One-goal games embolden Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

San Jose, Calif. — Another one-goal game, another victory.

If it feels like the Red Wings are playing a ton of one-goal games, they do.

Thursday’s 2-1 victory over the Sharks was the 26th one-goal game for the Red Wings, who are 16-3-7 in those games. They have played 41 games overall.

“So many games by one goal,” Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek said. “(Whether we are) winning or losing, we have to be focused for 60 minutes.”

It’s safe to say the Red Wings are getting comfortable playing in close games.

But ...

“It would be nice if we had a little insurance, but the way it’s going right now, that’s just now how it is,” defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “We just have to battle it out and if we win 2-1, we’re happy with that.”

DeKeyser, however, isn’t surprised by the number of one-goal games.

“The way the league is, everybody is so tight,” he said. “You look at the standings, there’s not much of a difference.”

Coach Jeff Blashill sees the Red Wings gaining confidence in close games, clamping down on opponents.

Detroit Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the third period.

Wings' DeKeyser discovers he can score, too

“It’s one of those things the more you’re in it and the more you have success, it builds confidence,” Blashill said. “Early in the season we had given up some (games) but we’ve done a good job of finding ways to limit chances against when we (have the lead).

“You learn through experience both in the winning and losing, and we’ve done that.”

Pulling the plug

Maybe it was the return of Drew Miller. Maybe it was simply tweaking things and getting key saves from Mrazek.

Whatever the case, the Red Wings killed all three Sharks power plays, a crucial reason the Red Wings were in position to steal the win late.

“The penalty kill was really good, some of our best of the season,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “It carried over from the last game (the Red Wings were 2-for-2 against the Devils).”

Said Blashill: “The penalty kill was a huge difference. Especially in that first period, those two (kills) right away, they did a great job and with Glennie (Luke Glendening) in the box. Obviously, Miller brings another real good penalty killer to the mix. But we’ve been using Abby (Abdelkader) a little more and he did a good job, and Helmer (Darren Helm) and (Riley) Sheahan did, too.”

Nerves of steel

Mrazek made two critical saves with the game tied, then watched Abdelkader score the winner right after making a toe save on a shot by Sharks forward Joel Ward.

Blashill isn’t surprised seeing Mrazek raise his level.

“Petr doesn’t get nervous,” Blashill said. “The bigger the moment, it doesn’t affect his game. He just continues to play. He enjoys being in those situations.”