Defeating Detroit was an important baby step on Stars’ path back to respectability

For the Stars, the road back to respectability will be littered with baby steps.

Consider Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings the latest one.

Dallas won its second straight game in regulation after going the first 12 games of the season without one. Jason Robertson scored twice, while Ryan Suter, Jamie Benn and Roope Hintz also scored, and Jake Oettinger made 28 saves to earn his first NHL win of the season.

The win marked the second time this season that the Stars have won consecutive games and, at 6-6-2, brought Dallas back to .500. Filip Zadina and Dylan Larkin scored for the Red Wings.

After beating the Flyers on Saturday night following a players-only meeting on Wednesday, the Stars needed to build on their momentum. A loss on Tuesday to the rebuilding Red Wings would have stunted that heading to first-place Minnesota on Thursday night. Instead, a win gives Dallas confidence that a turnaround could be around the corner.

“We just want to get this thing rolling,” Robertson said. “We showed against Philadelphia that we could kind of take the game over. Alternatively, we showed today that we could get a lead. Even though they push back, we can hold onto it and continue to get the win. Two different types of wins, and it’s good to learn how to do both.”

Of course, there are qualifiers for Tuesday’s win. It’s the second straight Stars opponent playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Detroit is expected to be at the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings this season. The Red Wings have played four more games than the Stars this season.

But circumstances nonetheless require responses to garner results.

The Stars played one of their best games of the season, controlling the first period, withstanding a Detroit push in the second after opening a 3-0 lead, and adding Robertson’s insurance tally in the third period. Oettinger made big saves on Lucas Raymond twice to preserve the then-one-goal lead.

Dallas’ top line of Robertson, Hintz and Joe Pavelski was the best on the ice.

Robertson created Suter’s goal with a nifty move in the neutral zone to retain possession and help the Stars enter the offensive zone with speed. Hintz scored for the third straight game, whipping a puck past Alex Nedeljkovic after Esa Lindell disrupted a zone exit.

Robertson scored from below the goal line on a wraparound in the third period to give Dallas a two-goal lead. He added an empty-net goal as well.

That doesn’t even count the numerous shots from the slot the line created that Nedeljkovic saved — or the Hintz one Tyler Bertuzzi stopped with his chest.

“Even when we chipped it in, we had the speed to go get it,” Pavelski said. “The forecheck was good. As we were in the O-zone, you’re able to play with it and hold on to it, and wear them down a little bit. We finished a little bit, we got a couple goals out of it. We’ve had good looks where they haven’t gone in. Seems like every night, we stay with it, they’re starting to go in a little bit.”

With the poor play by the Stars through the season’s first month, it’s tough to remember that there are still 68 games remaining in the NHL season. Dallas entered Tuesday night six points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, which pales in comparison to the 15-point deficit it faced last year during the shortened 56-game season in the spring.

Baby steps will help close the gap for the Stars, and Tuesday was one of them.

“Listen, at this point, we battled back to get to .500,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We’ve got to keep getting better, where we can play better than we did tonight, and we’re going to have to going into Minnesota on Thursday.”

Photos

Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) looks for a rebound off of Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn (14) battles Detroit Red Wings forward Carter Rowney (37) and defenseman Moritz Seider (53) for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars defenseman Ryan Suter, second from left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz (24) battles Detroit Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek (17) for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov (92) looks for a rebound off of Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) gives up a goal to Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Detroit Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen (27) attempts a shot as Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn (14) attempts to deflect a shot as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal (18) and Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) defend during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz, center, is congratulated by defenseman Miro Heiskanen (4) and forward Joe Pavelski (16) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (21) battles Detroit Red Wings forwards Vladislav Namestnikov (92) and Michael Rasmussen (27) for a loose puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (21) is congratulated by forward Tyler Seguin (91) after scoring an empty net goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Dallas won 5-2. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (21) attempts a shot on an empty net as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider (53) and  forward Tyler Bertuzzi (59) defend during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Dallas won 5-2. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Detroit Red Wings forward Pius Suter (24) looks for a rebound as Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen (4) and goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) defend during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Dallas won 5-2. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina (11) attempts a shot as Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Dallas won 5-2. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson, third from left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Dallas won 5-2. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov (92) looks for a rebound off of Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, November 16, 2021.Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson celebrates scoring a goal on an empty net late in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Dallas, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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