'Over and over and over again': Bernier gets bombarded, Red Wings fall to Stars 2-1 in OT
Detroit — Thanks to the best efforts of Jonathan Bernier, the Red Wings’ playoff hopes will survive another day.
Thanks to Jamie Benn’s goal 32 seconds into overtime, the Dallas Stars got two much-needed points on Saturday night.
Dallas topped Detroit 2-1 despite Bernier’s 50 saves, tied for the most in the NHL this season.
The goaltender stopped the first 42 shots before he cracked, eventually surrendering a goal on his 43rd shot.
“That’s my job is to stop pucks, and it’s tough to come out and have a performance like this and not win,” Bernier said. “For me, it’s finding a way to win. I wasn’t able to tonight.”
The Stars (20-15-12) set a season high with 46 shots on goal in Thursday’s 7-3 loss in Detroit. They smashed that record Saturday, also forcing Detroit to surrender the most shots it had all year.
The last one came when Benn beat Bernier short-side on a 2-on-1 for the game-winner off the crossbar and in.
“He looked pass the whole way,” Bernier said. “At the last second he shot, he made a nice shot. I felt it hit my blocker so I wasn’t sure it went in.”
Meanwhile, Detroit (17-25-8) finished with just 17 shots.
On the Red Wings' third shot of the game, Dennis Cholowski beat Anton Khudobin glove side for his first point of the season and a 1-0 lead. At the time, Dallas had 17 shots.
“I thought the last two games were his best two,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Cholowski’s 10 games. “I thought he really, really had command of the puck. He was probably our best breakout guy, was probably our best neutral-zone transition guy. So I thought he did a real good job.”
After Cholowski’s goal, the Red Wings went 15 minutes, 35 seconds of game action without a shot on goal, as Bernier stopped 19 straight Dallas shots.
“I thought the first period was fine, but the second period they were in our end the whole period,” Blashill said. “We just kept defending over and over and over and over again.
“You can’t get leaned on that long.”
Dallas had 21 shots in the first period, a season-high for a period, then 20 in the second. Detroit had three in each of the first two periods.
Dallas defenseman Mark Pysyk finally cracked Bernier early in the third period, tying the score by banging home his second of the season from the doorstep.
The Red Wings were without Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Frans Nielsen, who are out for the season, along with forward Robby Fabbri.
Jakub Vrana, who scored four goals on Thursday, was held to one shot. The other player acquired from Washington last week for Anthony Mantha, Richard Panik, had an assist on Cholowski’s goal, along with Evgeny Svechnikov.
Dallas took the season series 6-2 against Detroit, including three out of four this week.
The Red Wings play Tuesday at Columbus in a game that’s crucial for NHL Draft lottery position.
The Blue Jackets trail the Red Wings by three points, sitting in last in the Central Division. Detroit has six games remaining with three against Columbus, including the final two games of the season.
The Red Wings will still almost certainly miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season after making it 25 consecutive times, but they avoided becoming the fourth NHL team to be mathematically eliminated for one more game.
One point for Nashville in Monday’s game against Florida would seal Detroit’s fate there.
Matt Schoch is a freelance reporter.