Red Wings win behind Abdelkader’s late goal
San Jose, Calif. — Petr Mrazek continues to make timely saves when his team needs them — and the Red Wings are taking advantage.
The Red Wings defeated San Jose 2-1 Thursday on Justin Abdelkader’s third-period, tie-breaking goal — just moments after Mrazek made a spectacular save on Joel Ward in close keeping the score tied.
Mrazek robbed Joonas Donskoi shortly before the Ward save, two big saves keeping the game tied and giving his teammates an opportunity to swipe another victory.
“He’s played great for us, especially here lately,” Abdelkader said of Mrazek, who stopped 35 Sharks shots. “Both guys (including Jimmy Howard) have stepped in when they needed to and right now we’ve been riding Petr and he’s been playing great.
“We just have to do a better job in front of him.”
Mrazek downplayed the save on Ward.
“Lucky save,” Mrazek said. “It hit my stick and then we score a goal. It’s a nice save but if they had scored it would have been a different game.”
Said coach Jeff Blashill: “It’s a fine line between winning and losing in this league and that was a huge save in a big moment. He’s done a good job of that throughout his career.”
After the save on Ward, Abdelkader whistled his 13th goal from the high slot as the Red Wings (21-13-7) won their third consecutive game, all on the road, following a three-game losing streak.
And first with Jim Harbaugh in attendance, the Michigan football coach taking in the game while near his former home in the Bay Area.
The Sharks (18-18-2) have lost three of their last four games.
“It’s always a tough place to play here,” Abdelkader said. “It’s always a lively building and they play well here. It’s good for us to find a way to win. Obviously we have to play better but we’ll take the two points.”
Danny DeKeyser and Ward traded first-period goals but it was the Red Wings’ three penalty kills — two in the first period and the other early in the second — that was another key component of the victory.
“We didn’t give up a lot and it kind of gave us momentum there,” DeKeyser said.
DeKeyser put the Red Wings ahead 1-0 with his third goal.
Dylan Larkin got the puck along the boards and centered it to Henrik Zetterberg, who found DeKeyser jumping into the play.
DeKeyser skated to near the dot and lifted a shot that flew past goalie Martin Jones’ shoulder and just under the crossbar at 9:16.
“Any time you can get that fourth guy into the rush in today’s game, that’s how you produce a lot of offense,” DeKeyser said. “I saw an opening there, I went after it, and it worked out.”
But it didn’t take long for the Sharks to answer.
Patrick Marleau won the faceoff for the Sharks, and passed the puck to Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the point
Vlasic found defensive partner Brent Burns in the high slot and Burns — who has one of the hardest shots in the NHL — fired a shot that Ward got his stick on and deflected past Mrazek for his 11th goal at 10:57.
With the one-goal victory the Red Wings moved to an impressive 16-3-7 in one-goal decisions, earning 39 of a possible 52 points.
“It’s one of those things, the more you’re in it and the more you have success, it builds confidence,” Blashill said.