Vancouver, British Columbia — Somehow, the Red Wings pulled out a game they had no business winning.
Totally outplayed for two periods on Saturday, the Red Wings rallied in the third period and overtime and defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.
Gustav Nyquist scored at 3:50 of overtime to end a four-game winless streak, just seconds after the Red Wings had failed on a power play.
Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar (power play) scored in the third period — a period when the Red Wings finally showed up and played with the passion and intensity they’ve been searching for.
“We had talk in here (after two periods) about losing four in a row and we have to get out there and win some battles,” Nyquist said. “That was the big thing. We skated hard and we outbattled them, we wanted it more.”
Goaltneder Petr Mrazek was sensational — he assisted on Nyquist’s winner — and kept the Red Wings close the entire evening with his 30 saves.
“We weren’t good enough through two periods,” Mrazek said. “We had to be better and play smarter and in the third period we played real well, didn’t give them any chances and we won the game in overtime.”
As good as Mrazek was, coach Jeff Blashill also felt captain Henrik Zetterberg’s leadership and determination was crucial to the outcome.
“Henrik Zetterberg, from the drop of the puck, was the one guy who was competing and battling at a champion level and the rest of the team followed suit in the third period,” Blashill said. “Our competitive level and battle level rose to the level it has to be to be successful.”
Tatar tied it at 2 at 6:59 of the third period with his second goal.
Justin Abdelkader provided a terrific screen on goalie Ryan Miller (East Lansing, Michigan State) and Tatar lined a pinpoint shot short side past Miller.
Pulkkinen opened the rally with his fourth goal.
Pulkkinen grabbed a loose puck near the middle of the ice, pivoted, and skated in alone on Miller.
“We didn’t play good, we lost too many battles and we knew we had to do something,” Tatar said. “That’s what we did, we won puck battles and we skated and we came back.”
Vancouver outshot the Red Wings 32-28 and had far more quality scoring chances as the Red Wings looked the part of a team playing its third game in four nights through two periods.
“Mrazek kept us in the game for sure,” Nyquist said. “He made some unbelievable saves in the first five minutes. We just kept turning the puck over, they came out flying, and Mrazek made some huge saves.”
Chris Tanev and Brandon Sutter had Canucks power-play goals.
The Red Wings are 4-3-1, while Vancouver fell to 3-2-3.