DETROIT – Good teams create their own luck. Desperate teams just find ways to win, which is exactly what the Red Wings did in knocking off the league’s best team Wednesday night.
“As a group of forwards we weren’t available for passes and we didn’t have the puck enough and so this wasn’t our best game,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But we found a way to win a game, we had good goaltending and we’ll take that every single time.”
The Red Wings had to overcome a pair of one-goal deficits en route to a heart-pounding 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, who hadn’t lost a road game since Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.
With the win, the Red Wings have a three-point edge over Columbus for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Detroit has 86 points, which also created some distance between it and the idle Toronto Maple Leafs (82), Washington Capitals (81) and New Jersey Devils (80). The Blue Jackets were also idle Wednesday.
Columbus and Toronto play Thursday night. The Jackets visit Philadelphia and the Maple Leafs host the Bruins.
Again, it was the stars from the franchise’s 2013 minor-league championship squad that carried the Red Wings offensively. Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Gustav Nyquist scored for Detroit. The trio is among a cluster of Calder Cup champs who have combined on 28-of-53 goals for the Red Wings since the Olympic break.
“We were down. I don’t think we played real good at the start of the game,” Tatar said. “We had to step up. It wasn’t just us, but the whole team. It doesn’t really matter who it is. It’s two points for us. A huge win. I’m really happy about it.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard helped stave off the Bruins until the Wings’ offense came to life in the third period. The Red Wings’ goalie made 33 saves; 24 through the first 40 minutes.
“The first two periods were pretty bad. We weren’t good at all,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Howie kept us in the game. We did a fairly good job of sticking with it, just trying to stay patient. We had a few chances and took advantage of it.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to stay alive and get in (the playoffs). Again, Howie huge, huge effort for us.”
Third periods have been a catastrophe this season. Entering Wednesday’s game, the Wings have allowed 25 more goals than they had scored combined in the third and overtimes.
But the Wings managed to turn the tables on Boston when Jurco and Nyquist scored one minute and 42 seconds a part.
Regardless of the win, Babcock would like to see his team begin stringing together consistent efforts for 60 minutes a night.
“I don’t know if we read the standings or looked at the standings or looked at the news clips and thought they were too good,” Babcock said. “We watched them I thought for two periods and they beat us to all the pucks. It didn’t look like we wanted the puck, our D had to work really hard because our forwards didn’t have the puck ever. So our goaltending was good and we survived and we found a way to get playing, get skating a little bit and we were fortunate enough to be opportunistic and score some goals.”
The Red Wings have an off day Thursday before they play back to back this weekend when they host Buffalo on Friday and travel to Montreal on Saturday.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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