Outs: Michael Rasmussen, Vlad Nemestnikov, defensive play across the board
Sit Downs: The unbiased part of me wants to say the refs for the weak call. Otherwise it was a clean opening frame.
Detroit couldn’t get anything squeezed from the remaining minute of power play time at the period’s start. Not a very deadly or even competent looking power play.
Nametsnikov’s line looked like Detroit’s best quite a while in the early going, which in some ways makes a lot of sense. A plug line like that can get some energy moving against a stingy Dallas defense. You know, the usual narratives, not afraid to muck it up, going to the corners, making tough plays, finishing hits, etc etc etc. I don’t like the narrative, but it fits in this case.
Unfortunately, Detroit got caught on their back foot on a Dallas breakaway. A streaking Hronek tried catching Star’s forward Justin Dowling, which shouldn’t have been much of a going concern at all since Ras was back and should have had the guy covered, but with a little chip of the puck Ras was spun around, forcing Hronek to double time and slash Dowling’s stick to prevent the shot.
Start of the penalty kill, Dallas wins the puck cleanly, shuffles it out to the blue line, slap shot, and Greiss would have had the stop, I’m quite certain of it, but the shot redirected ever so slightly off Nemeth’s thigh, propelling the puck up and over Greiss’s shoulder to tie the game at 1 apiece. Real unfortunate for Detroit, but that’s the way it goes. Goal goes to John Klingberg.
The one kind of traffic we can get behind pic.twitter.com/BcgZfh3lm3— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 27, 2021
Then the make up for that soft call in the first came, sending Larkin to the box on a weak hooking charge. Greiss had to be up for several challenges, and when he wasn’t, the post managed to save his bacon. Gurianov rung one off the iron for Dallas, which is as close as Dallas got to taking the lead.
Detroit managed to use the momentum from the successful PK to tilt the ice in their favor again, generating a number of good opportunities that just didn’t see the light of day, including a couple of passes that probably should have been shots. Of course, then Dallas got on the power play again thanks to Luke Glendening interfering with Esa Lindell. Detroit only had to kill off a minute before Pavelski got sent off for a hooking call, giving Detroit some 4-on-4 time. Nothing exciting came out of it, though, and by the time Detroit got to their minute on the man-advantage I think Detroit spent more time with the puck behind Greiss than in front of him.
The period ended without a whole lot of excitement, but that’s alright. Detroit played another solid period against a good team that is admittedly missing a lot of good players, but Detroit has been missing some of its best forwards as well, and lest we forget, Dallas did make it to the Finals last year. You want to be winning 10-0 at the end of the second, but in an attempt to be unbiased I’d say a 1-1 tie feels about right after two periods of play.
Score: 1-1 Tie
Shots: 17-12 Stars
Stand Outs: Greiss had some really good saves.
Sit Downs: Larkin’s line needed to get more going. No major screw ups or anything, but in a low-event game you’re going to look to that top forward line and defensive pairing to get some electricity.
The third period started about as exciting as the first, with five minutes cruising by like a warm summer day. Namestnikov had another good opportunity to be the bright spot of the early going. Again, not that it was bad or anything, but both teams were forced to play a lot in the neutral zone or to the outside around the boards. Even when Dallas had over a minute of sustained time in Detroit’s zone, they were never really able to get the shot they wanted, instead cycling the puck around the perimeter until eventually Detroit poked it out of the zone.
Brome showed some skills throughout the second and third that were at least entertaining to watch. It was interesting seeing him lug the puck all over the ice in a way that really slowed the game down. It’s easy to appreciate the European influences on his style of play, and the differences in style necessitated by larger and smaller ice sizes, by watching him because he has had so few games in North America. He also had some good scoring opportunities to prove he should be up on a scoring line (although I can appreciate the thought process of easing him into the NHL by placing him on a checking line early in the season, too.)
Late in the game we got to see something that was so, so rare last year: the Wings were hungry late in the game/ They weren’t getting caved, and in fact were getting better of last year’s second best team. And when you push the play, good things happen. Mantha went crashing to the crease while Ryan dug the puck out of the corner. A centering pass from Ryan to Mantha drew yet another hooking call, this one against the Stars, giving the Red Wings the chance to take the lead with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Of course, maybe when you’re the Red Wings the best thing that can happen is that you remain at 5-on-5. The first unit did very little, but the second unit had a great chance off a Hirose shot-pass to Rasmussen. Ras just couldn’t lift the puck over Khudobin’s pad. Dallas managed to kill off the remainder of Detroit’s power play, which, you know, sucked.
Dallas looked real scaring in the waning minutes, especially after an icing that marooned a number of the Wings’ oldest players on the ice. Detroit got one last opportunity in the last 30 seconds, but it was not to be, so the teams headed for overtime.
Score: 1-1 Tie
Shots: 21-21 Tie
Stand Outs: Brome, the second power play unit probably deserves a soft “Stand Out” award.
Sit Downs: Nobody, but everyone was looking for a hero, and no one emerged, so the heroes are the losers here.
Larkin, Bertuzzi, and Hronek to start again, but Dallas wasn’t giving any space, so they opted to play back to greiss for a change. Mantha, Namestnikov, and Stetcher got a good opportunity, but the puck was poked away. Bad clearing attempt by Stetcher leads to a turnover leads to a puck high on Greiss’s left side, 2-1 Dallas Stars, game, set, and match.
Score: 2-1 Stars
Shots: 22-21 Stars
Stand Outs: It didn’t really last long enough for anyone to show some shine.
Sit Downs: Stetcher
That game was the type of game I think we all needed to see after the rout in Chicago, except for the way it ended, obviously. This one could have gone either team’s way and was promising for a team trying to put itself back together. But when is the offense going to come? We’re all left wondering.
These two teams are back at it on Friday. I’m predicting this will be one of those times where the sequel fixes all the problems with the first movie. It’s a rematch I’m looking forward to.