The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/18/12 at 02:21 AM ET
Neither the Detroit Red Wings nor the Dallas Stars played their sharpest games in , but that slight lack of energy benefited a Stars team which chose to employ a defensive slough-fest and attempts to hit anything that moved wearing red and white to their advantage, to the point that Tuesday night’s game was as much a rodeo as it was hockey.
With the Wings’ special teams continuing to struggle on the road (no goals on 3 attempts, 1 Stars goal given up on 2 power plays), it took the Wings a longtime to get going, but after nearly fifty minutes of sparse shots and no traffic on Richard Bachman, it was indeed a power play that changed the game’s tone, and this time around, the Wings played rope-a-dope hockey to near perfection.
The Wings had a rough go in the first period, in no small part due to the fact that they had an easy time in terms of disposing the Sabres and earning their franchise-best 15th straight win on Monday night. They didn’t seem prepared for Mark Fistric, Steve Ott or the rest of the Stars’ hit-to-hurt intensity or stifling, trap-happy defense.
Despite Tomas Holmstrom’s lovely slap shot goal—from all of 12 feet in front of the net—via a smart takeaway from Jan Mursak and a pass that went through Justin Abdelkader’s legs, the Stars had a relatively easy time of tying the game up, converting an Ian White penalty into a tip-down goal by Brenden Morrow’s ankle as he jumped in front of Conklin, and six minutes after Morrow scored, the Stars roared out to a 2-1 lead thanks to a Loui Eriksson goal which Conklin had no chance on because he never saw Sheldon Souray’s point shot, and Loui Eriksson jammed home the rebound as he jostled for position with Nicklas Lidstrom (and as Eriksson’s stick broke), Adam Burish, Morrow and Ian White. Sixteen-and-a-half minutes into the game, the Stars looked unbeatable—and the Wings looked beaten up.
Jiri Hudler got dirtily smoked by Mark Fistric with a low hip check, after Hudler had been taken out of the play, and he headed to the bench stung, leaving the ice with Piet Van Zant after getting what looked like a TSA pat-down and then some.
The Wings didn’t come out on fire in the second period, but they got an earned lucky break. When Hudler returned to the ice, he tried to give the puck back to Valtteri Filppula on a give-and-go play, and instead of hitting Filppula’s tape, he hit the back of Alex Goligoski’s leg, and the puck fluttered over Bachman’s shoulder 1:43 into the 2nd period.
From that point until the Wings were sent to the power play when Fistric was finally sent to the box for interference, the Wings contently engaged in a somewhat passive grinding game, with White and Holmstrom firing shots on Bachman as the Wings’ third and fourth lines (Mursak, Abdelkader and Holmstrom in particular and Danny Cleary, Darren Helm and Drew Miller as well) and third defensive pair (Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Commodore) possibly playing the best hockey of anyone not named Pavel Datsyuk, and when the Stars did cycle and sweep into the Wings’ zone playing like the Chicago Blackhawks at times, Conklin was solid enough to do the job.
After the power play, however, the Wings found life, and all four lines and all six defensemen peppered Bachman and the Stars with shots and pressed, pressured and roared up ice and into the zone via puck possession hockey combined with a relentless forecheck. The Wings couldn’t convert, but over the last ten minutes of play, the Wings absolutely dominated, and you could almost sense that the Wings would break through at some point, even if the Stars did prevail and earn what they’d hoped to earn minus Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro—a point. Given that the Wings out-shot Dallas 11-8 and probably out-chanced them 10-2, kudos to Dallas and Bachman there.
Conklin had to make two remarkable saves, one at the end of the 2nd period and one at the end of the 3rd, to keep the Wings in it, and just as he did in Chicago, he provided a slightly mentally and physically tired Wings team that is very, very evidently just not as confident in its ability to score away from the Joe as it is at home the kind of goaltending it needs to earn a point.
In overtime, the Stars tightened up and steadied themselves in a big way, grinding it out and making safe, steady plays as they re-committed themselves to defense and more or less played a four-man-back trap, and when you add in too much back-passing by the Wings, Stephane Robidas’ hook of Johan Franzen with all of 17 seconds left—as Franzen deked and dangled toward a point-blank attempt on Bachman—ensured that the Stars had the chance to earn two points via a shootout…And that 3-for-35 Wings power play had something to do with it, too.
With the onus on Detroit as the shoot-first team per Dallas’s preference, and the very chippy ice in Dallas only slightly helped by a dry scrape, I sure as hell worried about bad bounces.
