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#LGRW Preview: Red Wings look to get back on track against surging Stars

Detroit attempts to bounce back in Dallas after winless series in Chicago

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- When NHL teams endure lopsided losses early in the season, a sense of urgency quickly kicks in and teams can start to press. That's what the Detroit Red Wings are hoping to avoid as they begin a two-game series against the defending Western Conference-champion Dallas Stars this week.

After two tough losses in Chicago, the 2-4-0 Red Wings will look to right the ship as they wrap up a four-game road trip with two games against the 2-0-0 Stars at the American Airlines Center, starting Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m.

"Of course there's urgency," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Regardless of how long the season is, nobody wants to get into a streak where you're losing. Certainly a shortened season has a bigger impact right away.

"Do we want to nip this in the bud? Absolutely. Is there urgency to do that? Absolutely. Do we face a really good opponent that's played two great games so far? Yes. So we've got our hands full, for sure."

Video: Jeff Blashill | Practice Media Availability | 1/25

After having their first four games postponed because of COVID-19 protocols, the Stars dominated the Nashville Predators, 7-0, in their season opener on Friday, followed by a 3-2 win this past Sunday.

Blashill said despite his team's lopsided results in Chicago, Detroit has shown spurts of outstanding play in the early going, and the Wings can't dwell on the disappointing series as they face a quick turnaround against an extremely talented Stars team this week.

"We've just got to worry about playing great hockey," Blashill said. "Going into (Sunday's) game, by our internal tabulations, we were fifth-best in the league in giving up the least amount of Grade-A chances. And then we gave up 19 or 20 chances against Chicago. We've got to get back to checking great. We're going to have to do a really good job against a really good team, a really fast team."

Tuesday's matchup will be the first time the Red Wings and Stars will meet as divisional foes since both teams were part of the Western Conference's Central Division in 1997-98. Fans can catch the TV broadcast on FOX Sports Detroit or on the radio at 97.1 The Ticket.

 

Red Wings Storylines

• After earning seven points in his first six games last season, including five goals in the first two contests, Anthony Mantha has had a frustrating start to the 2020-21 campaign, registering just one goal among three points in the first six games.

"It's not something that I like, to not be involved and help the team," Mantha said about his slow start. "I'm someone that's hard on myself and I want to get better and that's the mentality I'm going in with. I can redeem myself as quick as (Tuesday) night."

Video: Anthony Mantha | Practice Media Availability | 1/25

• Despite the 2-4 start, the Red Wings have gotten excellent goaltending from Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss. Detroit's goalie tandem has combined for a .904 save percentage, which is much improved from the .886 save percentage from Wings goalies last season.

• The Red Wings continue to be without forwards Adam Erne, Robby Fabbri, Sam Gagner and Filip Zadina, as well as defenseman Jon Merrill, due to NHL COVID-19 protocols. Erne and Fabbri have been on the COVID-19 list since January 18, missing four games, while Gagner, Zadina and Merrill have missed two games since being placed on the list on January 22.

 

Scouting the Stars

• Center Joe Pavelski earned seven points in his first two games of the season. The 36-year-old earned NHL Second Star of the Week honors for his performance against the Predators and became the oldest player in league history to collect three or more points in each of his team's first two games of a season.

• On the other side of the age spectrum, 20-year-old rookie forward Ty Dellandrea replaced Blake Comeau in the Stars' first series because of COVID-19 protocol, and Dellandrea took full advantage of his opportunity. Dallas' 13th overall pick in 2018 made his NHL debut in the Stars' season opener and quickly earned the trust of coach Rick Bowness, making an impact on five-on-five, the power play and penalty kill.

• Goaltender Anton Khudobin shut out the Predators with 34 saves in the 7-0 season opener and also earned the win on Sunday, adding an assist in the 3-2 victory over Nashville. Khudobin comes into the Red Wings series at 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage in two games this season. The 34-year-old is tied for second in the NHL in GAA and ranks third in save percentage.

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