A week ago, Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen befuddled the Detroit Red Wings all night during their home opener. Thirty minutes into the rematch on Tuesday night, it looked like fans at the Joe Louis Arena might be in for more of the same.
That was until the Wings turned up both the quality and quantity of shots on Lehtonen, breaking through in a big way. Valtteri Filppula scored two goals on typically beautiful assists from Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg added a goal and an assist as Detroit skated by Dallas 4-1.
The Stars struck first about halfway through the game on Loui Eriksson‘s third goal of the season. Jaromir Jagr made a heads up more to keep play moving forward while the Wings were in the process of changing lines, leading to a 2-on-1 break. Cody Eakin timed his pass across the Detroit crease perfectly for an easy conversion for Eriksson.
Lehtonen’s dominance of Detroit came to an end three minutes later. Datsyuk was able to scoop up a loose puck behind the Dallas goal line before skating behind the net and feeding Filppula in front.
The go-ahead score came courtesy of Zetterberg after a frantic sequence of penalties late in the second period. High sticking calls to both Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney gave Detroit a brief 4-on-3 power play that became a 5-on-3 when Zetterberg emerged from the box at the end of his tripping call. The captain played a little give and go with Patrick Eaves in the offensive zone to set up a high slap shot that found the twine just 24 seconds before the second intermission.
A pair of insurance goals 23 seconds apart sealed the game up in the third period. Damien Brunner was able to deflect a point shot from Johan Franzen by Lehtonen, and Filppula tallied for the second time after a sweet individual move by Datsyuk to draw the defense out of position. Lehtonen got a rare rest with 4:30 left in the game when he was pulled in favor of Richard Bachman.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made the most difficult of his 25 saves early in the contest. The Wings penalty killers also shined, blanking the Stars on all five of their power plays and generating a breakaway for Filppula that nearly got him a hat trick.
Todd Bertuzzi suffered cuts that required stitches when he was struck by Benn’s high stick in the second period, but he returned and assisted on Filppula’s second goal. Brendan Smith also escaped serious harm despite appearing to be bloodied by Whitney’s stick.
The Red Wings will have two nights to rest before facing the 5-1 St. Louis Blues on Friday night. Then it’s off to Columbus on Saturday for a visit to the Blue Jackets, but at least the team won’t be having any recurring nightmares of Lehtonen to take with them this time around.
The game was over when…
The Wings scored two goals so quickly in the second period. There was a bit of a lull in the momentum when Brunner’s goal needed to be upheld by replay, but Datsyuk made sure to restore it in a heartbeat. The Magic Man made a nifty individual move to skate in on Lehtonen’s left, and his typically precise pass left Filppula with little to do but make sure he put his shot on net.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Probably all of the fourth-liners for keeping the energy level high in a scoreless first period (the Wings haven’t scored in the first period of any game this year), but a special shout out goes to Jordin Tootoo. You don’t like the fact that Tootoo had a premeditated fight with Eric Nystrom three seconds into the game? That’s cool, because he also threw down with Brenden Dillon later in the first. Detroit didn’t have a guy like that last season, and when Tootoo wasn’t fighting, he was still contributing with physical play–and even a glimpse or two of offense.