The Detroit Red Wings turned in their best defensive performance so far this season last night.
Alas, so did their opponent, the Dallas Stars.
Michael Ryder scored twice, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 shots as the Stars spoiled the home opener for the Red Wings by winning 2-1. Lehtonen came within four seconds of a shutout until Damien Brunner put a shot past him with 3.6 seconds left in the game.
"I thought mentally we weren't sharp," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It was one of those games that I would have liked to see us find a way to gut it out in the third period."
"You start 1-2 and it's way different than starting 2-1."
Ryder's first goal came at 5:41 of the first period after he collected a pass from Cody Eakin, and fired a wristshot past Jimmy Howard.
Howard managed to keep the Red Wings in the game throughout the second, as he stopped all of Dallas' 17 second period shots, including when he rejected Trevor Daley and Tom Wandell from close range.
The Red Wings nearly got a shorthanded goal from Valtteri Filppula, who had Lehtonen beat from the right, but the shot rang off the post.
Lehtonen then robbed Henrik Zetterberg of a goal in the first minute of the third period by making a save on the doorstep.
Ryder's second goal came at 5:34 of the third when he beat Howard with another wristshot.
It wasn't until Brunner beat Lehtonen for his first career NHL goal that the Red Wings got on the board.
Howard finished with 30 saves. The Red Wings outshot the stars 40-32 for the game.
The Red Wings also went without a power play goal for the third consecutive game, putting them at 0-for-15 with a man advantage. Babcock later said most of that is due to the absence of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom.
"I thought the power play tonight was terrible," Babcock said. "We pass it around and pass it around and pass it around. If you don't shoot it and get it back and crash the net. When we had Nick and Homer, one got in front of the net and one shot the puck every time."
The Red Wings' penalty kill was able to kill off all three Dallas power plays.
NOTES: Holmstrom officially announced his retirement before the game. He dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff…Newly acquired defenseman Kent Huskins logged 15:16 of ice time, blocked two shots, and recorded one hit in his first game with the Red Wings…After the game, forward Gustav Nyquist and goaltender Tom McCollum were reassigned to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.
- DAL Kari Lehtonen (W, 39 saves, .975 save percentage)
- DAL Michael Ryder (2 goals)
- DET Jimmy Howard (L, 30 saves, .938 save percentage)