Pavel Datsyuk didn’t have to worry about that as he beat Bachman, but he hit the crossbar instead.
Loui Eriksson couldn’t quite beat Conklin as his leg save and the post helped keep the puck out.
Jiri Hudler went far wide deked and pulled the Henrik Zetterberg/Peter Forsberg/Kent Nilsson Forsberg deke after a slick kick fake.
Conklin stood his ground and covered everything low as MichaelRyder chugged up the gut and tried to flick it up high—and hit Conklin’s shoulder.
Todd Bertuzzi went in wide right side as well but Bachman blockered his shot away.
And Trevor Daley deked and dangled but as Ty Conklin forced him wide, the Wings earned an ugly, ugly point in a beautiful manner.
As a subjective Wings fan, the only thing better than the shootout win would have been seeing somebody from Detroit let Fistric know that his supposed 10-hit performance isn’t kosher, but two points are always the best revenge, especially when they’re served on the stick of the player who sucked it up, shook off his sore ribs and helped the Wings win the game.
Here are some highlights via the Dallas feed, via Paul:
Update: Here’s the full shootout, with the Stars’ broadcasters narrating it:
32-27 Detroit. The Wings were out-shot 11-5 in the 1st period, out-shot Dallas 12-5 in the 2nd period, out-shot Dallas 11-8 in the 3rd period and out-shot Dallas 4-3 in overtime.
The Wings went 0 for 3 in 4:16 of PP time; the Stars went 1 for 2 in all of 45 seconds of PP time.
Ty Conklin stopped 25 of 27 for Detroit; Richard Bachman stopped 30 of 32 for Dallas.
The 3 stars, per the Dallas Morning News’s Mike Heika, were Loui Eriksson, Richard Bachman and Jiri Hudler.
The Wings’ goals: Holmstrom (8) from Abdelkader (7) and Mursak (1);
Hudler (13) from Filppula (23) and Zetterberg (25).
Faceoffs 34-27 Dallas (Detroit won 44%);
Blocked shots 22-10 Dallas;
Missed shots 18-13 Detroit—so the Wings fired 32 shots on Bachman and 40 shots wide or into Stars players for a total of 72 shot attempts, while the Stars had 50;
Hits 29-9 if you believe the Stars’ stat crew, who gave Mark Fistric 10 hits and Stephane Robidas 5;
Giveaways 15-4 Dallas (really?);
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 16-and-10 (62%); Zetterberg went 4-and-9 (31%); Helm went 5-and-6 (45%); Abdelkader went 2-and-2 (50%); Filppula went 0-for-4; Miller went 0-for-3.
Shots: White led the team with 7 shots; Filppula and Holmstrom had 4; Datsyuk and Stuart had 3; Mursak, Helm, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 2; Commodore, Hudler and Zetterberg had 1.
Blocked attempts: Both Commodore and Franzen had 4 attempts blocked; Zetterberg and Helm had 3 attempts blocked; Lidstrom had 2 attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Cleary, Stuart, Hudler, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: White missed the net 3 times; Zetterberg, Helm and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Miller, Stuart, Hudler, Mursak, Filppula, Ericsson and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader and Datsyuk were credited for 2 hits; Lidstrom, White, Miller, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom were credited with 1.
Giveaways: Cleary, Hudler, Zetterberg and Conklin had giveaways.
Takeaways: Helm had 2 takeaways; Commodore, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Filppula and Ericsson had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Stuart blocked 4 shots; Cleary blocked 2; Abdelkader, Miller, Commodore and Kronwall blocked 1.
Penalties taken: The Wings took a too-many men bench minor and White was tagged for a minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +5. Lidstrom, White and Bertuzzi finished at -1; Stuart, Hudler, Mursak, Zetterberg, Filppula and Ericsson finished at +1; Kronwall finished at +2.
Points: Hudler and Holmstrom had goals; Abdelkader, Mursak, Zetterberg and Filppula had assists.
Ice time: White led the team with 27:06 played; Kronwall played 25:51; Stuart played 24:04;
Lidstrom played 23:11; Datsyuk played 20:27; Franzen played 20:12;
Bertuzzi played 20:04; Zetterberg played 19:48; Filppula played 19:20;
Hudler played 19:05; Ericsson played 15:54; Cleary played 14:41;
Helm played 13:26; Abdelkader played 12:33; Miller played 11:17;
Commodore played 10:58; Holmstrom played 10:08; Mursak played 8:03.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.