DALLAS – The power of brotherly love was almost enough to propel the Dallas Stars to victory, but not quite.
With his older brother Jordie making his NHL debut, Jamie Benn put together an outstanding effort, scoring a goal and two assists, but thanks to two goals from Jiri Hudler and three assists from Henrik Zetterberg lifted the Detroit Red Wings to a wild 5-4 victory over the Stars at the American Airlines Center Tuesday night.
Coming one game after a stellar complete-game effort helped the Stars shut down the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins 4-2 on New Year’s Eve but also missing three of their top six defensemen, Dallas suffered some unfortunate defensive breakdowns in allowing five goals (or more) for the 10th time this season - two of them against Detroit.
The loss drops the Stars to 2-4-0 in their last six contests, and now with a 21-16-1 record on the season, Dallas sits in 10th place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference standings, two points back of eighth-place Colorado.
“I think it’s not just one game. You can’t just beat the Bruins and be happy with it, we got to put a full 60 minutes in against the top teams and string a few wins together,” said Benn, whose third three-point night of the season leaves him with a team-leading 37 points on the season. “A bit of a tough game there. When you have breakdowns in the D zone and they capitalize, it’s never good, but I thought we had some parts of our game that were good, and some that were not good.”
“I just thought we made a couple of lazy mistakes and we made a couple structural mistakes that we shouldn’t make,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “They’re the team that can make you pay pretty quickly as you see. I thought our compete level was up but you can’t make mistakes like that against this club.”
In this one, the Stars just couldn’t stop the Red Wing forward line of Hudler, Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, who combined for all three of Detroit first-period goals that established a 3-1 Red Wing lead that the Stars just couldn’t overcome, despite battling to within one goal on four different occasions.
In addition to the Benn family’s big night, Jamie’s linemates also had an impressive showing, as Michael Ryder scored two goals and an assist while Loui Eriksson added a goal and an assist. Overall, that line accounted for all four Dallas goals.
Clearly, Jamie was energized by having his brother in the lineup.
“I was pretty excited for this game, me and him,” said Jamie, who flew his parents in from British Columbia for the game. “It was pretty special for both of us and pretty cool to play together.”
“I thought it was a real good game,” Gulutzan said of the younger Benn. “I made a conscious effort there to get 21 minutes tonight. He was going and we need to find more ice for him. In fact, we should have had a little more ice for Loui and Rydes tonight too.”
As for Jamie’s brother Jordie, 24, was recalled from AHL Texas on Monday and played well with regular Stars defensemen Stephane Robidas (lower body), Sheldon Souray (ankle) and Philip Larsen (upper body) missing due to injuries.
“That was a blast, a dream come true,” said Jordie, who also earned his first NHL point with an assist on Eriksson’s first period goal. “Obviously, you want to win, but I got to play in the NHL with my brother, so that was awesome. You don’t really think about (adding offense) going into the game, you just want to keep it simple because it’s your first game, but it’s always good to contribute. It was awesome.”
“I think he did good,” Jamie said of his brother, whom he last played with in junior hockey back in 2006-07 with the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies. “He’s a pretty good player, he knows the game pretty well, and I think he and (partner Mark Fistric) did a pretty good job back there.”
And while goaltender Kari Lehtonen surrendered five goals on 31 shots in his third consecutive start since returning from a 12-game groin injury-induced absence, he still made a number of big saves that kept the Stars in the game.
“His performance I thought was fine,” Gulutzan said of Lehtonen. “Even that one that went from the side of the net went off our defenseman’s skate. What do you do? He made some huge saves in the first. He’s still trying to reach for his stick on one. Second goal, good shot. We just made too many mistakes. Our D were backing off the line too much and we had some lazy mistakes. If you’re going to be lazy, it’s going to cost you.”
Dallas had an opportunity to jump on top right off the bat, going on the power play just 15 seconds into the opening period when Todd Bertuzzi entered the penalty box for holding the stick. The Stars’ power play unit, which went 2-for-6 Saturday against the Bruins, had three shots on goal and buzzed around Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard for the whole two minutes, but could not cash in. That would end up being the only penalty called in the game.
The Red Wings had the game’s first glorious scoring chance, as Hudler found himself alone in front of Lehtonen at 5:07, but the Finnish netminder made a huge sliding glove save.
Detroit then seized the 1-0 lead on Filppula’s 13th goal of the season at 8:02. First, Lehtonen stopped Ian White’s blast from the right point, but the rebound shot out to the left circle, where Zetterberg faked a one-timer slap shot but instead slid a nifty pass over to a wide open Filppula at the right side of the crease for an open net tap-in.
Lehtonen came up with another big save to keep it a one-goal game at 12:37, when he snagged Drew Miller’s wrist shot from the slot with his glove.
The Red Wings kept swarming the Dallas zone and after receiving a cross-ice pass from Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen drilled a one-timer from the left face-off circle, but Lehtonen came up with a spectacular sliding pad save at 14:07.
Detroit had another chance at 16:45 when Filppula stripped Adam Pardy of the puck at the Red Wing blue line and sped into the Dallas zone on a 2-on-1. After exchanging passes with Hudler, Filppula’s one-timer from the left side of the crease was denied by a sliding pad stop from Lehtonen.
