DETROIT -- It was a sure game-tying goal, just waiting for the Dallas Stars to bury.
Jamie Benn tried to do just that by lifting a shot during a scramble in front of the Detroit Red Wings' goal midway through the third period on Saturday night, but Ian White had other plans.
The Detroit defenseman dove toward the puck and made the save with his face -- his right cheek, to be exact -- to keep the Red Wings up by a goal. Less than a minute later, Darren Helm scored his second goal of the season off a great feed by Jiri Hudler, Brad Stuart added another and the Red Wings beat the Stars 5-2 at Joe Louis Arena. It's Detroit's fourth straight win after a six-game skid.
"Whitey's a tough guy and I appreciate it," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard told NHL.com. "(Backup goaltender Ty Conklin) told me (about it) when I came over to the bench for a TV timeout. I haven't seen it, so I'll have to take a look at it."
White went straight to the locker room for stitches and didn't return, but scored a goal in the second period to go with goals by Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Stuart and Helm for the suddenly-hot Red Wings (9-5-1). White wasn't available for comment because he needed more work done at the hospital.
Though he technically wasn't credited with a blocked shot, the fact he made the save like that didn't surprise his teammates or coaches.
"He's been blocking shots all season," said Howard, who picked up his eighth win and stopped 25 of 27 shots. "He does whatever it takes to win."
Wings coach Mike Babcock agreed.
"I haven't seen (a replay) yet, but obviously you like to see guys selling out," he said. "I don't like to see guys getting hit in the face, but it's a great message to his teammates. He competes every night, this guy."
All of Detroit's defensemen have been competing hard through the first 15 games. Only recently, though, have the ones not named Nicklas Lidstrom contributed offensively. Three Wings blueliners scored in this game, and Detroit's defensemen have now combined to score eight of the 18 goals during the winning streak.
"The forwards are doing a real good job of getting in front of their goalies and making it hard," said Stuart, who added an assist for his first two points. "When they don't see the puck, they're not going to stop it. We've got guys who are good at getting in front of the net and we got away from that a little bit. We're getting back to it and it's paying off for us."
Franzen also added an assist for a two-point game, while forward Valtteri Filppula continued his recent hot streak by chipping in a pair of helpers -- his fifth and sixth points in the last four games.
Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow scored for the Stars (11-5-0), who head home after a rough weekend that saw them lose games in Pittsburgh and Detroit on consecutive nights -- as well as puck-moving defenseman Alex Goligoski on Friday night due to a broken thumb. Backup goalie Andrew Raycroft made 35 saves but saw his career record against Detroit dip to 5-3-0.
"I thought for the most part (Raycroft) was OK tonight (but) we never gave him a chance," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "There was just far too much rubber at the net for him to deal with."
The Stars were outshot 40-27 yet were still in the game well into the third – until White's heroics helped turn the tide. Was Detroit's statistical domination more the result of poor play by Dallas or strong play by Detroit?
"I think it's them," Gulutzan said of the Red Wings. "Same thing with Pittsburgh last night. They kind of owned us in a few areas and those are areas that we can tidy up as coaches. We've learned coming out and playing, especially Pittsburgh and Detroit, some lessons now. And I'd rather learn them at 11-5 than at 5-11."
The first two periods were tight. The game went to the first intermission tied 1-1 on the goals by Eriksson and Kronwall – which was his second in as many games. It then went to the second break tied 2-2 after the goals by White and Morrow.
Eriksson's came at 7:09 of the first and capped a power play that he helped create by blocking a shot near the Stars' blue line and then drawing an interference penalty on Lidstrom. Eriksson fired home a rebound that went to the left side of the net past Howard – with Lidstrom two seconds away from getting out of the box.
Kronwall made sure the emotional lift didn't last for Dallas. He blasted a setup pass by Danny Cleary past Raycroft to the short side to tie it 1-1 with 2:43 left in the first -- with Tomas Holmstrom lurking near the crease.
In the second, the Wings took a 2-1 lead at 3:08 on White's point blast through traffic, only to have the Stars tie it 2-2 with 7:49 left on Morrow's third goal of the season – a snap shot from the bottom of the left circle.
Franzen got the eventual game-winner early in the third by scoring his team-high ninth goal off a rebound at 3:47, which set the stage for White's big defensive play and the momentum that followed.
"I hope he's OK, but that takes guts to want to do that and it was a big play in the game," Stuart said. "They were still in it at that point. You see somebody kind of sacrifice themselves for the good of the team and that lifts guys. You see the positive reaction that guys get from that."