After being named to Team USA's Olympic roster, many began to question why Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard made it on given a sub-par first half of the season.
Saturday night in Dallas, Howard silenced the critics with an Olympic-worthy performance.
He stopped 44 of 45 shots and got plenty of goal support from his teammates in a 5-1 Red Wings victory over the Stars. It arguably was Howard's best performance of the season so far.
"When the clock struck midnight the other night to end 2013, I put everything behind me," Howard said. "I just said, 'Here's a new clean slate and let's start fresh,' and I've been trying to do that."
Howard had posted only a 6-9-7 record through the first three months of the season, and had not won a game since a 5-0 shutout over the New York Islanders on November 29.
"It's been a while since I've had a game like this for the guys," he said. "They deserve a lot of them out of me so this is going to be the first of many for me down the stretch."
Henrik Zetterberg continued to be a pain for the Stars as he tallied two goals. The Red Wings captain also scored twice the last time the Wings played in Dallas, which was a must-win game in last year's regular season finale.
He scored the first goal of the game on the first shot for the Wings at 7:04 of the first period after he intercepted a clearing attempt and fired a wrister past Dan Ellis for his 13th goal of the year.
"When Zetterberg got on the board, I thought we got it going," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Rich Peverly's shorthanded tally at 12:47 tied the game at 1-1, but a sleeping giant would awaken after that.
Joakim Andersson put the Wings ahead for good at 18:05 after he beat Ellis with a wrister for his seventh goal of the season. Drew Miller scored his fifth of the year 14 seconds later he knocked a rebound off of a miss by Justin Abdelakder into the net.
Ellis was then replaced by Kari Lehtonen to start the second.
Tomas Tatar scored his eighth goal of the year in highlight real fashion at 11:57 of the second. Tatar intercepted a pass from Dallas' Brendan Dillon and raced up the ice, splitting two defenders before sneaking a backhander past Lehtonen.
Zetterberg added his 14th of the season at 12:39 of the third to make the final score 5-1. He also matched his total from last season.
NOTES: The Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk, who was a late scratch with a lower body injury. He is listed as day-to-day…Defenseman Alexei Marchenko made his NHL debut for the Red Wings, finishing with a plus-2 rating and 13:21 of ice time…Zetterberg has six points in four games since returning from a back injury.
- DET Jimmy Howard (W, 44 Saves, .978 Save Percentage)
- DET Henrik Zetterberg (2 Goals)
- DET Tomas Tatar (Goal)
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