Wings take down Stars, record first home win of season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings right wing Anthony Mantha, front left, is congratulated by right wing Gustav Nyquist after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars in the second period on Sunday.

Detroit — The victories have been few and far between — actually only one before Sunday — so the Red Wings will enjoy this.

The Wings fell behind early but rallied with three consecutive goals and held off Dallas, 4-2, for their second victory of the season and first at Little Caesars Arena.

There was a sense of relief afterward in a Wings’ locker room that hasn’t had much practice in celebrating victories.

“It feels pretty good,” said goalie Jonathan Bernier, who made 28 saves in the victory. “Sometimes you forget how good it feels to win. Everyone is going to sleep well tonight.”

Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and Justin Abdelkader (empty net) scored goals and Bernier was steady throughout as the Wings (2-7-2, six points) earned a much-needed victory.

“Once we got the lead we were excellent in the third period,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We played with confidence and ground them and spent tons of time in their end.

“Once we got the lead, we played with confidence and poise and for a team that hasn’t won nearly enough, that’s a great sign.”

Gemel Smith scored the first goal for the Stars (5-5-0, 10 points) and Radek Faksa scored with 36.3 seconds left to make it interesting, cutting the deficit to 3-2 before Abdelkader's empty-net goal. Goaltender Ben Bishop, an old Wings nemesis, stopped 19 shots.

The Wings, after hurting themselves with penalties in Friday’s loss to Winnipeg, only had one penalty against Dallas, giving the Stars 51 seconds of power play time.

“Against a lethal power play unit, that’s critically important,” Blashill said. “The other night it cost us."

Bertuzzi’s goal broke a 1-1 tie at 4:59 of the third period.

Bishop misjudged a puck that wound up going through his unattended crease, and Bertuzzi was the first to get to it and poke it into the net for his third goal of the season — and a 2-1 Wings lead.

“It was just standard, Kroner (Niklas Kronwall) tried to rim it hard so I could catch it on the far side, and it got a good bounce,” Bertuzzi said.

The goal energized the Wings, who extended the lead to 3-1 on Ericsson’s first goal at the 9:20 mark on a shot from the point that Bishop was screened on.

Ericsson’s goal gave the Wings their first two-goal lead through 11 games this season.

“With all the losses we’ve had, it’s tough to have a two-goal lead,” Mantha said. “(But) we played an overall great game tonight. When we had the lead, we were in their face and we were playing real quick. Bernie made some great saves back there. It was a great win.”

Mantha and Smith traded goals through two periods.

Mantha actually could have had another. But his power-play goal midway in the first period was called back when he kicked the puck into the net.

After Smith gave Dallas a 1-0 lead in the first period, Mantha tied it early in the second.

Gustav Nyquist gathered a rebound off Mike Green’s shot from the slot, went behind the net and found Mantha near the post, who made no mistake with Bishop too far near the other post.

It was Mantha’s second goal, and ended an eight-game goal-scoring drought.

“Confidence matters, and the goal for Mantha is a big goal,” Blashill said. “He’s a guy who prides himself on being an offensive player and it’s tough to have confidence if you don’t produce.

“Produce and you gain confidence in yourself, and that’s the just reality. For him to score, that’s an important thing.”

Twitter: @tkulfan