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Wings keep climbing in West with 5-4 win over Dallas

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS – Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn't exactly pleased with his team's performance Tuesday night, but the Red Wings keep climbing in the rankings nonetheless.

Jiri Hudler scored two goals, Henrik Zetterberg added three assists and Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots for the Detroit Red Wings in a hard-fought, 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

"I didn't think it was a high-level game," Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said. "Guys get going and it's contagious. It took him [Hudler] a month and a half, two months to really get going, but he's confident."

Detroit (25-13-1, 51 points) began a four-game road trip with a win, and the Red Wings also drew within a point of Chicago -- which was idle Wednesday night -- for the top spot in the Central Division. Detroit is now tied with Vancouver for second overall in the Western Conference standings.

Michael Ryder had a pair of goals for the Stars (21-16-1, 43 points) in a losing effort.

"Yeah, I just thought we made a couple of lazy mistakes and we made a couple structural mistakes that we shouldn't make," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They're the team that can make you pay pretty quickly. I thought our compete level was up but you can't make mistakes like that against this club."

After a Todd Bertuzzi penalty 15 seconds into the game put Dallas on the power play early – a penalty which Detroit killed off – the Red Wings exploded for two unanswered goals, one by Valtteri Filppula at 8:02 and the other by Hudler at 17:06 to take a 2-0 lead.

Dallas answered just 50 seconds after Hudler's first of the night when Loui Eriksson netted his 14th of the year at 17:56. After his initial effort was stopped by Howard, the All-Star winger secured the rebound, skated around the back of the net and drilled a wrister into the left side of the Detroit net.

Brothers Jamie and Jordie Benn, the latter of whom was making his NHL debut, assisted on the tally.

"That was cool, we got pretty lucky there," Jamie Benn said. "Loui [Eriksson] saved our butts there, but it was pretty cool to play his first game and both assist on the same goal."

With one minute left in the opening period, the Red Wings struck again when a wrister by Hudler found the back of the net at 19:00, giving the visitors a 3-1 advantage. Zetterberg picked up his third assist on that tally while Filppula got his second helper of the night.

"The puck kind of followed us for a few shifts," Zetterberg said. "Everything we tried worked. It was good for the confidence. We wanted to get our road record better and this was a good start.
Another story of the opening period unfolded when linesman Steve Miller hit his head in an inadvertent collision with Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric. Miller left the ice with concussion-like symptoms and was ruled out for the rest of the game after receiving attention from Stars medical personnel.

Early in the second, Dallas answered when Jamie Benn collected a carom off the end boards and smacked a wrister from close in past Howard for his 10th of the year at 1:04.

But it didn't remain a one-goal game for long as Cory Emmerton slipped a wrister just inside the left side of the Dallas net and past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen at 3:51 of the second.

Dallas cut it to 4-3 at 7:25 of the second when a Ryder blast from the right face-off circle struck Howard in the midsection before trickling into the back of the Detroit net.

However, the Red Wings responded yet again, reclaiming their two-goal lead thanks to a slap shot by Johan Franzen at 11:46, his 16th of the season.

Ryder added a second tally at 14:07 of the third, smashing a wrister past Howard from the left face-off circle to make it 5-4, but that's as close as Dallas would get.

Lehtonen stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced before being pulled with 1:12 remaining.

Dallas wasn't whistled for a single penalty all night, the first time the Stars have finished a game with zero penalty minutes since a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Feb. 4, 2010, a span of 145 games.

Detroit continues its road swing Saturday in Toronto, while Dallas returns to the ice on Thursday in Nashville.
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