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Refreshed Wings start strong on road

Energy from third, fourth lines propel Red Wings' 3-1 win

Wednesday, 02.1.2012 / 3:44 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Refreshed Wings start strong on road
Danny Cleary and Darren Helm (R) congratulate Drew Miller on his third-period goal that iced the Red Wings' 3-1 win over Calgary Tuesday night. (Photo by Getty Images)
CALGARY, Alberta – It’s been an unexplainable season of sorts for the Red Wings away from the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena.

But on Tuesday, the Wings managed to get a shot in the arm, turning around an otherwise sloppy game against the Calgary Flames, into a much-needed 3-1 win on the first leg of a four-game road trip.

With an emphasis on correcting their road woes, beginning with this trip following a five-day All-Star break, the Wings turned in a solid defensive effort and built on tremendous energy from the third and fourth lines to score two key third-period goals to seal the win at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

“Just getting off to a good start in this game and on this trip, too, playing better defensively in that first period, I thought we came out with a good push,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We tried to keep the shifts short to try and get everybody into it after a long break, and I thought we had a good first period.

“This is the kind of win that we want to try and get, especially on the road, grinding it out, tied going into the third period and waiting on opportunities and capitalizing on them, too.”

The Wings, who are now 14-14-0 on the road, haven’t enjoyed a road record north of the .500 mark since a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 2 put them at 6-5-0 away from JLA. But at home, it’s a different, much happier story for a team that is currently riding a franchise-best 17-game winning streak.

Slow starts have plagued the Wings at times on the road this season. But Tuesday, though they went nearly six-minutes before registering their first shot on goal, the Wings scored on their first big chance.

Rookie forward Jan Mursak, playing in just his third game since returning from a fractured ankle, blasted a shot from the right wing with 14:04 showing on the clock. Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made the initial save, but kicked a big, juice rebound out to the opposite side where another rookie, Cory Emmerton was waiting to slap the puck back into the open side of the net.

The third line of Darren Helm, Danny Cleary and Drew Miller also got into the scoring act when they combined for an insurance goal at 15:58 of regulation.
 
“It’s important, obviously, anytime you’ve got young guys playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “ I thought Emmerton, Abdelkader and Mursak were a real good line for us, made a real nice play on the entry there, and then so did Cleary, Helm and Miller for two big goals from the third and fourth line to win you the game.”

The Wings got the eventual game-winner on a play set up by Valtteri Filppula at 11:29 of  the third period. With the score tied, Filppula dashed around Flames defenseman Chris Butler on the right wing and raced into the offensive zone before dumping a backhand effort into the side of the net next to Kiprusoff. The puck took an advantageous bounce for the Wings and ended up on Hudler’s stick in the low slot.

“Fil was flying on the right side and I was just coming late down the middle,” said Hudler, who last recorded a game-winning goal on opening night. “Just ended up on my stick, I got lucky, again.”

But with both teams coming off a lengthy break , the Wings broke out of their doldrums quicker than the home team as the two clubs appeared to be handcuffed by the layoff.

“You just had four days off and a lot of guys haven’t touched their gear,” Wings defenseman Mike Commodore said. “So I think that’s totally natural that pucks are going to seem like they are bouncing a little bit and passes maybe are a little bit off, not receiving them as smoothly as they would have five days ago. But it comes back quick and I thought the game got better as it went on.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80