Just 21 seconds later, the Red Wings went ahead 2-0 when Zetterberg’s one-timer from the left circle deflected off Hudler’s skate in the crease and past Lehtonen. A brief video review confirmed Hudler did not utilize a ‘distinct kicking motion’ to re-direct the puck in at 17:06.
Dallas answered just 50 seconds after that when Eriksson notched his 14th goal of the season. After Howard stopped his wrist shot from the left face-off circle, Eriksson skated in, retrieved his own rebound, circled the Detroit net, curled out through the right circle and into the slot before launching a scorching wrist shot past a screened Howard’s glove.
The Red Wings snuffed out any momentum the Stars might have built with that goal when Hudler connected again with 1:00 remaining in the period. On the rush into the Dallas zone, Filppula fed a pass from the left circle into the slot, where Hudler fired a one-timer through Lehtonen’s pads and in for his 11th of the year.
Dallas came out hungry in the second period, pulling to within 3-2 just 1:04 in when Jamie Benn collected his 10th goal of the season on a somewhat innocent-looking play. After retrieving a dump-in behind the Detroit net, Benn stepped out just above the goal line on the right side of the crease and popped a quick wrist shot off Howard’s pad and in.
Once again, though, the Red Wings answered quickly, as their fourth line struck for a big goal at 3:51 on Cory Emmerton’s fourth of the year. Controlling the puck behind the Dallas net, Emmerton backed into the left corner and flung the puck at the crease, where it ricocheted off Lehtonen’s pad and dropped inside the left post.
“Those are so big,” captain Brenden Morrow said of the Red Wings’ quick-answer goals. “They did it to us two or three times tonight. You feel like you’ve got momentum and you tilt the ice in your favor and then they come back quick and get one. Those ones are always a little deflating.”
The Stars climbed back to within one again at 7:25, when Ryder picked up his first of the night. After receiving a handoff from Jamie Benn at the left point, Ryder curled down into the left circle and unleashed a lethal wrist shot that squeezed through Howard.
Dallas nearly tied it up at 9:15 when Benn’s pass from the high slot found Adam Burish alone to the left of the crease for a one-timer, but his shot hit the outside of the left post.
The Red Wings restored their two-goal lead again at 11:46 on Franzen’s 16th of the season. After Pavel Datsyuk stripped Jamie Benn of the puck behind the Dallas net, he dished out to Franzen in the left face-off circle for a seeing-eye one-timer that beat Lehtonen over the glove and painted the upper left corner.
With 2:03 left in the period, the Stars came oh-so-close to pulling back to within one when Pardy’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle glanced off Red Wing defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom’s leg and clanked off the right goalpost before bouncing out the other side of the crease.
Both clubs’ defensive units seemed to tighten up in the final period, although Lehtonen did have to make a big save with 7:48 remaining in regulation when he denied Zetterberg’s point-blank wrist from the slot.
Ryder pulled the Stars to within one yet again at 14:07 with his second goal of the night, as he pulled a loose puck out of several skates in the Detroit zone, cut across the high slot into the right circle and launched another laser beam of a wrist shot over Howard’s glove for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
The Stars continued to press for the equalizer and pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker with 1:13 left, but had a difficult time establishing control in the Detroit zone.
Alex Goligoski had a prime chance, though, with 38 seconds left, when Jamie Benn fed a pass from the right circle back to the point, but Goligoski’s blazing one-timer was turned aside by Howard.
“I think it worked out pretty good, I got the puck back and he got a pretty good shot off there, but it didn’t go in,” Benn said of the play. “It was tough to lose this one.”
“We were right in it to the end, pull the goalie, Goose knocking pucks out of the air and I think our fight and resolve was pretty good,” said Morrow. “We battled right to the final buzzer.”
The Stars, completing a stretch in which they’ve played five of six game at home, jet out for a one-game jaunt over to Nashville to face the Predators (7:00 pm start, FSSW+), who currently sit seventh in the West, three points up on Dallas.
- Ryder, who now has eight goals in the last eight games, topped the squad with four shots on goal.
- Benn, with three points, now has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the last nine games. He also had three shots on goal, went a stellar 14-8 on face-offs, and logged 21:01 of ice time, his second-highest total of the season.
- Eriksson’s two points leave him with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last nine outings.
- Goligoski now has three assists in the last four games after recording just one point (a goal) in his previous 11 games played. He also led the Stars with five blocked shots.
- Defenseman Trevor Daley’s assist leaves him with six points (one goal, five assists) in the last five games. Once again, he led the Stars in ice time, logging a game-high 25:12.
- Dallas outhit Detroit 29-19, led by Steve Ott’s game-high nine.
- The Stars won the face-off battle by a considerable margin, 34-23. Besides Benn’s 14-8 performance, Vernon Fiddler went 10-2.
- Linesman Steve Miller (not the musician) left the game late in the first period after falling and hitting the back of his head on the ice and suffering ‘concussion-like symptoms.’ He did not return and the two referees took on some of his linesman duties.
- Spotted in the American Airlines Center crowd were members of the Penn State football team (who were still in town after competing in the Ticket City Bowl at the Cotton Bowl on Monday), Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, and former Stars icons Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, as well as new Stars owner Tom Gaglardi.
Wrist shot -