Detroit — Considering where the Red Wings were early in this game, they’ll take the end result with absolute glee.
What a comeback. The Red Wings rallied from two three-goal first period deficits Wednesday to defeat the Boston Bruins 6-5 in a shootout.
Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in the shootout, which the Red Wings won 2-1 — the sixth shootout win for the Red Wings this season without a loss.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek made two excellent saves in overtime, including one on Brad Marchand on a breakaway, to keep it tied.
With the victory, the Red Wings (20-19-6) crept to within six points of second-place Boston (23-19-6) in the Atlantic Division.
And after that awful opening 20 minutes, the Red Wings loved the way the entire evening ended up.
“It’s disappointing to give them a point, we wanted to come out of here with two points and them have none,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “But given the start, it was a big two points compared to none.
“We said at the beginning of the game if we wanted to finish in front of them we have to beat them. We found a way to beat them.”
Coach Jeff Blashill on his team's rally Wednesday over Boston.
As for the shootout success?
“We got some good shooters and goaltenders (are) stopping the puck,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “So it’s nice to see that we can find a way to get two points, when it looks like this today.
“And when it goes all the way to shootouts, that we can find a way to win, that’s good.”
The Red Wings rallied from deficits of 3-0, 4-1 after one period, scored three goals to tie the score, only to see Boston retake the lead 21 seconds later.
Then, Gustav Nyquist tied it at 5 with his seventh goal at 16:56 of the third period.
“We know it’s a huge game going in, a team we’re chasing, and down 4-1 at home, it can’t happen,” Nyquist said. “It was good to battle our way back.”
Gustav Nyquist on the Red Wings' dramatic comeback.
Several players said Blashill let the Red Wings know with choice words the first period effort wasn’t good enough.
“It’s a great group, we have tons of pride in this room, tons of character,” Blashill said. “It’s just the reality of life, the first period wasn’t real good and it’s my job to make sure to let them know.
“Our first period was not good. We have to be much better than that in Buffalo (Friday). You can’t spot those types of periods. Our guys know that.
“But I was impressed with the fact we were able to mount an attack in the second period, and momentum is a funny thing and we got momentum and stuck with it through the third period.”
What was Blashill’s basic message after the first period?
“Win battles,” Blashill said. “We got out-battled all over the ice. We needed to skate and win battles, that’s it.”
Dylan Larkin scored in the first period, and Xavier Ouellet, Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar scored second-period goals.
Tatar tied the score at 4 on a breakway goal, only to see Adam McQuaid’s deflected goal restore Boston's lead 21 seconds later.
“We didn’t start on time, that’s for sure,” Tatar said. “But we battled, ended up tying the game, and we’re real happy for the two points after a start like that.”
Goaltender Jared Coreau got the start for the Red Wings but was pulled after allowing three goals — two by Frank Vatrano’s (one a power play), and Brandon Carlo shorthanded — on eight shots in 8:50.
“That had nothing to do with Jared’s play,” Blashill said of pulling Coreau in favor of Mrazek. “We weren’t ready to play and they outcompeted us. As a result we were down, so I just made the change.
“Petr came in and played excellent. Petr has been playing real good, he just hasn’t had the results he wanted.”