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Confidence gets Brunner through

Swiss forward ends scoring drought with game-winner

Monday, 04.1.2013 / 11:17 PM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Confidence gets Brunner through
Damien Brunner gets a crack at this scoring chance early in the second period, which was actually knocked into the net by Daniel Cleary. About three-minutes later, Brunner scored his first in 16 games. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – Even though he was entangled in a 15-game goal-scoring drought before Monday, Damien Brunner felt good about the way he'd been playing lately.

“I thought the last couple of games, I started to get the feeling back,” Brunner said. “I was skating better, I had my legs underneath me, I was gaining a lot of confidence and getting a lot of scoring chances.

“I knew when I was getting the scoring chances that they were going to go in sometime.”

That sometime was Monday night when Brunner notched his 11th goal of the season midway through the second period, sealing a 3-2 win over the struggling Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.

Brunner’s goal, which put the Wings up 3-0 at 9:54 of the middle frame, was made possible by the hard work of Gustav Nyquist. The rookie forward never gave up on the play in the offensive zone even after he was knocked down by an Avs’ defenseman.

Nyquist picked up a loose puck in the high slot, side-stepped a broken Colorado player’s stick and spotted Brunner in the lower left circle. And Brunner did the rest, firing a one-timer between Semyon Varlamov’s stick and the near post.

The goal chased Varlamov from the game as he was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who played the final period and a half.

“I saw the puck come loose and went to get it,” Nyquist said. “One of their guys made a move on me and then I saw Bruns was open back where he found a good spot. So just had to feed him the puck and he’ll make sure to put it in the back of the net.”

Monday’s goal was Brunner’s first since Feb. 24 when he netted two goals to record his first multi-goal game in the NHL. The second-period goal was also the first game-winner of his Wings’ career.

At one point this season, Brunner was just two-goals off the league lead in goals. But that was after he had bagged 10 goals in his first 19 NHL games.

While his assimilation to the North American style seemed to come easy, originally, the travel and the compressed schedule coming out of the NHL lockout may have caught up to Brunner who had played the last four-plus seasons in the Swiss national league back home in Switzerland.

“I really felt the heavy legs and was tired. I have to admit that,” said Brunner, who now has 11 goals and 11 assists in 34 games. “You’ve got to prepare yourself mentally to play tough every night. You’ve got to fight through it to bounce back. I hope I can take a positive from today and get some good games in the next couple of games.”

Nyquist, who was leading the AHL in scoring when he was called up to the Wings in mid-March, knows that goal-scorers like Brunner need to stay positive in order to trudge through difficult stretches.

“I think if you look around the league it happens to a lot of guys,” Nyquist said. “It goes up and down and in waves. Sometimes the puck just isn’t bouncing the right way for you. But you have to keep working hard and you’ll get rewarded eventually. Today was great to see Brunner get rewarded.”

THREE STARS: 3, Justin Abdelkader, DET (1 goal); 2, Jimmy Howard, DET (22 saves, W); 1, Johan Franzen, DET (2 assists).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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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