Abdelkader rescues Red Wings in OT
Detroit – Whenever the Red Wings have needed a stop-the-bleeding win during these past few rough weeks, they've gotten one.
They got another one Sunday, beating the Blues 2-1 on Justin Abdelkader's goal 24 seconds into overtime.
"Guys get sick and tired of losing, especially when you're not used to it," coach Mike Babock said of his team, which had lost six of eight heading into Sunday. "They're smart people, they know what the standings are. They want to be in the playoffs. We expect to be fighting for the playoffs (at the start of the season) and that's where we are."
Abdelkader scored his 20th goal – extending his career high – putting back a rebound past goalie Jake Allen, to end a two-game losing streak for the Red Wings.
"When you win games you find ways to win, and of late we kind of stepped off it and found ways to lose," Abdelkader said. "It's good to grind out a win against a real good team, and hopefully we can move forward on this homestand."
The victory puts the Red Wings five points ahead of Boston (the Bruins play Sunday night in Tampa Bay) and six past Ottawa in the playoff chase.
The Red Wings play Arizona Tuesday (the Coyotes have lost 16 of their last 17) and San Jose Thursday at Joe Louis Arena this week, before Tampa Bay visits Saturday afternoon.
"As long as we play well, it's obviously nice to be at home and nice to be able to take advantage of this week here," said Erik Cole, whose third-period goal tied the game. "But at the same time, it's every other day for the rest of the way. We need to be prepared every night and preparing ourselves for playoff hockey, and continue to claw our way and climb our way in the standings."
Cole's goal 24 seconds into the third period got the Red Wings even 1-1. Abdelkader swiped the puck straight onto the face of Blues defenseman Chris Butler. Cole beat defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to the loose puck and chipped the puck past Allen for his 21st goal (third with the Red Wings).
"We were able to get a turnover and didn't really have a play with it," Cole said. "Abby just tried to throw it in the corner and it ended up hitting their D-man in the side of the head and just laid in front there. I was able to beat their defenseman to it and whack it in."
Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots to earn the victory, his second quality consecutive start, in Babcock's estimation.
"It's important for us; we need Howie to be Howie every night if we're going to have any success," Babcock said.
Alexander Steen (power play) broke through in the second period against Howard with his 23rd goal, ending the scoreless tie.
With Luke Glendening off for high-sticking – the third consecutive penalty the Red Wings had to kill – Steen was left open on the point and whistled a slap shot that got past a screened Howard at 9:38.
But Howard wouldn't allow another, and the Red Wings persevered. In the end, they earned a valuable two points.
"We knew there were teams creeping up," Howard said. "When you lose a couple in a row and teams below you are winning, they're right on your heels.
"Tonight was a huge two points and puts a little separation. But you can't just rest on that. We have to get ready for Tuesday."