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Wings capitalize on “sense of urgency”

Saturday, 01.30.2010 / 12:00 PM ET / News
By Michelle Crechiolo  - Intern
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Wings capitalize on \u201Csense of urgency\u201D
DETROIT – Friday’s game against the Nashville Predators seemed destined to end like some of the Red Wings’ recent disappointing losses.

The Wings had entered the third period up 3-1, but Nashville was refusing to go down without a fight, getting on the board at the 5:57 mark to climb within one. The Predators offense was peppering Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with a barrage of shots, creating a multitude of scoring opportunities.

That’s when Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg scored from behind the Nashville goal line with 9:48 remaining in the period to give his team a 4-2 cushion. The Wings executed and held onto their lead to capture two much-needed points.

With Friday’s win, the Wings are now tied with the Predators for seventh place in the Western Conference with 61 points.

“It was very evident that once we got ahead that we weren’t very comfortable, just because we haven’t won lately. We’ve blown some leads, and I think that you carry that around,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “You have to win a game like this to get yourself back on track so everyone can relax and start to play hockey at a high level.”

In all four games previous to Wednesday’s 5-2 loss against Minnesota, the Wings let two-goal leads slip away in the third period. Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said that in order to win on Friday, his team had to come out with a “sense of urgency” in order to hold onto their leads, and they proved to be up to the task.

“I thought we had that tonight,” he said. “The guys did a great job of being in shooting lanes and trying to block shots, and really play with some desperation. I thought we needed that tonight. I thought it really came out late in that third period.”

The catalyst behind the Wings’ victory was Howard, who performed brilliantly until the final buzzer sounded, stopping 46 of 48 shots, 18 of which came in the third period. He came close to reaching his NHL career high of 51 saves recorded on Jan. 7 at Los Angeles .

Howard said that all he concentrated on was keeping in mind how vital the race for playoff points is.

“I was seeing the puck well out there, I was just getting out and letting the puck hit me,” Howard said. “You know, not trying to overdo anything, not trying to be cute out there, because this isn’t the time, we need points. That’s all I really try to concentrate on.”

Lidstrom is impressed with how the rookie netminder is growing as a player. “I think he’s learning a lot by playing in games like this, where you have to bear down and play real well in the last minute or in the whole third period the way he did,” he said.

“I think he’s been really taking huge steps forward with the way he’s been playing so far this year.”

FINALS REMATCH: The Wings will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins for a matinee game on Sunday. NBC will broadcast the match as their “Game of the Week.”

The Wings and the Penguins faced each other in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances. The resulting champions were split, with the Wings winning the Cup in 2008, and the Penguins taking it in 2009.

Matches between the Wings and the Penguins always prove exciting, with both teams possessing notable future Hall-of-Famers. Detroit has the Big Three of Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom, while Pittsburgh’s stars include Olympians Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

It’s an event the players look forward to every year. Since the Wings play in the Western Conference and the Penguins play in the Eastern Conference, they only see each other twice during the regular season at the most.

“We’re looking forward to tomorrow and having a great match-up against the Penguins,” Zetterberg said.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” forward Kris Draper said. “There’s been a lot of great hockey played between these two organizations the last couple years, and we’re expecting more of the same. It’s going to have a little bit of everything.”

This game will be the start of a five-game road trip, which will consist of stops in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and St. Louis before returning to Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 11.

Forward Tomas Holmstrom, who was on track to return for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, will be taking a little more time to recover from a broken foot sustained on Jan. 6.

Holmstrom felt good during Saturday’s practice, but not well enough to dispel his anxieties about returning too early.

“There’s always a little nervousness, but I’m also really worried I could snap it up again. I don’t want to do that,” he said. “It’s still a little tender going in. But the more I skated it seems to get warmer and looser, so it’s pretty good.”

“We’re going to give him another couple of days,” Babcock said. “Confidence-wise, I think it’s good for him to get another couple of days under his belt.”




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89