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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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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