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'Character check' rout of Red Wings gets Stars back in routine

Despite trailing early and missing key contributors, Dallas still finds a way to beat Detroit convincingly

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- There's something to be said for the bland beauty of routine.

It's at the core of what most good teams do:

 

[WATCH: All highlights from Stars' win over Red Wings]

 

Mechanical repetitions done over and over until they are habit.

Relentless pursuit of details until they are rote.

Video: DET@DAL: Bowness on Stars' 4-1 win over Red Wings

A cold intensity that helps create expectation from teammate to teammate and from game to game.

"Give our guys credit," said coach Rick Bowness. "It was a character check, there's no question, and we responded."

In a season that has been filled with far too many changes, Friday's 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings was a welcome return to the routine. The Stars are good, now sitting third in the Central Division at 24-14-4 (52 points) and also sitting on a four-game win streak. The Red Wings are bad, falling to a league-worst 10-29-3 and losing for the seventh time in the past eight games.

Dallas needed to win this game, and it did.

Video: DET@DAL: Hintz buries SHG on 2-on-0 rush

That's important.

It's important because the team was coming off a huge emotional peak in the Winter Classic Wednesday. It's important because John Klingberg missed the game with a lower-body injury and Corey Perry started a five-game suspension for an elbowing penalty in the Winter Classic.

 

[RELATED: Perry suspended by league five games without pay for elbowing]

 

It's important because the Stars have aspirations of doing something special this year.

So while comebacks against Colorado and Arizona and Nashville show the high end of this group, games like Friday show the foundation. If you want to be good in the NHL, you need to show up pretty much every game. If you want to be good, you need to beat the teams you're supposed to beat.

Video: DET@DAL: Pavelski on 'fun night' in Stars' victory

"It took a little while to get our legs going, there's no question, and that's the emotional commitment that you need to make," Bowness said of his players. "They responded and battled hard, and the best period was the third period where we played Dallas Stars hockey.

"We were a little loose at times in the first couple (of periods), but they did the job that we needed them to do, and we won the game."

Yes, Detroit took a 1-0 lead just 3:47 into the game thanks to some nice net drive and a fluky bounce. But that was all the Stars yielded. They came back and played serious, smart hockey, and they converted some great chances to get goals for Roope Hintz (his 14th), Radek Faksa (his ninth), Joe Pavelski (his eighth) and Andrej Sekera (his second). Esa Lindell finished with three assists, Hintz with a goal and assist, and Pavelski with a goal and an assist on the night he was honored for playing his 1,000th regular season game.

It was the right response.

Video: DET@DAL: Faksa scores PPG on deflection

The Stars had a 27-23 advantage in shots on goal, a 51-47 edge in shot attempts, a 28-26 lead in faceoffs, and had 25 hits to the Red Wings' 16. The home team scored on the power play and killed five penalties. It also scored twice shorthanded. Dallas got down in the game, was missing some key bodies, and still found a way to win convincingly.

Ironically, the score could have been worse. Mattias Janmark had a redirected shot that sat on the goal line just inches from going over. Pavelski had a goal called back because of a goaltender interference review that could have easily been debated.

Lindell stepped up in the absence of Klingberg and logged 25:26 in ice time. He played 7:08 shorthanded and had assists on both of the shorthanded goals. Hintz had five shots on goal in 14:57. Miro Heiskanen had four shots on goal in 24:31. Roman Polak played 19:31, had five hits and was plus-2. Anton Khudobin allowed one goal on 23 shots.

Joel Kiviranta made his NHL debut stepping in for the suspended Perry, and while he had his ups and downs, his teammates helped carry him.

Video: DET@DAL: Lindell notches three assists in Stars' win

"He was nervous in the first period, which was to be expected," Bowness said. "We had to kill four penalties, and that sort of took the rhythm out of his game, and we lost him for a little bit. But I was very happy with his game."

And that could be said for the Stars as a whole, as well.

 

[PHOTOS: Stars salute Pavelski for 1,000-game milestone with special ceremony]

 

"It was for sure a good thing to play a game where we weren't forced to come back from being down," Lindell said. "We knew coming into this game against Detroit that they skate really hard, and so we knew it would be a challenge today, but we got through it."

With flying colors, really. The Stars were stumbling into Christmas in a 1-3-0 slump, but have powered out by making some nice comebacks, winning before the second-largest crowd to ever see an NHL game on Wednesday, and now taking a step toward normalcy.

Video: DET@DAL: Pavelski steals puck and scores

They are trying to take all of this chaos and form an ionic bond that can last. They are trying to get some results that are expected.

"I think you can tell that maybe we were a bit fatigued at the end there before the break, so obviously we came out of the break with some urgency we needed," Janmark said as he relived the past few weeks. "But I think still we've got a lot of work to do."

Because there is nothing harder than finding consistency.

Especially this season.

Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Buffalo Sabres when they return home to American Airlines Center on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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