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Quick on draw, Filppula sparks Wings

Center scores 100th career goal, dominates faceoff cirlce

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 11:33 PM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Quick on draw, Filppula sparks Wings

Valtteri Filppula became the fifth current player to score 100 NHL goals with the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – It was hard not to notice the valuable contributions made by Valtteri Filppula on Thursday night.

Even captain Henrik Zetterberg chimed in after the game when he overheard reporters ask Filppula about his dominance in the faceoff circle.

“About time,” Zetterberg joked, as he walked past the crowd gathered around Filppula in the locker room following the Red Wings’ 5-2 win over Nashville at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings’ second-line center was an absolute beast in the face-off circle, winning 81 percent of his draws against five different Predators’ centers, who struggled against Filppula. He only lost three of 13 draws, while winning 10-of-12 in the offensive zone.

“He looked good I thought. I told him after the first (period) he was doing really well,” said Johan Franzen, who scored a goal and set-up Filppula’s first-period tally. “It looked like he won most of them. That’s awesome. It’s so much easier to play when you’re starting with the puck than having to get it back. So that’s huge for our line.”

The Predators built a pair of one-goal leads in the first period. But it was Filppula’s line that helped the Red Wings pull even before they added three more goals by Patrick Eaves, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader to seal the victory.

It was the first time that the Red Wings scored more than four goals since defeating Anaheim, 5-1, on March 22.

Filppula had more reason to enjoy Thursday’s game when he scored career goal No. 100 to tie the score at 1-1 at 6:53 of the first period. He wired a quick snap shot from low in the slot that beat Predators backup Chris Mason.

Asked if he was aware of his milestone tally, Filppula flashed a smile and said, “Yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t scored that many, so I know my goals.”

Filppula is the fifth player on the current Red Wings’ roster to score 100 career goals with the franchise, joining Zetterberg (261), Datsyuk (255), Franzen (164), and Daniel Cleary (119).

This season has been a struggle for Filppula, who suffered a sprained knee while playing in Finland during the NHL lockout. It’s taken him some time to get going. However, a week ago, the Red Wings made a move that they hoped would produce offensive results and get something out of Filppula, who’s now centering a line between Franzen and Cleary.

“I like center,” said Filppula, who has three points in the last six games. “I think you get the puck more and that way you’re more involved. Sometimes it goes well on the wing and sometimes it goes well at center, but definitely I’ve enjoyed playing center.”

With the win Thursday, the Red Wings took over sole possession of the No. 7 seed in the West, jumping the Minnesota Wild, who was idle on Thursday. But Detroit will have to wait until Saturday, the final day of the regular-season, to learn if they will extend their consecutive playoff streak to 22 straight seasons. That’s because Columbus was also a winner on Thursday, defeating the Stars, 3-1, at Dallas.

The Red Wings, who maintain a one-point lead over Columbus and Minnesota, only need to beat the Stars Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

The Wings’ offense is certainly rolling now as they Detroit finished the home portion of the schedule on a three-game winning streak, out-scoring Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville this week by a 12-3 margin.

“We need to win here down the stretch so it’s all about playing the way we do,” said Franzen, who has 13 points in the last 12 games. “We keep it simple. We get pucks to the net and we get traffic. We really haven’t been doing that here. We’d been trying to make the fancy plays on the outside and hoping for an open net somewhere. It doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to play like this and that’s when you start scoring.”

THREE STARS: 3, Valtteri Filppula, DET (1 goal, 3-of-13 FO); 2, Pavel Datsyuk, DET (1 goal, 2 assists); 1, Johan Franzen, DET (1 goal, 1 assist).

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