Tonight the Red Wings took on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for a rematch of Tuesday night’s game. Fans came into this one hoping for a much more exciting contest, as despite taking Dallas to overtime in the loss on Tuesday, the game lacked pace and scoring chances were limited in either direction. The Wings were looking to split the series and get back on track after losing 4 of the last 5.
There were a few players that were game time decisions, including Dylan Larkin and Darren Helm who both ended up in the line-up. Taro Hirose and Givani Smith were back in the line-up after being put through the taxi squad hokey pokey. Frans Nielsen was the odd man out come game time. The Red Wings continued their goalie rotation in each series by giving Jonathan Bernier the start after Greiss started Tuesday.
For Dallas, both Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau were out of the line-up making for a bit of a skeleton roster for the Stars. Between the pipes, Jake Oettinger made his NHL regular season debut. A big key to this game was for the Wings to test the young netminder and try to get him uncomfortable early.
Could the Wings maintain the defensive improvement from Tuesday night while generating significantly better offensive production?
Off the opening draw the early standout was the Dallas Stars 3rd jersey with the all black apparel with neon green accents.
The Wings had to form some new lines with the return of Darren Helm. Early on the top line remained Larkin between Bertuzzi and Brome. But the big man line featured Namestnikov between Mantha and Ryan. The bottom six featured Filppula with Helm and Hirose, and Glendening between Smith and Rasmussen. The defensive pairs remained unchanged.
The Helm unit showed some good forechecking early keeping the puck in the Dallas end, albeit without possession for the most part. Overall this game was off to a slow start again but each team at least managed a few shots this time through the first few minutes. Givani Smith showed his desire to remain with the big club throwing his weight around whenever he could and finishing his checks.
The first decent scoring opportunity went to the Stars with just under 13:00 remaining in the opening period. Caamano received a stretch pass and had a step on Larkin who was in pursuit. With Larkin attempting to hassle him he flipped a puck past Bernier but wide right. Larkin tumbled into Bernier as a result of his defensive effort, but Dallas could not collect the puck before Bernier returned to the net. But on the same series Detroit got hemmed in and it resulted in an eventual chance to Faksa on a wraparound attempt. While there was space available Faksa didn’t quite get the puck to the inside corner and instead sent it across the crease where an outstretched Bernier pad kept it out.
But as a result of the pressure the Red Wings took the first penalty of the game on a Brome hold. While Dallas were able to setup a couple of times they weren’t able to steer many pucks at the net and the Wings successfully killed off the penalty.
The Stars had the early shot advantage outshooting the Wings 6-3 at the halfway mark of the period. With 8:30 to play the Stars broke into the Wings zone on a busted play at the blue line by Nemeth in a mishap with the linesman. The result was a 3 on 1 on Hronek with Heiskanen making a quick passing play across the hash marks finishing with a one timer by Pavelski that beat Bernier to the short side before he could get across, 1-0 Stars.
Dallas continued to apply pressure after the goal. The Wings had yet to get a scoring chance and needed a break of some kind. Right after an offensive draw Djoos had a chance when he took a pass at the top of the zone and moved in with a ton of space in front of him. Djoos faked the shot getting Oettinger to drop, Djoos then shifted outside but couldn’t get this shot through traffic where a largely open net was available if the shot got through. While the puck didn’t get to the net, the Wings at least drew their first powerplay chance with 6:45 remaining after a Lindell hooking minor. The Wings powerplay continued to show what’s wrong with it, trying to dump and chase to gain the zone. The powerplay was short lived as Namestnikov took a hooking penalty behind the Dallas net on one of the said dump and chase sequences.
During the 4 on 4 sequence Larkin took a hit coming over the blue line and he wondered back to bench in slight distress. Just after that Pavelski took a hooking penalty just as the first Dallas penalty was set to expire. When the Wings returned to the powerplay, after the Namestnikov penalty expired, they got one good look on a quick passing play that went from high to low on the left side that was quickly moved across the slot to Mantha who couldn’t quite handle the hot pass.
In the last few minutes of play in the period, there wasn’t much eventful other than a rush or two from Dallas. Detroit struggled to get much going in the period from any of their lines, but got another chance to get things going when Radulov took a slashing penalty with 0:14 remaining in the period. The Wings carried the powerplay into the 2nd period. The Stars took an 11-5 shot advantage to the break.
On the carryover powerplay, the Wings could not get much of anything going unfortunately, having trouble even entering the zone. The powerplay woes continue, which wasn’t surprising.
But they got yet another chance as shortly after that Pavelski took an offensive zone tripping penalty. This was essentially a replay as the Wings struggled to gain the zone with possession. On one occasion they did, and after setting up all they delivered was a blocked Hronek shot from the point. The second unit, in what is becoming a story, continued to be the more effective unit, actually getting a pass or two through the high slot area, although with no shots to the net.
Dallas continued to control play after the penalties were over. Eventually a cycle play worked its way to the net where Cogliano outbattled DeKeyser on a loose puck to Bernier’s right and was able to knock the puck into the net, 2-0 Stars.
Now down by two, the Wings were going to have to find a way to start getting chances and the powerplay was clearly not the answer. But Detroit continued to struggle, with seemingly every breakout or entry being thwarted. The Wings finally managed a chance when a puck was turned over to Mantha near center ice, he broke in on a 2 on 1 down the left side, and fired a shot that was steered to the far corner. The puck worked its way to the point with Stetcher putting a puck through traffic at the net. The puck took a bounce off some bodies in front and found its way right on to Filppula’s stick who promptly put in the open net, 2-1.
