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Comeback win puts Red Wings in positive frame of mind

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Thomas Vanek celebrates with Frans Nielsen after Nielsen tied the game 3-3 late in the third period to force overtime.

Now, it’s back to hockey.

And the Red Wings do just that Tuesday when they host Buffalo in the first day after a three-day holiday break.

The Red Wings (15-15-4, 34 points) won two of their last three games before the break, which considering their recent struggles, counted as a hot streak.

With all of their next seven games on the road, it’s crucial to get on a positive roll with this game against the last-place Sabres (12-13-8, 32 points) — who trail the Red Wings by only two points.

“It’s nice,” said forward Frans Nielsen after the Red Wings defeated Florida 4-3 in a shootout Friday, the last game before having the weekend off. “We won two of the last three here and … not kind of not feel great about ourselves but a little better at least.

“We’re starting to play now.”

There was one significant positive sign in the victory over Florida — which was the Red Wings’ ability to rebound from a two-goal deficit to open the third period, rally, and earn victory.

It was the first time, after 10 consecutive losses, the Red Wings have bounced back from a deficit entering the third period to grab a win.

That ability to persevere and keep with it is what coach Jeff Blashill is looking for.


Red Wings go to 5-0 in shootouts with win over Panthers

“You continue to grind and grind and grind and we were able to do that and able to find two points (in Florida),” Blashill said. “It’s a real positive.

“We want to keep grinding and keep accumulating as many good games as possible and as many points as possible. There are no easy games. From day one, every game has been like a playoff game. We have to keep finding ways to be as good as we can and improve as a team and get points.”

Reunion time

Players from the 1997 Stanley Cup-winning team will be on hand for a 20th anniversary season.

Broadcasters Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond will moderate a pregame ceremony at 7:30 p.m. that’ll be televised live on Fox Sports Detroit.

The Stanley Cup was the Red Wings' first in 42 years. A majority of players from 1997 team are expected to attend, the Red Wings said.

Returning players

With no practice Monday, the Red Wings lineup for the Sabres game remains a question mark.

It’s likely forward Darren Helm (dislocated shoulder) and defenseman Brendan Smith (knee) could be ready to play.

Helm was hurt Nov. 15 when he was upended and landed square on his left shoulder against Tampa. Smith sprained his knee Nov. 26 against Montreal.

Both have increased their workloads and level of participation in practice during the last week and should be cleared in time to play the Sabres.

By the end of this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see forwards Justin Abdelkader (knee, out since Dec. 1), Tyler Bertuzzi (sprained ankle, Nov. 25), and defenseman Alexey Marchenko (shoulder, Dec. 13) close to returning.

Ice chips

The Red Wings enter the post-holiday break ranked last, 30th of 30 teams, on the power play (11.9 percent).

That helped contribute to an offense that ranked 27th in goals per game (2.29).

…The Buffalo game is another chance to improve upon a disappointing home record. The Red Wings are 7-9-3 at Joe Louis Arena, 2-9-3 over their last 14 games.

...It wouldn’t be surprising to see Blashill go back to goaltender Jared Coreau after Coreau stopped 31 shots, including two in the shootout, in the victory over Florida, over Petr Mrazek (9-7-3, 3.06 GAA, .899 save percentage).
The Florida start was only the second of Coreau’s career.

Sabres at Red Wings

Faceoff: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit / 97.1 FM

Outlook: The Sabres lost their last two before the holiday break and are 3-4-3 over their last 10 games ... Buffalo has a weaker offense (2.12, ranked 28th) than Detroit’s (2.29, 27th) … D Rasmus Ristolainen (23 points) has starred.