If the proposed realignment plan that is floating around gets approved, the Detroit Red Wings won’t be hosting the Vancouver Canucks as often starting next season. Based on what happened Sunday evening at Joe Louis Arena, that might be a bit of a bummer for Detroit fans.
Trailing 3-2 after 20 minutes, Detroit exploded for six goals in the final two periods to cruise past Vancouver 8-3. Damien Brunner had his best game to date with two goals and two assists, Joakim Andersson added two late goals, and seven Red Wings had at least two points to make it a night to forget for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
Though plagued by trade rumors again this season, Luongo entered the night leading the NHL in goals against average and second in save percentage. It appeared early on he’d have enough offense to support him thanks to two typically stellar plays by the Sedin twins.
Henrik found Daniel with a backhand pass to set up a bang-bang scoring play 5:45 into the first period, then threw an intentional pass off the corner boards to send his twin in alone at the 16:18 mark. Chris Higgins‘ unassisted goal two minutes later was enough to overcome tallies by Jordin Tootoo and Niklas Kronwall, sending the Canucks into the first intermission with a 3-2 lead.
But the Red Wings stormed out for a dominant second period thanks to a suddenly productive power play. Just 2-of-19 with the man advantage over the previous six games, Detroit found the net three straight times in the second on goals by Daniel Cleary, Henrik Zetterberg and Brunner.
Things got even worse for Luongo in the final period. Brunner scored his second of the game by simply turning and firing from just inside the blue line, and his relatively soft shot knuckled its way in. At the 16:39 mark, Andersson’s routine slap shot turned into a goal after getting deflected by a defenseman’s stick. The big center scored again just 52 seconds later by one-timing a feed from Brunner for his third career goal.
Jimmy Howard got the surprise start in goal for Detroit after Jonas Gustavsson was scratched, apparently for tweaking his previous groin injury. He was rarely tested after the first period, making just 18 saves to pick up the win.
Two consecutive wins allow the Red Wings to leave the Joe with a bit of momentum as they head to the West Coast. Detroit will visit the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night and the San Jose Sharks on Thursday before returning home for a nationally televised battle against the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks next Sunday.
The game was over when…
The Red Wings turned the power back on for the power play. Both Patrick Eaves and Datsyuk had apparent even strength goals wiped away in the second period (Eaves by a quick whistle, Datsyuk by a correct video review that rules he had scored with a high stick), but the PP unit made sure it didn’t matter. With the players moving the puck quickly and Kronwall letting loose with slap shots from the point, it certainly looked like a much more confident bunch than in recent weeks.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Justin Abdelkader, despite being the only forward on the top two lines to be held pointless. Someone has to open up space for the scorers, and Abdelkader performed admirably in that role on Sunday, leading all players with five hits and generally making his presence felt.