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Wings' inner will to win runs deep

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings forward Luke Glendening (41) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against the Sharks during the third period Thursday night.

San Jose, Calif. — One thing the Red Wings are showing as the final quarter of the NHL season draws near is the fact they're never out of games.

Thursday's 3-2 victory in San Jose was the latest example of their ability to secure points in the standings when all looks grim.

The Sharks held a 2-1 third-period lead, had killed off six minutes of Red Wings' power plays, and the SAP Center crowd was roaring.

But goals by Pavel Datsyuk, then Luke Glendening with 1:15 left in the game, produced a quick-strike Red Wings victory.

"We just kept playing," said coach Mike Babcock, repeating a phrase he's used often this season to describe successful results. "We weren't very impressed with our first period. We're a good skating team and we're competitive, and if you compete at a high level you have a chance.

"The game is fair every night. If you compete, you get rewarded and if you don't compete, you don't get rewarded."

After the failed third-period power plays, the Red Wings could have wilted.

They had numerous quality scoring chances on Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, an old nemesis, but were denied.

Then Datsyuk slid a backhander in the slot past a screened Niemi, tying the game.

Suddenly the Sharks were reeling.

"There's so much character in the room," said Glendening, pinpointing what's behind the Red Wings' resiliency. "It starts with the leadership, with Z (Henrik Zetterberg), he leads in so many ways, and Kroner (Niklas Kronwall) and Pavel (Datsyuk), and it just trickles down to the rest of us."

On this current five-game road trip alone, the Red Wings rallied twice from two-goal deficits in Dallas to win in overtime and scored late in regulation time in Anaheim to salvage a point.

With the playoffs in sight, Jimmy Howard feels this ability to find ways to win is helping the younger players on the roster.

"I don't think we feel we're out of it in any game," Howard said. "We just keep playing until the final buzzer and it's great to see. A lot of young guys are maturing. They have been throughout the year here, and it's going to great down the stretch and in the playoffs."

Lamp-lighting Luke

Glendening's goal Thursday was his eighth this season, and in stark contrast to the one he scored last season after being called up from Grand Rapids.

"It's nice, but when the team is winning it's all good," Glendening said.

The Red Wings don't necessarily expect offense from the grinding, workmanlike Glendening on the fourth line.

But the fact Glendening has turned his tenacity and skating into some big goals this season has been an added bonus.

"For a guy who does what he does, it's great to see Glennie get rewarded," Babcock said.

Dangerous Pulkkinen

Teemu Pulkkinen talked after Thursday's morning skate about how he'd been close to scoring goals in the NHL since being recalled a second time this season, but was just capitalizing.

Pulkkinen converted on the power play Thursday, then almost had another goal later in the game, a reflection on his fine game against the Sharks.

"Pulkky was real dangerous," said Babcock, who noted the Pulkkinen, Stephen Weiss, Joakim Andersson line was one of the Red Wings' most effective. "They were a good line. They controlled the shifts they had."

Pulkkinen is hoping his luck has changed, after scoring his second goal.

"I was feeling I had chances before, but I'd been unlucky," Pulkkinen said. "It was good to get one and get the confidence up.

"That's what I tried to do, just play hard and win stick battles and shoot the puck. It was a good game."

Red Wings at Predators

Faceoff: 3 Saturday, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings won the only other game between the teams this season ... Nashville owns the best record in the league and is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games…The Predators are led by G Pekka Rinne, second in the league in goals-against average (2.03) and save percentage (.930).