Abdelkader ends goal-scoring drought
Boston — One bright spot in an otherwise bland Red Wings game Saturday was Justin Abdelkader’s reappearance on the scoresheet.
Abdelkader, who signed a seven-year contract extension Friday for $29.25 million, hadn’t scored a goal in 14 games.
But Abdelkader scored the lone Red Wings goal in the 3-1 loss to the Bruins, a power-play goal, his fifth of the season but first since Game 2 of the regular season.
“It’s always nice to score,” said Abdelkader, who was reunited with Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin on a line that played so well early in the season. “Tonight as a team we had some chances but we gave up too many Grade A chances.”
For a long stretch after the hot start, Abdelkader got away from the customary grinding and hard, physical game that had made him successful.
But coach Jeff Blashill has seen the old Abdelkader in recent games, much more active and involved, and srong physically.
“Abby’s play has been better,” Blashill said. “I talked about how he’s got to make sure he’s a worker. If he’s a worker, then he’s a great skill set in terms of a worker, a big body who can score.
“But if he’s not working, then we can’t try to just skill our way around the ice. So it was good for him. Confidence is a huge thing. When you’re not scoring, you don’t have any confidence. When you start scoring, you gain confidence.”
Abdelkader said the Red Wings as a team need to get to the front of the net more often.
“Just get to the front of the net,” Abdelkader said. “It’s never easy, especially with a team like Boston that likes boxing out. But our defense did a good job of getting pucks through, we just have to get sticks on them (pucks) or get tips and hopefully hit the net.”
The Bruins have now beaten the Red Wings five straight games over the last two regular seasons and Saturday’s win was an important one for Boston, which came into the evening a lousy 1-5-1 at home.
“They are a high-end team and they have some high-end players on that team, so you just have to continue to lock them down and give them limited space,” Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes said. “When they have the puck, make them dump it in and not give them a lot of space and make them make plays.”
The Bruins appear to have growing confidence against the Red Wings.
“We’ve played well against them,” coach Claude Julien said. “There’s a big amount of respect that goes toward that team because of their skating ability, because of their skill ability with the puck, there’s a lot of experience there.
“They’ve always been a good team and they continue to be a good team. We know we have to have our A game. We’ve been able to have, more or less, our A games against them. And that’s probably the biggest key to trying to beat the Red Wings.”
Which goal would goalie Petr Mrazek like to have back from Saturday?
Easy. The first one Boston scored, credited to Patrice Bergeron, which popped off Mrazek’s pad high over his shoulder and landed behind him in the crease.
Bergeron, driving to the net, slid the puck into the net.
“That shouldn’t go in,” Mrazek said.
Mrazek said he and fellow goalie Jimmy Howard aren’t playing with any added pressure while the Red Wings are struggling to find offense.
“Just try at each game and play hard and try to win the game for our team,” Mrazek said. “Sometimes the puck goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. We just have to work hard and I hope it’s coming in Ottawa (Monday).”
Teemu Pulkkinen (soreness), Tomas Jurco and Brendan Smith were scratches. Pulkkinen is day-to-day and could be back against Ottawa on Monday.
… The Bruins had a moment of silence for the victims in Paris before the game — the French national anthem was played and the national colors were on display — similar to every NHL building Saturday.