The Red Wings pulled off a victory in one of the most hard fought games they have played all season. With two goal margins against them on two occasions, Detroit fought back to cover the spread forcing overtime and winning on a Niklas Kronwall game winner to defeat the Dallas Stars 7-6 at American Airlines Center Saturday night.
The Red Wings came into the lone star state looking to continue having strong finishes after dispatching the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday. They played without the contributions of Kyle Quincey who suffered a lower body injury against Chicago.
Detroit is fortunate not to lose more against their former Central Division rivals as the Stars are without forwards Tyler Seguin and former Red Wing Patrick Eaves. With Dallas in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, winning the game on home ice was important to stay in playoff contention.
Detroit had the heat on high as they came into the Dallas end firing shots on Kari Lehtonen with Gustav Nyquist trying to be the first to get the Red Wings on the board. Jonathan Ericsson wanted something different after a scuffle with Dallas captain Jamie Benn taking a fight to him until he lost his balance and fell ending the bout prematurely. By that point, the Red Wings were outshooting the Stars 8-1
The Stars were showing signs of improvement trying to be aggressive but got nothing in return from Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. Benn got his revenge from the earlier fight and scored on the rebound from Howard to gain his 23rd of the season. The captain hunted for a second goal nearly getting one that pinged off the post.
Detroit scrambled back to regain possession and pressured Lehtonen. On a great pass from Riley Sheahan, it set up Nyquist deep in the slot to fire past the right pad of the Stars goaltender tying the game at one giving Nyquist his 21st. The period ended with the Stars taking the lead on shots to the net but both teams were in their zones to score further.
Things didn’t settle down for the Stars as their opportunities grew on shots to the net putting on great scoring chances but nothing behind the Detroit net. After a couple of big saves by Howard, the Red Wings defense countered possession at the neutral zone where Pavel Datsyuk zipped towards Lehtonen scoring on a shot top shelf for his 18th before the middle of regulation.
Just when it looked like the Red Wings had a hand on the game, it quickly slipped away from them. With five minutes left in the second period, the Stars tied the game on Trevor Daley’s angled shot bouncing off Howard’s body and into the net giving him his 16th. The Stars got the lead back on Cody Eakin’s lucky shot through traffic that made it through the five hole giving him 12 goals this year.
Detroit was breaking down fast with three minutes left and the Stars on fire. Dallas took a two-goal lead with Erik Cole battling the puck in the Detroit crease for his 17th. Dallas took 15 shots in the period to the Red Wings seven, but Detroit isn’t the type to go out without making a comeback.
At the start of the third period, the Red Wings made their charge getting shots early on the Dallas net while the support worked on the coverage. Jakub Kindl scored on a great screen from Drew Miller to get his third goal of the season. Kindl got the Red Wings evened up after Tomas Tatar skated hard into the net ahead of the Dallas defense finding Kindl across to shoot on a open net for his second goal in 45 seconds. “Tats got open there and thought he was going to bury it and it ended up with me and I had an open net,” said Kindl to reporters.
The Stars struck back after allowing a pair where Jordie Benn sent a one timer that deflected off Curtis McKenzie beating Howard. Both teams traded power plays with the Stars getting the upper hand on their man advantage where a play in front of Howard ended with Shawn Horcoff scoring on a soft-handed shot from the glove side for his eighth and returning Dallas to their large lead. Howard was taken out of the crease for the night and replaced by Jonas Gustavsson to help Detroit pull off a win.
Detroit was not done fighting for the win and made their point on a Kronwall drive from the far end that went off the skate of Justin Abdelkader while on the power play for his 13th. Four minutes were left in the game and Dallas still leading the game by one. The Red Wings got desperate and did everything from fighting through the Dallas defense to trying to wrap the puck around the net. Lehtonen was having none of it despite Detroit going for the sixth man with 2:14 left.
The Red Wings got it done with 1:48 remaining to play using all their energy battling the puck at the crease where a shot from the back went in for Datsyuk’s second of the night. The play went against the Stars as Abdelkader interfered with the goaltender that usually would make the goal disallowed. It was a tie game and six goals each as each took their last chances at the net only to head into overtime.
With the Red Wings coming back the way they did it only meant the pressure was all on Dallas to make it happen before they did. Unfortunately for them 36 seconds went by where Kronwall scored the game winner ending it with a backhander into traffic for the game winner. It was his first goal since playing the Jets Feb. 14.
“(Darren) Helm has been a great player holding on to it stayed patient, Pav (Datsyuk) drove the net and opened a lane and tried to get it in the net and luckily it went in,” said Kronwall who notched his seventh goal for the Red Wings. The game went to Gustavsson who after subbing for just one period earned the victory making just a pair of saves for the deciding win.
“We weren’t like I like us to be but we found a way to win the game and dug our way out of a bad spot,” said Coach Mike Babcock. It was the largest amount of goals that Detroit has been apart of all season lone with 13 going into the record books.
“It was a crazy game,” said Kindl about the score. “It doesn’t happen very often you have to score seven goals to win a game but we just kept digging and digging and just find a way to win.” Although it was a messy game, the Red Wings will have to figure a way to play stronger on the defense when they move into California for a three game sweep.