The Detroit Red Wings may not have the most points in the league, or even the Western Conference, but it's hard to find a better team in the NHL right now.
Just ask the Dallas Stars.
Detroit burst out of the gate quickly, withstood a second period Dallas spark, and wound up cruising to a 6-1 win against the overmatched Stars on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The surging Red Wings won for the fifth straight time -- and eighth time in their last 10 games overall -- to improve to 15-3-2 at home.
"It's tough to figure out what it is, but they just skate us into the ground and make us look like we are standing still," center Mike Modano said. "We have been building the last couple weeks and we knew tonight would be tough, but we just dug ourselves too big a hole."
Marian Hossa, Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist each for the Red Wings, who avenged a loss to the Stars in mid-December. Hossa set the tone by scoring just four minutes into the game, while goalie Chris Osgood made 22 saves to slam the door shut on Dallas.
Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom also scored for the Red Wings.
Loui Eriksson scored for Dallas, which has lost two of three following a 5-1-1 stretch, while Marty Turco surrendered four goals on 18 shots in two periods of action before being lifted at the start of the third period for backup Tobias Stephan.
Stephan finished with 13 saves after allowing two goals.
"There's not a lot to dissect, we just have to be better," Turco said. "This was not what we were looking for."
Down by a pair early in the second period, the Stars began to take the territorial edge away while the Red Wings began to scramble. But for every shot put on net, Osgood was able to either steer it aside and out of harms way, or gobble the puck in for a faceoff.
After the seven-minute spurt, Detroit took over again, scoring two times in less than five minutes to take a 4-0 lead after two periods.
How good are the Red Wings at this point of the season? Eriksson's goal 38 seconds into the third period that made it 4-1 snapped Detroit's home shutout sequence at 179 minutes, 24 seconds. Ty Conklin, who was on the bench, accumulated almost 139 minutes of that stretch.
"This wasn't the way I envisioned this game going," coach Dave Tippett said. "Our execution was poor. These were two available points, and we weren't even close. Our group didn't play well, from the goaltender on out."
Eriksson gave the Stars some hope with his team-leading 21st of the year when he deflected Trevor Daley's shot from along the left boards. But consecutive penalties by Steve Ott and James Neal, then another by Stephane Robidas, erased any chance of gaining momentum, and ultimately led to Datsyuk's power-play goal at 5:07 that made it 5-1.
Ott, Neal and Robidas combined for eight of the nine minor penalties that Dallas incurred in the contest.
"I just have to better," Robidas said. "I had a bad game and I had three bad penalties. Then they scored on two of them, and it's not a good feeling. I need to be smarter and show some more discipline."
Zetterberg capped the scoring with nine minutes left in regulation with a goal when both teams were down a man.
"We had guys in the box I don't know how many times," Tippett said. "There just weren't a lot of positives tonight."
Up 2-0 after the first 20 minutes, the Red Wings increased their advantage to 3-0 on Maltby's third goal of the season, and first in 20 games. After Turco stopped Tomas Kopecky's slap shot from the outer edge of the left circle, Maltby swatted in a rolling puck rebound from the right circle with 7:33 left in the second period.
Holmstrom made it 4-0 with his 12th of the year 4:37 later while the Red Wings were on the power play. After corralling a loose puck after Hossa got away with an interference penalty, Holmstrom ripped a slap shot with the puck on its edge that eventually squirted through Turco's left arm and body and into the net.
"I have to find and control pucks better," Turco said. "I can't have pucks go through me like that. We are not doing enough things positive and applying pressure the way we have to, and that needs to be changed soon."
Hossa put the Red Wings up 1-0 just four minutes into the game by scoring his team-leading 19th of the season. After the Red Wings won a faceoff in the right circle, Hossa sent a knuckler from the right boards 7-feet from the blue line that handcuffed Turco.
Cleary upped the margin to 2-0 with his seventh goal at 11:28 of the first. With Cleary standing right in front of the net, Niklas Kronwall's slap shot was blocked by the screened and interfered with Turco before Cleary lunged and banged home the rebound while falling down right on top of the Dallas netminder.
"We have to learn from tonight and we all know we can be better, that's the bottom line," Robidas said. "We have to be stronger mentally, and this is a big wakeup call for us."
Dallas will conclude its four-game road trip on Saturday night when they travel to the desert to take on the Phoenix Coyotes (8 p.m. FSN). It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams, with the Stars boasting a 2-1 mark.
Coming into Thursday's action, the Coyotes held the eight and final playoff slot in the Western Conference with 43 points.
"We need to get some sharpness to our game and some confidence," Modano said.
--Turco is now two games shy of tying Cesare Maniago for the most games played by a goaltender in franchise history. Maniago appeared in 420 contests for the Minnesota North Stars from 1967-76.
--The Stars and Red Wings will meet three times during the month of January, including Monday night at American Airlines Center.
--Dallas has allowed five or more goals 14 times this season.
--Coming in with the best power-play unit in the league, the Red Wings converted on two of their nine man-advantage chances.
--The Stars dropped to 8-11-2 on the road.
--Stephan last appeared on Dec. 13 against Nashville.
--The Stars were outshot 33-23, snapping a six-game streak in which they had outshot their opponent in six consecutive games.
1 - 0 DET
2 - 0 DET
3 - 0 DET
4 - 0 DET
4 - 1 DET
5 - 1 DET
6 - 1 DET
Interference - Goalkeeper