The Wings extended their win-streak to four games with a 4-1 win over the Stars in Dallas tonight. It was a better game than their last two, though they were still dominated for stretches of the game by the Stars.
Chris Osgood was without a doubt the #1 star of the game (though Zetterberg won the arena #1 star), making very good saves when needed and bailing his team out when they left him out to dry. The first period was the most extreme example of this, when for long stretches of play, Detroit seemed unable to clear the puck. The Stars took advantage of this by out-chancing the Wings 8-0 in the first and out-shooting them 13-8. The final shots total for the period is a little misleading: the Wings scored on just their third shot eight and half minutes in and play wasn't even close until mid-period.
To compound the problems created by their inability to clear their own zone, the Wings had trouble penetrating the Dallas zone effectively, meaning their chances were more along the periphery and much less dangerous. They capitalized on a rare chance at 8:34 when Marty Turco coughed up the puck to Henrik Zetterberg along the near boards. Hank sent it to the far side post, where Mikael Samuelsson got a nice slam-dunk of a goal. The goal followed a long stretch of play in which the Stars dominated Detroit and was a bit of a surprise.
The Wings followed up their goal by coming on a bit for the next couple shifts. The pace quickened and the teams began trading chances up and down the ice after mid-period. The Wings, still riding the momentum from their goal, controlled the puck a tad more but it amounted to nothing, as it had for the Stars earlier, when Dallas scored to tie it up at 16:49.
Kirk Maltby had absorbed a big hit by Niklas Hagman behind the net, knocking him to the ice but the tables turned right then as Hagman got a hold of the puck and sent it out front. Nick Lidstrom just missed preventing the pass but as it was, it got through to Jaroslav Svoboda, who one-timed it past Osgood. The Wings goalie had no chance to stop it and the game was tied at one.
Some good Wings pressure led to a power play late in the period but they accomplished little on it before the period ended.
The second period began with the Wings on the power play for 50 seconds. They got almost nothing on this power play, except for a chance by Pavel Datsyuk in the waning seconds. This was followed up by a breakaway by Stephane Robidas who barely took a shot and was stoned by Osgood.
Brett Hull joined the broadcast for a few minutes early in the third and was distracting enough that I didn't really digest the events on the ice until he went off the air. He did say he has no regrets about retiring, that he wishes he could still play but that he knows he can't. He also likes what he sees of the League so far and commented that it's hard for the refs to have real consistency.
Hull had me so distracted that I practically didn't see Henrik Zetterberg's goal at 4:14. Jason Williams had the puck along the far boards and centered it to Hank in the slot. Zetterberg redirected it past Turco and put the Wings ahead 2-1.
Mikael Samuelsson went to the box for a nasty but accidental high-stick on Brendan Morrow at 7:01, putting the Stars on the power play for four minutes. It was a very good kill for the Wings, who withstood Dallas pressure in their zone but also killed time by clearing it and controlling the puck deep in the Stars' zone. Kirk Maltby whiffed on a centering pass from Kris Draper towards the end of the penalty-kill though he would have almost certainly scored had he gotten much wood on it.
Robert Lang and Pavel Datsyuk got a nice 2-on-1 chance but Pavel's pass was blocked and it came to naught at about 14:00.
The rest of the period was pretty uneventful.
Jason Woolley went to the box early in the third and the resulting Dallas power play required Osgood to make some very good saves once again. During this penalty kill, Kirk Maltby took a stick in the face from Billy Guerin when he dove to the ice to take a swipe at the puck. The stick drew blood and may have knocked a tooth or two out but Maltby came back and finished the game strong.
Robidas went off for holding, a blatant penalty behind the net. The Wings put on a passing clinic and held the Stars in their zone for most of the power play, using the same unit the whole time and getting a couple good chances out of it, though they didn't score.
They did score at 8:34, however, increasing their lead to two goals when Tomas Holmstrom redirected a Brett Lebda redirection of Zetterberg's pass/shot from the top of the right circle. Lebda was way down low and got a stick on it but it hit Holmstrom's stick before going into the net so Tomas got the credit for the goal. 3-1 Wings.
After the Holmstrom goal, the Wings set about the business of shutting the Stars down. They did a good job of it, minimizing Dallas' chances and getting a few of their own.
Brendan Morrow went after Samuelsson at 15:07, looking for revenge on the latter's high stick earlier in the game. He ended up handing the Wings a power play. Detroit squandered it though, allowing a solid shorthanded chance and getting a penalty on the play at 16:32.
Fortunately, the Stars weren't too threatening, on either the 4-on-4 stretch or their power play.
They pulled Turco late in the period but it did them no good. Kirk Maltby blocked a shot at 19:07 and got a breakaway as a reward. He skated in on net and hardly took a shot, scoring an empty-netter at 19:15 to really put it away for the Wings.
Brendan Shanahan had his eight-game point streak snapped, having scored five goals and ten assists over that span.
Henrik Zetterberg had another very good game, notching two assists to go with his second period goal. He was also strong in the defensive zone, as usual.
Marty Turco still hasn't beaten the Wings and is 0-5-5 all-time against them now. Along similar lines, the Stars haven't beaten the Wings in nine games, dating back to January 16, 2002. The Wings are 4-0-4-0 in that span (four ties).
Next up, the Wings have Columbus on New Year's Eve. The puck drops at 7:00 ET.
Shanahan - Datsyuk - Holmstrom
Williams - Zetterberg - Samuelsson
Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Holmstrom
Cleary - Datsyuk - Shanahan
Williams - Zetterberg - Samuelsson
Samuelsson - Lang - Holmstrom
Holmstrom - Lang - Draper
Shanahan - Datsyuk - Holmstrom
Maltby - Mowers - Franzen
Lidstrom - Woolley
Lilja - Lidstrom
Lidstrom - Chelios
Lilja - Schneider
Lilja - Lebda
Schneider - Chelios
Lebda - Schneider
Woolley - Schneider