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Resurgent Wings blank division-leading Canadiens

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

 

Detroit left wing Thomas Vanek, facing, celebrates his second period goal during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Monday, January 16, 2017.  It was the only goal of the game as the Red Wings went on to defeat the Canadiens 1-0.

Detroit — If nothing else the Red Wings showed there might be still a glimmer of hope the rest of the season.

Don’t count them out just quite yet.

Monday they won their second consecutive game – for the first time since early December – defeating Atlantic Division-leading Montreal 1-0.

This, about 48 hours after soundly defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

So, there is hope, if the Red Wings can sustain this level of play.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 1, Canadiens 0

“It shows what we talk about and preach, that when we play the right way and we get to the net and get out of our zone quicker, we can beat anyone,” said Thomas Vanek, who scored the game’s lone goal late in the second period. “That’s a great team over there (Montreal) and we frustrated them, stuck with the game plan, and (got) a great 1-0 win.”

The two consecutive victories were the first consecutive wins since Dec. 4-6 (against the New York Islanders and Winnipeg). It was the first time the Wings’ had won two consecutive regulation victories since, incredibly, Oct. 22-25 (San Jose and Carolina).

But with wins over Pittsburgh (Saturday, 6-3) and Montreal, two of the best teams in the East, there is suddenly some hope for the Red Wings (19-19-6, 44 points).

“We’ve played pretty well over the last several games, I wouldn’t say just the last two because we won them,” said goaltender Jared Coreau, who earned his second shutout stopping 18 shots. “I’ve seen us play real well over the last few weeks in certain games, certain situations.

“It’s just a matter of time before we start putting complete games together.”

What coach Jeff Blashill enjoyed most was the defensive performance.

Limiting Montreal (27-12-6, 60 points) to only 18 shots, but also the lack of many quality chances made for a quality defensive effort.

“We were real solid defensively most of the game,” Blashill said. “They had some push in the second (period) and a couple of flurries in the third, but overall we were solid defensively. All six defensemen played real well.

“Neither team had tons of (scoring) chances. We created a good amount, we probably missed the net too much, ,but we have to make sure over the long haul we’re good defensively and we were good defensively tonight.”

What also was encouraging was the fact it was two completely different wins against two talented, but different teams.

Pittsburgh was wide-open, offensive minded, and Montreal is just the opposite.

“Montreal is very structured and tough to create against them,” center Frans Nielsen said. “You know you have to work for your chances out there and we did the same to them.

“We didn’t give up too many chances at all and it was good to see.”

Vanek scored at 18 minutes 14 seconds of the second period, earning his team-leading 12th goal.

Danny DeKeyser had the puck at the top of the slot and lifted a shot toward the net.

Vanek was battling for position at the side of the crease with defenseman Alexei Emelin, and DeKeyser’s shot bounced off Vanek and off the pad of goalie Carey Price, into the net.

It was also the ninth point in the last six games (five goals, four assists) for the red-hot Vanek.

“He’s done a real good job in front of the net,” said Coreau of Vanek, who has been impressive deflecting pucks. “He was right there in front of the net against (Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre) Fleury (Saturday) and this one, too, it was going wide and it hit his leg.

“It’s a hard place to play and you’re going to get your bumps and bruises, but you get rewarded and he’s testament to that.”