Detroit – Every once in a while, the Red Wings show people they aren’t to be forgotten about just yet.
There are still a couple of months left in the regular season, 32 games to be played, and plenty of time to get healthy.
Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks was another example of don’t write off the Red Wings just yet.
Right now, because of all the injuries, the Red Wings are as talented as they’ve been. But they can still out-work much more talented and skilled teams.
“We just played hard, real hard,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The guys stuck with it. The teams we’re playing right now are so good, if we’re not dialed in, there’s no chance to win. But our guys were determined.”
In the sixth round of the shootout, Darren Helm clinched a 3-2 Red Wings advantage, beating Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford — while Jonas Gustavsson stopped the Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw.
Patrick Eaves and Todd Bertuzzi also scored for the Red Wings in the shootout.
“They have a great lineup, a ton of skill up front, and for us to get the two points, it’s huge,” said Eaves, who added a goal in regulation time. “I’m just glad we came out on top.”
The Red Wings (22-18-10, 54 points) are now 2-1-0 on this five-game home stand with Montreal visiting Joe Louis Arena Friday.
Second-period goals by Kyle Quincey and Gustav Nyquist erased a 3-2 Blackhawks lead and put the Red Wings in front.
But Chicago (32-8-12, 76 points) forward Marcus Kruger tied the game 4-4, capitalizing on an errant pass by defenseman Brendan Smith to Kruger between the circles.
Kruger one-timed a shot past goalie Jonas Gustavsson, tying the game at 5:12.
But the Red Wings settled down, Gustavsson (31 saves) came up with big saves down the stretch and in overtime, and they secured two much needed points in the standings.
“It was a big win for us, we need to catch the teams in front of us now,” Gustavsson said. “We need to try to put ourselves in good position with the Olympic break. If we can keep building on this and have the same type of energy for the next couple of games, we’re going to have a chance.”
Tomas Tatar and Eaves scored Red Wings goals in the first period. Henrik Zetterberg had three assists for the Red Wings.
Because of the new NHL realignment, and the Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference while Chicago stayed in the West, the teams play each other only twice this season.
This was the first of the two games (the other is March 16 in Chicago) and a sellout crowd seemed a bit more excited than usual on a snowy, miserable Wednesday night.
“It’s one (game) we look forward to and I’m sure they do, too,” said Smith, after the morning skate. “It’s hard to just sweep under the mat because of how successful each organization is and how each team has done in the past few seasons.”
Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp (power play) scored for the Blackhawks.
The Red Wings had scored four goals in the last four games combined, so this counted as an unexpected offensive explosion.
“We did a lot of good things out there and made a lot of good plays,” Abdelkader said. “With our group it’s about confidence. It’s big, and hopefully this can propel us moving forward.
“It’s a completely different feeling coming in here after a shootout win than a shootout loss. Even though it comes down to a skills competition, it’s nice to get into the win column.”