The Dallas Stars dominated the shot clock Saturday night but the scoreboard belonged to the Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Stars, 5-1, at American Airlines Center.
The Stars lost their second straight game in regulation, ended their five-game homestand with a 2-2-1 record and hit the midway point of the season with a record of 20-14-7 (47 points).
“It was a tough one to lose,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “There were some good parts of our game, but it wasn’t good enough. We put up a lot of shots, but I am sure [their goalie] saw most of them.”
The Stars dominated play early, had a 12-0 shots advantage but were down 1-0 when Detroit scored on its first shot seven minutes into the game. The Stars bounced back to tie, but Detroit scored two goals in a 14-second span late in the first period to take a 3-1 lead.
“Those were frustrating. Definitely tonight I think we could’ve done things to avoid those goals,” said Stars forward Rich Peverley. “You’ve got to learn from these games and you’ve got to try to get better. Obviously we’re going to look at everything and we need to regroup here. We need to stop losing two in a row, that’s for sure.”
The Stars outshot the Red Wings 45-27 and had an 85-51 advantage in shots directed toward the net in the game.
“Their goalie played well,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “Any time the goalie is seeing that many shots and seeing the puck as well as he is, we had to do a better job of getting traffic there. I don’t think we did that tonight.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard had an outstanding game for the Red Wings, stopping 44 of 45 shots. Henrik Zetterberg scored two goals.
“[Howard was] real good for us. Obviously, we were waiting for Jimmy to be Jimmy all year long and tonight he was back to being what we expect,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “Tonight he was big and square and soft and the things he’s always been here. He’s got to feel good about himself because obviously it hasn’t been as good for him as he would have liked and he needed it. Early on, we have a lot of players out of the lineup and I thought we were on our heels and he settled in and played good. When Zetterberg got on the board, I thought we got it going.”
Dan Ellis got the start in goal for the Stars, but was pulled after giving up three goals on 13 shots in the first 20 minutes. Kari Lehtonen played the final two periods and stopped 12 of 14 shots.
The Stars dominated play early in the first period, holding a 12-0 shots advantage through the first 6:30 of play. But the Red Wings scored on their first shot of the game to take a 1-0 lead. Zetterberg got to loose puck in the left circle and put it into the open side of the net at the 7:04 mark.
Howard was superb in the first period, making several sharp saves including a poke check stop as Antoine Roussel broke in on the Detroit net.
Roussel took a goaltender interference penalty on that play, putting the Red Wings on a power play. But it was the Stars who scored to tie the game. Peverley’s shot from the left circle on the rush deflected off Horcoff and past Howard to make it a 1-1 game at the 12:47 mark.
Ellis came up big for the Stars a little more than a minute later when he stopped Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, who had been awarded a penalty shot at 14:02 of the first.
The Red Wings scored two goals in a 14-second span late in the first to take a 3-1 lead. Joakim Andersson scored from the right circle off the rush with 1:55 left in the period to make it 2-1. Just 14 seconds later, Drew Miller scored off a scramble in front to Ellis to make it 3-1 with 1:41 left in the first period.
The Stars pulled Ellis to start the second in favor of Lehtonen, who came up with some big saves early in the second to keep the Stars with in two goals.
The Stars thought they had cut the lead to 3-2 when Peverley backhanded the puck past Howard at the 9:35 mark of the second, but the referee blew the play dead and the goal was waved off.
"It just seemed like the ref blew the whistle way too early,” said Peverley. "It was a turning point, but at the same time, we've still got to fight through things. We could have done a better job regrouping."
A little more than two minutes later the Red Wings had a 4-1 lead. As Tomas Tatar drove towards the net on the rush, Brenden Dillon and Cameron Gaunce collided to take each other out of the play, and Tatar broke in on net and scored on a backhand shot at the 11:57 mark.
The Stars had a couple of power play chances to cut into the lead, but weren’t able to take advantage. Detroit came close to extending the lead on the second one, but Lehtonen stopped Luke Glendening on a shorthanded breakaway with 2:13 left in the second.
Zetterberg made it a 5-1 game with blast from the left circle with 7:21 remaining in the third period to close out the scoring in the game.
“For the number of guys not feeling that well, I thought our energy in the game was good. We came out great but didn’t score,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Our execution in finishing out opportunities wasn’t good enough. We could have had that team put away, and we didn’t defend some situations very well. They played well on their end and we gave up opportunities.”
The Stars now hit the road with games against the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.