Spezza scores 2 after scratch and Stars beat Red Wings 4-2
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Jason Spezza made the most of an opportunity to play a day after getting benched.
Spezza scored two tiebreaking goals on power plays to help the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Tuesday night.
The 33-year-old forward was a healthy scratch on Monday when Dallas won at Boston in overtime.
“I was unhappy about it,” he acknowledged. “I didn’t like the decision, but we have to get through that and just move forward.”
Spezza bounced back by ending his 14-game goal drought, scoring twice in a game for the first time since March 12, 2016. Spezza had 33 goals just two years ago and has 323 career goals, but he scored just five times in 44 games before breaking through against the Red Wings.
“He played like he can and played like will,” Dallas’ Ken Hitchcock said after coaching in his 1,500th NHL game. “That’s what we expect from him and we expect that every night. He’s shown it at times, but not consistent. This is what he’s capable of and what he can bring to the team and we need it.”
Spezza scored on a lunging, one-timer below the left circle with 5:52 left in the second period. His first goal came on a redirected shot midway through the first.
“He made two great finishes on the power play,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s always dangerous when you give him those chances.”
Dallas’ Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal also scored. Ben Bishop stopped 13 shots for the Stars, who have won six of eight.
“We won the game because of the second-wave players,” Hitchcock said. “The things we’ve been harping on for months, we got in the last two games. Big plays by second-tier players, exactly what we need if we’re going to win. If we expect to a playoff team, that’s the next step. We’re not going to rely on the same two or three guys every night.”
Trevor Daley put Detroit ahead in the opening minute, but Faksa redirected a shot past Jimmy Howard at 2:48 of the first. Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie midway through the second period and Spezza’s second goal 2:25 later put Dallas ahead 3-2.
Blashill and his players disputed a roughing call that went against Luke Witkowski when he was also penalized for fighting Stephen Johns, giving Dallas an extra skater as Spezza scored the game-winning goal.
“I said, ‘Hey, do you want to go?” Witkowski recalled asking Johns. “If he doesn’t want to fight, he doesn’t have to drop his gloves, so I didn’t make him fight.”
Howard had 22 saves for the Red Wings, who had won five of seven.
Detroit rookie Tyler Bertuzzi assisted on both goals, giving him seven assists and eight points in 11 NHL games this season.
“I’m just getting more used to it every game,” he said. “Playing with Larks (Dylan Larkin) and AA (Athanasiou), it’s pretty easy on me.”
NOTES: Dallas scratched C Gemel Smith to make room for Spezza in the lineup. … The Red Wings were without F Justin Abdelkader (lower body) and F Darren Helm (lower body) and both are expected to miss at least another game. … Spezza had two power-play goals in a game for the first time since he played for Ottawa against Washington on March 30, 2010.
Stars: Visit Columbus on Thursday for the third stop in a four-game trip.
Red Wings: Get a three-day break before hosting Carolina on Saturday.