Mired in a four-game losing streak that saw the team score just five goals, it seemed logical that the Detroit Red Wings would have to break out of their offensive slump in order to get back in the win column.
That didn’t happen Wednesday night in Vancouver, but two goals managed to do the trick anyway since the Wings held the host Canucks to just one. Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Tatar both tallied, while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves to ensure Detroit left Rogers Arena with a much-needed victory.
The Canucks entered the contest on a four-game winning streak, and despite being outshot 12-7 by the visitors in the opening frame, they got on the board first. After a long outlet pass by rookie defenseman Ryan Stanton, the Sedin twins made some of the magic they’re so famous for, with Henrik finding Daniel below the right circle for a tough angle one-timer that found the net 14:12 into the game.
Each team had two power plays in the first 20 minutes, but the score stayed 1-0 until the first intermission. The Red Wings held the Canucks without a shot for more than seven minutes, and were rewarded for their defensive work a few minutes later when Alfredsson tied the score with his third goal of the season. That came after Brendan Smith jumped up in the play and found himself down next to the goal, and his mishandled pass floated into the path of the former Ottawa captain to convert from the slot at the 11:37 mark.
Paved Datsyuk had a chance to put Detroit on top a few minutes later when one of his trademark wicked backhands found the crossbar. But it was Tatar who ended up breaking the deadlock with his first goal of 2013-14, cutting across the blue line and firing a shot low along the ice that fooled Roberto Luongo with just over a minute remaining in the second period.
The Wings needed to keep their defensive focus all the way through the final stanza, killing off a high-sticking call against Smith and surviving a couple close calls with Luongo pulled in the final minute. The team effort paid off, as the Canucks were held to a season-low 20 shots on the night.
Even with the losing streak snapped, Detroit will continue on its four-game Canadian road trip looking for answers on offense. Mike Babcock mixed the lines up a bit mid-game, temporarily playing Todd Bertuzzi with Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary, and that experimentation figures to continue as the Wings’ string of games scoring two goals or less enters its third week.
Still, a win is a win, and the victory on Wednesday was one the team should feel good about as it heads to Calgary.
The game was over when:
Not until the final horn on this particular night. The Canucks got Luongo pulled but ended up having Daniel Sedin go off late for hooking. That should have sealed it, except Niklas Kronwall took his own penalty with 26 seconds left, and both Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler took dangerous looking shots before it was all said and done.
The unsung Red Wings hero was:
How about Joakim Andersson for his faceoff work and all-around defensive hustle? Andersson played more than any Detroit forward on the PK unit, which went 3-for-3 on kills, and he won several draws in the game’s final minute to help seal up the win.