Decimated, yet surging Wings travel to play Stars
Saturday, 12.19.2009 / 1:00 PM
NHL.comRED WINGS (18-11-5) at STARS (14-9-11)
Detroit 7-2-1; Dallas 3-3-4
This is the third of four meetings between the clubs this season. They have split so far in games at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, with Dallas winning 3-1 on Nov. 18 and Detroit taking a 4-1 decision on Nov. 30. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was in net for both games while Alex Auld got the win in the first game for Dallas and Marty Turco took the loss in the second one.
The Red Wings will try to build on a four-game winning streak without the services of Henrik Zetterberg, who separated his shoulder during Thursday's 3-0 win over Tampa Bay thanks to a crushing hit from fellow Swede Mattias Ohlund. He'll be out two weeks. Meanwhile, the regulation-is-not-enough-time Stars are going to try to snap a three-game skid and win in 60 minutes for the first time in 16 days.
The list of injured players is incredible, and it's growing: Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary, Darren Helm, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula and now Zetterberg.
This kind of rash of injuries is almost mind-boggling, yet somehow Mike Babcock's team keeps winning. How? Well, Howard has played well, proving he's not only an NHL goalie but perhaps even a No. 1. He picked up his first NHL shutout Thursday. Howard has won three in a row and four of his last five starts to improve to 11-6-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Guys like Patrick Eaves, Kris Newbury, Drew Miller and Derek Meech have scored during this four-game winning streak. Todd Bertuzzi has also gotten hot with five goals in the last four games. It's remarkable, truly remarkable.
"The important thing is, stick with your system," captain Nicklas Lidstrom told the Detroit Free Press in regards to overcoming all the injuries. "Playing your structure and not trying too much. … And you have to kind of grind it out some nights."
So how does a team with just three wins in its last 11 games -- only one in regulation -- stay afloat in the standings? Meet the Dallas Stars, the king of the one-point loss. The Stars lead the NHL with 11 losses in overtime or the shootout and 15 games decided in such fashions. They are 3-4-4 in their last 11 games, yet they entered Friday's action only two points out of a playoff spot and in ninth place in the Western Conference.
The thing is, though, you know and they know they will have to improve in order to make the playoffs. They scored five goals Thursday night in Atlanta, including one off of Loui Eriksson
's face shield, but it wasn't enough as Rich Peverley scored 76 seconds into overtime to give the Thrashers the extra point. The Stars even outshot the Thrashers, 33-15, through two periods. But they allowed three power-play goals and for the second straight game gave up a shorthanded tally as well.
"We have to address our consistency and start playing like a team," defenseman Stephane Robidas
said after Thursday's OT loss.
For the Red Wings, it's been all about Howard lately, but Eaves has goals in the last two games and Miller has four points on two goals and two assists over the last three games. … For the Stars, Eriksson has goals in each of the last two games and points in the last five, totaling two goals and five assists. Robidas had three points in Thursday's loss and has already matched his career high with nine goals, including a team-best seven on the power play.
The Wings' list is notable, including Zetterberg (separated shoulder), Cleary (separated shoulder), Franzen (torn ACL), Kronwall (sprained knee), Filppula (broken wrist), Williams (fractured fibula), Ericsson (bone bruise), Helm (sprained wrist) and Andreas Lilja (post concussion). … The Stars placed defenseman Trevor Daley
on IR Friday with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Mark Fistric
left Thursday's game with an upper body injury.
In three career appearances against the Stars, Howard has given up five goals on 93 shots, but he's only 1-2. Before splitting his starts against the Stars this season, Howard lost a 1-0 decision to Dallas on Feb. 17, 2008. On the other hand, Chris Osgood is 28-11-4 in 44 career appearances against Dallas.
"I got a lot of friends on that team," Tampa Bay's Ohlund told the Detroit Free Press after Thursday's game, when he injured Zetterberg with a hard hit in the first period. "I feel awful. I had no intention of hurting anybody out there."