Detroit — The Red Wings won but that wasn’t the main news in this game.
Yes, the 3-2 victory over Dallas behind three Robby Fabbri goals, in what was another fine step for a Wings’ team that’s won three of four games against the best teams in the division.
But the Wings (10-17-4) also suffered what might be a big, big loss.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who has arguably been the Wings’ best player, was injured with 1:28 remaining in the second period, left the game, and didn’t return.
Bernier was reaching for a puck to the left of his net when Stars forward Denis Gurianov fell on top Bernier, who lay on the ice and then had to be helped off.
Bernier noticeably didn’t put any sort of weight on his right leg.
Bernier stopped all 22 shots before leaving, yet another stellar effort.
Since the second half of last season, Bernier has done a remarkable job keeping the Wings somewhat competitive while usually besieged (especially last season) by ragged team defense.
This season has been more of the same, with Bernier’s play sparking this latest surge.
“He’s our best player,” said defenseman Troy Stecher after Bernier defeated Stanley Cup champion Tampa with a 40-save effort last week. “He gives us a chance to win every single night. We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in without him. He’s a heck of a goalie, and he gives us a fighting chance every night.
“We have great appreciation for him.”
Goaltender Thomas Greiss, making his first appearance in nine days, replaced Bernier stopped 16 shots.
The Stars made it interesting when Jason Dickinson tipped a shot past Greiss, with the Stars’ goalie pulled, cutting the Wings lead to 3-2 with 1:20 left.
But the Wings held on, with Greiss needing to make one key, glove save to preserve the victory.
If it weren’t for Bernier’s injury, Fabbri would have received all the big, bold headlines in this game.
Fabbri opened the scoring at the 14-minute mark of the first period.
Anthony Mantha and Fabbri skated into the zone on a 2-on-2 rush, Mantha fed Fabbri crossing the ice, and the forward wristed a shot that beat Stars goalie Jake Oettinger.
Fabbri got his second goal of the game, and eighth this season, at 6:36 of the second period.
Fabbri skated down the right side and blasted a shot from the top of the dot, giving the Wings a 2-0 lead.
Fabbri capped his natural hat trick at 9:05 of the third period.
Oettinger denied Dylan Larkin on a partial breakaway but left the puck near the crease as Oettinger’s momentum carried him away. Fabbri casually tapped the puck into the net to make it 3-0 for his ninth goal.
Roope Hintz scored 25 seconds after Fabbri’s third goal, deflecting a puck past Greiss, getting Dallas (9-10-7) on the scoreboard.
Building off recent victories over Tampa and Carolina, the Wings are playing with confidence they haven’t felt in a long time.
“Without a doubt,” said coach Jeff Blashill after Thursday’s morning skate, about whether the Wings could build off the big victories. “The way we played in that series and the way we’ve played in the last little bit is totally repeatable. Those are two of the best teams in the league, without a doubt, and we went toe to toe with both those teams.
“If we play the right way, we’ll put ourselves in position to win hockey games.”