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Helm, Richards power Wings to dramatic OT triumph

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Detroit center Darren Helm celebrates his third-period goal Saturday.

Detroit – Darren Helm’s two goals, on a team-leading eight shots, powered the Red Wings to an important 3-2 overtime win against the Rangers Saturday. It was a game the Wings dominated for long stretches but never led until Helm’s winner.

The Wings tilted the ice against goalie Henrik Lundqvist for much of the game, outshooting the Rangers 43-25. But converting their ample chances proved difficult.

In addition to Helm’s ninth and 10th goals of the season, Brad Richards got his ninth, in the final minute of regulation.

Danny DeKeyser got two assists, for 12 on the season, raising his point total to 20.

Niklas Kronwall was injured in the second period and did not return. The Red Wings announced that it was a lower-body injury. Kronwall said he did not think it was serious.

Richards, who played 210 games for the Rangers from 2011-14, tied the game at two at 19:28 of the third period. The power-play goal came after Jeff Blashill pulled Petr Mrazek for the extra attacker, to make it 6-on-4.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Rangers 2 (OT)

The Rangers narrowly missed the empty net twice before the Wings entered their zone, Henrik Zetterberg carrying the puck on the left wing. Zetterberg put a wrist shot on net, and it struck Justin Abdelkader on the left hip.

The deflection carried 10 feet to Lundqvist’s left, where Richards scooped it up and fired a wrist shot into the net.

It was Zetterberg’s team-leading 31st assist of the season.

“I heard a lot of people telling me to shoot for about five or six seconds, but there was so much traffic, so I couldn’t get anything through,” said Richards, who now has 22 points.

“So, I was waiting for ‘Z’ to pop out, and he got something through – well, technically not through. It still hit Abby. But I kind of snuck back there, and everybody was looking at ‘Z’ and the puck came to me.

“Those are fun, when you see the open net.”

Wings fans would celebrate more, minutes later.

The Wings were all over the Rangers again in the overtime period, with their team speed allowing them to possess the puck and continually attack. As usual, Dylan Larkin’s pace predominated.

But it was Helm who scored.

After the puck came to Pavel Datsyuk, from DeKeyser, Datsyuk fired a wrist shot toward the net, where Helm set a screen. The shot deflected off Helm’s right thigh, behind Lundqvist, at 3:03 of overtime.

With the crowd in a tizzy, the Red Wings poured off the bench and mobbed Helm.

Helm’s line, with Luke Glendening and Richards, frequently tested Lundqvist and the Rangers defense.

“I just tried to create opportunities,” Helm said, of his two-goal, eight-shot performance.

“The guys I’m playing with are doing a great job of forechecking and finding the pucks and getting them to me. I think we’re just making an effort to put pucks in the net, and create chaos.”

Only Helm had more shots in a game for the Red Wings this season; he fired nine Feb. 12 against the Avalanche.

After he scored, Lundqvist skated to the bench and nearly used his stick like an axe on the dasher, before thinking better of it.

Earlier in the game, fans expressed outrage when Lundqvist clearly appeared to dive in his crease, when Abdelkader skated near him, amid a scramble in the third period.

While replays showed no apparent contact between the players, Abdelkader was called for goaltender interference. But the Wings killed the penalty, 3:10 before Richard’s tying goal.

The Red Wings began strong and sustained a dominant first period, outchancing the Rangers and out-shooting them 15-7. But Lundqvist, returning after missing three games with a neck injury, was both strong and lucky. The Wings hit posts twice, and otherwise failed to finish on many quality chances.

Then, with less than a minute left in the period, and the Wings about to exit their zone, Derek Stepan stripped the puck from DeKeyser from behind, turned abruptly and skated in on Mrazek. Mrazek stopped a shot and appeared to stop a rebound, before Stepan got to the second rebound and had the goalie at his mercy.

Despite throwing the puck continually at Lundqvist and generating lots of chances, the Wings were held off the scoreboard until 4:28 of the third period, when Helm scored, to tie it.

DeKeyser shot the puck into the Rangers zone, and it bounced awkwardly off the glass or boards. Dan Boyle, the Rangers veteran defenseman, had trouble playing it.

Luke Glendening swept in, took possession and head-manned the puck to Helm, on his right. Helm went to the net and roofed a shot past Lundqvist.

Chris Kreider put the Rangers ahead, 2-1, at 15:33 of the third period, when he tipped Keith Yandle’s shot from the blue line on a power play.