Detroit — So, of course, with many of the Red Wings top offensive players missing due to injuries, the Wings explode for seven goals Thursday and win.
And Jakub Vrana got most of them.
The newly acquired Vrana was spectacular with four goals, as the Wings defeated Dallas 7-3, the seven goals a season-high for the Wings.
It the Wings ‘first victory over Dallas in the four-game series this week which concludes Saturday at Little Caesars Arena.
This, despite the fact the Stars desperately needed this game in a playoff chase while the Wings are decimated with injuries and trying to escape last place in the Central Division.
But the Wings had Vrana, and that was a big checkmark on their side.
Interestingly, the last time a Wings player scored four goals in a game was Anthony Mantha, the player the Wings’ traded to Washington for Vrana and Richard Panik (and draft picks), on October 6, 2019 — against the same Dallas Stars.
Luke Glendening, Panik and Sam Gagner (empty net) added the other Wings goals, as the Wings got contributions from players that’ll need to come through in these waning games of the season.
Goaltender Thomas Greiss made 43 saves to earn the victory.
The Wings (17-25-7) ended a three-game winless streak, while Dallas (19-15-12) lost its first regulation game in nine games.
Radek Faksa (power play), Joe Pavelski and Denis Gurianov (power play) had Stars goals.
The Wings were missing forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, Frans Nielsen and Bobby Ryan due to injuries.
But players such as Vrana, Filip Zadina, among others, are players the Wings are hoping to supply needed offense in these final seven games and Thursday they certainly did.
Vrana has five goals since arriving from Washington – Vrana has 16 for the season – while Panik got his first goal as a Wing.
Vrana capped the evening with a nifty breakaway goal at 10 minutes, 9 seconds of the third period, extending the Wings’ lead to 5-2, then made it 6-3 with a breakaway goal at 15:48.
“Offensively, Vrana definitely is somebody who can (make an impact),” said coach Jeff Blashill after Thursday’s morning skate. “We talked about him filling some of the offense that Mantha had and he can certainly do that, and the other night (Tuesday) he played a good game actually, he was plus-4 in chances, and those are guys who have played pretty well. Zadina has had growth (in his game), he has been real good .
“We just have to continue to produce a little more, we’re going to have to score dirty goals. A guy like Ras (MIchael Rasmussen), he’ll score around the net lots in the NHL, he has to make sure he does that over the next eight games. Everybody needs to step up a little bit, specifically when it comes to production.”
Vrana gave the Wings a 1-0 lead, converting a slick 2-on-1 play with Zadina. Vrana threaded a shot just over the shoulder of starting goalie Anton Khudobin at 9:50, just moments after Greiss made a key stop on a breakaway by Dallas forward Roope Hintz.
Glendening pushed the lead to 2-0 with his sixth goal, at 15:35. Glendening screened Khudobin, and got his stick on Marc Staal’s point shot, getting the puck past Khudobin.
Panik made it 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first period, getting his first as a Wing and fourth goal this season. Panik flipped a shot to the net, but the puck eluded Khudobin and got through his legs. Panik, driving to the net, nudged the puck into the net.
After Faksa (power play) cut the Wings’ lead to 3-1, Vrana got hs second goal and 14th of the season. Vrana skated into the slot and got his stick on Danny DeKeyser’s shot from the high slot, the puck redirecting past goalie Jake Oettinger, who replaced Khudobin to begin the second period.