Star gazing: Witkowski's penalties cost Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
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The Red Wings react after Dallas center Martin Hanzal scored the Stars' fourth goal of the night in the third period.

Detroit — Judging by social media, the meteor flying around the area Tuesday was a lot more exciting than the Red Wings were.

The Dallas Stars took advantage of two questionable penalties against Luke Witkowski  scoring on both resulting power plays  to help them to a 4-2 victory over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

The loss was the third in the last four games for the streaky Red Wings (18-19-7, 43 points), who had won four consecutive games before the losing began.

BOX SCORE: Stars 4, Red Wings 2

“These sort of games you want to find a way to win in the situation we’re in,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “But we didn’t.”

Trevor Daley and Andreas Athanasiou scored for the Red Wings, with Tyler Bertuzzi earning assists on both goals, while goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots in defeat.

But it were the calls against Witkowski that proved crucial.

In the first period Witkowski was called for an elbowing penalty on Martin Hanzal, although video showed Witkowski barely made contact  if at all.

After the Red Wings’ Dominic Turgeon was called for delay of game, giving Dallas a two-man advantage, Jason Spezza scored on the power play to give Dallas a 2-1 lead.

Then in the second period, Witkowski and Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns fought after Johns made a good, clean hit on Turgeon along the boards.

Witkowski, though, was given an extra two minutes for roughing, somewhat curiously.

The Red Wings had a glorious 2-on-0 breakaway while shorthanded, but Frans Nielsen hit a goalpost. The Stars then went down the ice and Spezza ultimately scored his second power-play goal, giving Dallas a 3-2 lead.

Blashill could live with the elbowing call, but was perplexed by the roughing.

“The elbow call — hockey is a fast game, things happen fast, the refs don’t get a chance to hit stop and rewind,” Blashill said. “He (Witkowski) didn’t touch him but that happens. That’s going to happen sometimes.

“I get that.”

But the roughing penalty on Witkowski?

“To this moment I don’t understand at all how that’s a roughing penalty,” Blashill said. “I’m not sure if Luke’s expected to not defend himself there when the other guy drops his gloves first. Maybe he shouldn’t defend himself. I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll get an explanation.”

Witkowski was equally puzzled over both calls.

“The first one was a quick play. He’s on his knees, I think I let up on him,” Witkowski said. “The second call, he couldn’t call the instigator because I didn’t instigate, I didn’t touch him. I don’t know how he can call it roughing. You tell me.”

One night after being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career, Spezza had the two power-play goals for Dallas while Radek Faksa and Hanzal had the other goals.

Goalie Ben Bishop made 13 saves for the Stars, who throttled the Red Wings most of the evening.

“Not much happened either way really,” Blashill said. “We didn’t give up much, they didn’t give up much. It was a muddy track out there.

“We didn’t execute to the level we needed to.”

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