'We were terrible defensively:' Bad start dooms Red Wings in 5-2 loss to Stars

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
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This game appeared over early, and sure enough, the Red Wings never did mount much of a push-back.

Dallas, fighting for a playoff berth, struck quickly Tuesday and skated to a 5-2 victory over the Red Wings in the second game of this four-game series.

The Stars likely viewed this stretch as an opportunity to gobble some valuable points and so far, they're doing so, having won the first two games.

The Stars (19-14-12) scored three goals in the first period, then clamped down defensively the way they can, frustrating the Red Wings (16-25-7).

And as far as the Red Wings, team defense Tuesday wasn't exactly stellar. Too many blown coverages and breakdowns the first half of the game carried the Wings to the loss.

"We were terrible defensively," coach Jeff Blashill said. "This group has been pretty good defensively, we haven't given up many grade A chances comparative to the rest of the league, the big time grade A's, and tonight we were terrible defensively."

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier (45) sits by the net after Dallas Stars center Tanner Kero (64) scored a goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Dylan Larkin cut the lead to 4-2 after the Wings had pulled goaltender Thomas Greiss, Larkin's ninth goal (third in the last 20 games), at 16:13 of the third period.

Just a little later, Larkin was hurt on a face-off, immediately wincing in pain and skating to the bench where he appeared to be in discomfort. Larkin still looked in pain skating off the ice after the game.

"He was in some pain, so we'll have to see, I don't have much of an update right now," said Blashill after the game. "We'll see where he's at for Thursday. I honestly didn't see (what happened), I was watching (another part of the ice)."

The Stars cemented the outcome on Blake Comeau's empty net goal.

BOX SCORE: Stars 5, Red Wings 2

Valtteri Filppula scored the other Wings goal, set up by Jakub Vrana on a 2-on-1 rush, as the Wings stretched their winless streak to three games (0-2-1).

"We try to keep teams to the outside but we let them get to the inside too much, especially in the first (period)," forward Sam Gagner said. "I don't think it's something that's been happening very often but at the same time when you're playing teams fighting for a playoff spot and they're important games, we need to grow in those areas if we're going to be playoff team in the future here.

"You have to do a better job of not giving up those chances."

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski (21) and Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) compete for control of the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier allowed four goals on 12 shots, thanks mainly to the leaky defense, before being replaced by Greiss on Jamie Oleksiak's fourth Dallas goal at 3:36 of the second period.

"Bernie has been fantastic for us this year and he's worked his way back from injury and we need to do a better job of giving him a chance," Gagner said. "Their chances were grade A chances that are going to be tough to stop. We have to do a better job of keeping things on the outside and not giving up those high danger ones."

Tanner Kero (Hancock/Michigan Tech), Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski scored first period Dallas goals.

The Stars haven't lost in regulation time the last eight games (6-0-2) and have won four consecutive games.

"We created as much as we have against them at any point," Blashill said. "Even early in the game, I don't know if we created real chances but we had zone time and worked extremely hard offensively, extremely hard in the offensive zone and those defensive brain lapses cost us.

"We have to be a great defensive team and what happened tonight wasn't good enough."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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