Effective penalty kill pushes Wings over the top

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Goaltender Petr Mrazek has been outstanding and the offense has been scoring.

But a bigger reason the Red Wings have won three straight has been the penalty kill.

Wednesday, the Red Wings killed one-of-seven in a 3-1 victory that included a 27-second two-man Ottawa advantage.

“Those are usually big moments in games, the 5-on-3s,” said forward Darren Helm, a key component of the penalty kill unit. “If a team scores, they get momentum. If a team doesn’t, then the team holding them usually gets the momentum.

“That was a tough job against a good team. ... Guys were blocking shots, Petr was great in net, and those are such important things for a successful PK.”

The last three games, the Red Wings have killed 15-of-17 penalties. The last 10 games, they’ve killed 33-of-39.

“We’ve talked it about a lot, how we want to have a great penalty kill, it’s real important as we head down the stretch,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Our penalty kill was great (Wednesday).”

Still, Blashill wouldn’t mind it if the Red Wings didn’t have to kill so many penalties . They allowed four power plays in the third period Wednesday.

“Some nights are like that,” Blashill said. “Our penalty kill, just the confidence, continued to grow. In the end, the penalty kill won the game.”

Personnel moves

Danny DeKeyser (bruised knee) is expected to play Friday against the Avalanche after taking a Dion Phaneuf slap shot flush on the side of the knee early in the third period Wednesday.

He returned to play one shift, but Blashill said DeKeyser couldn’t put enough weight on his leg to continue playing.

The Red Wings are down one defenseman, Niklas Kronwall (knee), who is eligible to come off the injured list Sunday but unlikely to play until later next week.

... The Red Wings sent forward Joakim Andersson to Grand Rapids. He was a healthy scratch the last three games after being replaced by Andreas Athanasiou (two assists).

Ice chips

The Red Wings were called for their NHL-leading 10th too many men on the ice penalty Wednesday.

“It’s something you don’t want to happen,” Blashill said. “Ultimately that responsibility falls on me. We’ll continue to work on that and make sure we address it.”

... After the five-game home stand ends Sunday against the Bruins, the Red Wings play eight of their next 10 on the road.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Avalanche at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 Friday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Avalanche has climbed into the Western Conference playoff picture behind a dangerous offense, led by Cs Matt Duchene (43 points, 24 goals) and Nathan MacKinnon (43 points, 25 assists).