DETROIT – Amidst a six-game home winless streak in which Detroit seemed to catch every bad break, they caught a few more.
Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch with a groin injury Friday against Washington, and center Luke Glendening had already been sent back to Grand Rapids. It’s one thing to end a game with 11 forwards, but to start a game shorthanded – that’s a different story.
Just when it seemed Detroit’s situation was a lost cause, however, the Red Wings found what they have been searching for all season: secondary scoring.
“We got two (goals) out of the Mule, that’s good secondary scoring,” coach Mike Babcock said of Johan Franzen. “Normally when we’ve gotten any secondary scoring we’ve been able to win the game. I thought that was a positive thing for us.”
It’s no secret that the Red Wings have been looking for offensive production from players not named Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and the team’s top line received that help against Washington, sparked by Franzen’s first three-point game of the season.
Brooks Laich opened the scoring for the Capitals early in the first period, but Franzen scored two quick goals to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. The forward’s first goal came on a power play against the No. 1 penalty kill in the league and followed up with his second just over two minutes later.
Franzen also scored two goals against Colorado on Oct. 17, his first of the season in the team’s eighth game. The Vetlanda, Sweden native has been on a seven-game dry spell since the 4-2 victory over the then-undefeated Avalanche, five of which he missed due to an undisclosed injury.
With his two goals against Washington, Franzen notched his seventh multi-goal game since scoring five against Ottawa on Feb. 2, 2011.
“Well, I think when they scored we took over again after,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It wasn’t that we were bad after they scored. I think in the first when they got the first power play we had a little stretch there – five or six minutes – when we didn’t play. But after that we played good. We just have to keep doing that and doing goof things. It’s nice that Mule scored today. That line did a lot of good things, and just got to keep on trucking here.”
Danny DeKeyser scored Detroit’s second power-play goal late in the second period, recording his first career goal at Joe Louis Arena. DeKeyser also assisted on Franzen’s first score, earning his first two-point game of his young career.
Alex Ovechkin pulled the Capitals within one goal three minutes into the final period, and Michael Latta recorded his first NHL goal with just over eight minutes left to tie the game 3-3.
After both teams failed to score in extra minutes, Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone shootout goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 victory. The loss extended Detroit’s winless streak at home to seven games, their first skid of that magnitude in 24 years. It was also the Red Wings’ 11th straight overtime loss at home.
“Same thing, same outcome but we can’t get frustrated, can’t get discouraged,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Somehow, some way keep a positive mind frame in here and just continue to keep going out there and working because we’re doing a lot of good things. It’s tough to take over a game for a full 60 minutes. There’s going to be waves and ups and downs. Mistakes happen, we’re just going to have to find a way to overcome them.’’
Despite the loss, Detroit’s power play continued to be successful, converting on two of its four advantages against the No. 1 penalty kill in the league. They are now 4-for-8 in the last two games.
“I thought (assistant coach) Bill Peters has done a real good job with our scheme and our guys got some timely saves,” Babcock said. “The specialty teams coming in, you look at the rankings and say they could have an advantage coming in. We actually won that battle and lost the five on five battle.”
The Red Wings earned their 13th point in 16 games in the loss and travel to New York to take on the Islanders Saturday at 7 p.m.
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