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Gus gets win in first start with Wings

Gustavsson makes 25 saves to lead Wings over Sharks

Friday, 03.1.2013 / 3:01 AM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Gus gets win in first start with Wings

Jonas Gustavsson was spectacular in his first start with the Red Wings at San Jose on Thursday night. (Photo by Getty Images)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – This is what the Red Wings were hoping for when they entered the offseason free agency market looking for an experienced goaltender to back-up their starter, Jimmy Howard.

Making his first start in a Red Wings uniform, Jonas Gustavsson used every bit of his 6-foot-3 and 192-pound frame to deliver one big save after another in 60-minutes of regulation, plus another five-minutes of overtime, Thursday night at HP Pavilion.

He made 25 saves, many of the spectacular variety, and was perfect in the shootout stopping all three Sharks’ shooters for a 2-1 win for the Red Wings, who split their two-day, two-game California road trip. Detroit lost by the same score in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I thought we played real well last night and didn’t get any results,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought that we built off that tonight. L.A. and San Jose are big teams, and on back-to-back nights that’s going to be tough, but I thought our guys were mentally tough. Gus played well for us and our team really competed.”

Gustavsson has made two relief appearances this season, however, until this point, he’s mainly been relegated to watching Howard – and the club’s top AHL prospect Petr Mrazek – for much of this lockout-shortened season. Gustavsson suffered a groin injury in his first relief role on Jan. 19 and has had a few setbacks since.

“I was really excited to play today and you play because you want to win,” Gustavsson said. “That’s the best feeling that you can have, so I’m really happy with the win and how the guys performed today. They helped me a lot. They made it easier for me.”

For the second straight night, defense definitely carried the Wings. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall led the Wings’ block party, getting in front of four Sharks’ shots. In all, Detroit blocked 23 shots with rookie defenseman Brendan Smith and forward Johan Franzen collecting three bocks each.

Gustavsson was helped out by perhaps the defensive play of the game late in the second period. Rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff, who received a shiny new three-year contract extension earlier in the week, came up big by thwarting an excellent scoring chance by the Sharks. With center Joe Thornton and right wing Martin Havlat cruising in on a 2-on-1, Lashoff stayed with his assignment and made a sliding play through the slot cutting off Thornton’s cross-ice pass and eliminating the scoring threat.

“He was unbelievable, I mean, he’s been playing really well this year,” Gustavsson said. “I actually played with his brother (Matt) in Toronto, but he played well, especially on that 2-on-1. Unbelievable, how he read the play there. It gives you confidence when you feel that you have some Ds out there like that.”

Gustavsson came up with a few dandy plays of his own. First, he stopped Michal Handzus’s redirect from point-blank range that kept the game scoreless midway through the second period.

Later, Gustavsson prevented the Sharks from going up 2-1 in the third when he robbed Patrick Marleau, who tried to wrap a shot around the goalie’s out-stretched left leg. Marleau had a second shot, but Henrik Zetterberg cleared the puck out of the crease on the backcheck.

“I felt like at first I was going to be aggressive on him and then when he tried to go around me I tried to have my leg down and push there and I felt I had some guys behind me,” Gustavsson said. “You never know what's going to happen on the rebound but the guys helped me a lot.”

The Wings sealed the win when Damien Brunner scored his second shootout-winning goal of his NHL career. Meanwhile, Gustavsson continued his brilliance on the other end of the rink, making shootout saves on Handzus, Marleau and Ryane Clowe.

“What I liked about him is he earned himself more time in net,” said Babcock of Gustavsson. “The other thing is it never hurts to have competition and people pushing each other. The season's a grind. Howie needs a breather every once in a while. Howie will go against Chicago and Gus will be ready to go right away.”

THREE STARS: 3, Patrick Marleau, SJS (5 shots); 2, Antti Niemi, SJS (33 saves, L); 1, Jonas Gustavsson, DET (25 saves, W).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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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
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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