Power Play, Blue Line Come Through As Red Wings Down Devils 4-2


What do power play success and goals from defensemen have in common? Both have been difficult to come by for the Detroit Red Wings early in the 2014-15 season, even as the team got off to a healthy start.

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With the team dropping three straight, Friday night was a good time for both of those things to show up at the same time, and fortunately, they did. The visiting New Jersey Devils scored the first and last goals, but the Red Wings scored four straight in-between to take a 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Despite controlling big chunks of the territorial play in the first period, the Red Wings had to rally back from 1-0 down when Steve Bernier scored 3:18 in. It was the defensemen who led the charge, with Jakub Kindl scoring for the second straight game on the power play at the 18:34 mark, and Brendan Smith following with an even strength tally less than a minute later to send Detroit to the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.

Detroit led the rest of the way, in a game that was refreshingly free of drama. Johan Franzen showed some of his old form with a nifty power play goal from the right circle that turned out to be the game-winner, and Niklas Kronwall padded the lead with 2:21 left in the second on a shot that missed the net but came back off the boards and bounced off Cory Schneider‘s skate and in.

Though Schneider didn’t get much help, as the Devils were outshot 24-11 through 40 minutes, he got the rest of the night off. Keith Kinkaid replaced him in the New Jersey net and stopped all seven shots he faced, as the Red Wings were able to cruise through the third with nothing but former teammate Jordin Tootoo‘s goal to worry about. New Jersey emptied its net with about three minutes left to get an extra skater on during a power play, but no one was able to score the rest of the way — including Darren Helm, who just missed an empty-netter after getting stoned on a clear breakaway earlier in the game.

It was a relatively easy night for Jimmy Howard, who stopped 15 of 17 shotsafter finding out that backup Jonas Gustavsson will miss extended time due to injury. Pavel Datsyuk was also scratched just before the game with a lower body issue, but the Wings didn’t need him on a night when Kronwall and Kindl were named the top two stars for their offensive exploits.

With the proverbial ship righted for now, Detroit will hope for a repeat showing on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to down. After that, it’s a rare four-day break before the Chicago Blackhawks visit, and different conferences or not, you know the Red Wings will want to be firing on al cylinders for that one.

The game was over when …

The blue liners found ways to score. They weren’t necessarily pretty — Kindl’s shot deflected off a New Jersey stick and Kronwall’s shot wasn’t even on net — but when the d-men are at least shooting the puck, good things can happen.

The unsung Red Wings hero was …

Detroit often sees opponents block more shots, but that wasn’t the case on Friday, with the Wings blocking 20 shots to the Devils four. It’s only fitting, then, to give this award to the man who led the way in sacrificing his body, Drew Miller.

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