The Wings had life now from a Dallas error, with the hope that this break could lead to more. But instead after a few uneventful minutes, Dallas came up the ice on an odd man rush. Gurianov came up the right side before cutting across the slot. He threw a puck towards the net as players converged there. Unfortunately for the Red Wings Mantha, while hustling back to make a play, lost an edge and crashed into Bernier taking the goaltender and the net out, but not before the puck crossed the goal line, 3-1 Stars.
Bowling for soup (and goals) pic.twitter.com/HycJxE4Yzl— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 29, 2021
The Wings were being outshot 19-9 at this point and probably didn’t even have 3 chances to the Stars 3 goals. A few minutes later Dallas handed Detroit another powerplay on a too many men penalty. Over the commercial break, Greiss took over in the net. Given the collision involving Mantha a few minutes earlier, it seemed Bernier wasn’t feeling quite right. For a change this Red Wings powerplay threw a few pucks at the net but continued to look generally lost on what they were supposed to be doing.
The period closed out 3-1 Stars with a 19-12 shot advantage to the Stars. The Wings needed to find something offensively that they hadn’t been able to yet this season.
The Wings could have gotten a chance early on the period with Mantha driving down the right side. But showing his lack of confidence of late he pulled up and tried to feather a pass across when he may have had a lane to the net with his big frame. Just after that Mantha picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and made a sneaky no-look pass to Namestnikov in front but he couldn’t get a stick on the puck.
Adding insult to injury, after several failed exit attempts, the Stars gathered a puck at the point to Oleksiak. The big defenseman fired a low wrister to the net that dipped under Greiss who was partially screened, 4-1 Stars.
With 15:00 to play the Wings were down by three and didn’t show any sign of being able to even attempt a comeback. The Stars took yet another penalty daring the Wings to show some life in this one. Looking just as lost through most of this powerplay, Detroit got setup eventually. From the right point Hronek decided to just float one towards the net. It bounced off of a stick or two before rebounding off Oettinger. The puck bounced around the left of the crease area, where Bertuzzi was able to knock it out of the air around the Dallas defenseman trying to retrieve it and into the net, 4-2.
That goal looked to spark at least a little something with the squad, as they mounted their first offensive pressure at even strength in quite awhile. They eventually drew another penalty, their sixth powerplay in a row. If the Wings could build off the Bertuzzi goal, they had a ticket back into this game late. This time the powerplay started to look a bit better moving the puck around the zone and actually getting setup for extended periods. Hirose seemed to be a big factor in that being moved onto the top unit, with Mantha being moved down to the second unit. But despite the better effort they couldn’t get many pucks through except for a Larkin attempt, but at least it was progress.
The Wings continued to build off of the powerplay, closing the shot gap to 22-17 while chasing the game. After finally getting some sustained pressure, DeKeyser received a pass at the blue line from Rasmussen. He sent a high wrist shot towards the net on the far side. But the shot ricocheted off of a Dallas player and completely changed direction and ended up finding a seam to the net on the short side, and suddenly it was 4-3.
But the momentum was stunted when moments after the goal, Glendening took a tripping penalty. Obviously with 6 straight powerplays to Detroit, Dallas was due. On that powerplay, the Wings did a good job of keeping Dallas from setting up. But late in the powerplay, the Stars got lucky and worked a puck to the left point to Heiskanen who send a low shot to the far side aiming for a redirect from Dellandrea who was crashing the far post. The young winger did get his stick on it and tipped it to the back of the net for his first career goal, 5-3 Stars.
The @DallasStars have scored 10 power-play goals in 2020-21, the franchise’s most-ever through four games in a season.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 29, 2021
Only one team has scored more through its first four games: NY Rangers in 1987-88 (11). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/Re93GumZa3
Another career first goal against the Red Wings, which maybe we all should have seen coming. After that, the Wings pulled early with just under 4:00 to play, but Dallas quickly grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and fired it into the open net, 6-3 Stars. In a game that was already long over, just for good measure Klingberg stepped across the blue line and used Staal as a screen at the top of the circle beating Greiss clean on one he should’ve had, 7-3 Stars.
The disaster continues, final score 7-3 Stars with shots 29-22 Stars.
Don’t let the final score fool you, that was an incredibly boring game that featured 10 goals. Dallas just happened to score on nearly every chance they got. Normally that would be considered a tough way to lose, but even if Dallas didn’t get some lucky breaks Detroit didn’t do nearly enough to warrant the 3 goals they got.
One of the main reason the Wings gave up the goals they did today, stick positioning. Despite being in position on most goals they failed to properly tie up Dallas sticks leading to the onslaught of pucks in their net.
Offensively, the Wings look like they don’t have a system for getting the puck out of their own zone when they get possession. They just sort of shovel it around the perimeter hoping to eventually chip it out but with no plan to then attack offensively.
The powerplay continued to be a sore spot, 1/7 total in the game. It’d be interesting to see what their actual offensive zone possession time and shots on the powerplay was because it couldn’t have been much.
In the plus column, Darren Helm looked to have some good legs on a few forecheck plays, especially for a player who has been held out early. Rasmussen also appeared to have an added emphasis on trying to be physical throwing his large frame around at times. This may have been a result of realizing the line he was playing on would have to be a smash and bang line.
I know it’s early but you have to wonder if after what they went through last season, motivation might be becoming a challenge for this team that knows they’re headed for a low finish even with their best efforts. Hopefully the return of players like Zadina and Fabbri at some point soon sparks something because the team just isn’t going to score much in any game with what they’re doing.