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Justin Abdelkader helps Red Wings ground Jets

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader (8) deflects the puck past Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for the tying goal.

Winnipeg, Manitoba — For two periods Thursday, the Red Wings didn't look like a team capable of swiping any sort of victory.

But, that final 20 minutes, that was a different matter.

They looked like a different team, and it was that effort that enabled the Red Wings to grab a 4-3 victory in Winnipeg, banking another crucial two points in the standings.

Justin Abdelkader sparked a late Red Wings rally, tying the game then setting up Tomas Tatar for the winner in a 2-minute, 10-second span.

"We were playing simple and more aggressive, we knew we had nothing to lose," Tatar said of the third-period turnaround. "We were down, so we forced the puck to the net and tried to find a hole.

"We were real happy we played well in that third period and we got those two points."

Abdelkader tied the game, 3-3, with seven minutes left.

Brian Lashoff fired the shot on net, goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped it, but Abdelkader — increasingly becoming a presence around the net — put back the rebound for his sixth goal.

Then at 15:10, Abdelkader carried the puck up ice and centered a pass to Tatar cutting inside.

Tatar fired a one-timer past Pavelec, his second goal of the game and eighth of the season, giving the Red Wings the 4-3 lead.

It's been a tremendous reversal for Tatar, who only scored one goal in his first nine games. He has seven in his last nine games.

"I might be harder on Tats than any other player on the team," coach Mike Babcock said. "He has a chance to be a real player and we're going to hold him on that. He's capable of being good every night.

"We expect a lot from Tats and he's capable of delivering."

The Red Wings (10-4-5, 25 points) won their second consecutive game on this three-game road trip, which ends Saturday in Toronto.

Winnipeg (10-8-3, 23 points) has lost three of its last four (1-2-1).

"We gutted it out," Babcock said. "They were better than us early. We were standing around watching and not getting involved. Out goaltender and penalty were good and it kept us in the game.

"Then we got upset, or whatever we did, and finally dug in and got playing and executing."

Tatar and Johan Franzen (power play) scored second-period goals, Franzen's goal briefly tying the game 2-2.

But Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault broke the tie with his second goal of the season at 16:12.

Perreault gathered a shot from Jacob Trouba (Michigan/Rochester) behind the net and wheeled out in front.

Perreault turned and slid a shot wide of Petr Mrazek, temporarily taking the steam out of the Red Wings comeback.

The game opened up after a scoreless first period, with four goals scored in 6:40.

Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Lowry opened the scoring, giving Winnipeg a brief 2-0 lead.

But Tatar answered 30 seconds later.

Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom commited a costly turnover from the corner, passing the puck directly onto the stick of Tatar in the circle.

Tatar made the Jets pay, firing shot past Pavelec and cutting the lead to 2-1.

With the Jets beginning to take control of the game, Tatar's answer of Lowry's goal on the very next shift was crucial.

And with the Red Wings gaining momentum, Franzen tied the game with his sixth goal.

Franzen took a pass from Danny DeKeyser near the red line and wheeled around and through Jets defenseman Mark Stuart.

Cutting to the inside, Franzen froze Pavelec with a quick shot capping a superb individual effort.

"It turned out pretty good," Franzen said of the highlight-reel goal. "I don't know what happened. He (Stuart) was trying to step up, lost his feet and kind of scrambled to get back up, and fell.

"It probably looked prettier (than it was)."