Puck bounces Red Wings' way in shootout win over Caps
Detroit — Maybe it was time for the Red Wings to get a break.
In Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the league-leading Washington Capitals, the Red Wings got one — although it took until the shootout to decide the outcome.
In the shootout, the Red Wings outscored Washington 2-1 with Henrik Zetterberg scoring the clincher — Zetterberg is 3-for-3 on shootouts this season.
The victory ended a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) for the Red Wings (23-25-10, 56 points).
“We feel like we’ve done some real good stuff, but we didn’t win,” said coach Jeff Blashill of recent games. “You have to get rewarded at some point and tonight we got rewarded. Our process over the last month has been real good, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get rewarded.
“But you have to keep grinding.”
The Red Wings, incidentally, are a perfect 7-0 in shootouts this season.
“Just catching up to the years before,” said Tomas Tatar, recalling the misery the Red Wings have gone through in shootouts previous seasons.
The Capitals were coming off a five-day bye week — they practiced back in Washington the day before but have had no game competition — and there were enough segments in Saturday’s game in which they looked it.
But the Capitals worked themselves into the game and Daniel Winnik tied it 2-2 at 15:12 of the third period.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek had been marvelous, especially in the third period, but left a juicy rebound off T.J. Oshie’s shot and Winnik batted the puck into a vacant net for his eighth goal.
“The way the game ended, Petr had some huge saves and it (the puck) hits the stick and goes in, that’s a tough goal,” Zetterberg said. “But to get that extra point was big for us and now we have to build on it.”
Mrazek stopped 34 shots, Frans Nielsen (power play) and Tatar scored goals, and the Red Wings penalty kill stopped five Washington power plays (three in the third period).
On Washington power play, Mrazek made a great leg save on Justin Williams in the slot with a little more than six minutes left.
“You can’t ask for more from Petr,” Zetterberg said.
Washington’s Zach Sanford cut the Red Wings lead to 2-1 at 18:36 of the second period.
Sanford scored on a rush off a Thomas Vanek turnover near the blue line, with the Capitals quickly going on the offensive.
Until then, the Red Wings controlled the play.
Tatar gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead at 3:33 of the second period with his 13th goal.
Anthony Mantha stripped defenseman John Carlson of the puck, turning the play into a 3-on-2 rush.
Mantha found Henrik Zetterberg, who left a drop pass for Tatar trailing up the middle.
The Red Wings opened scoring with Nielsen converting on the power play.
Nielsen got the puck at the side of the net and hit the post on his first attempt.
But the puck bounced directly back to him, and Nielsen lifted the rebound over goalie Braden Holtby for his 11th goal at 8:13.
The Red Wings are in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.
“We don’t have another choice but to win a game,” said Tatar, addressing the Red Wings’ flickering playoff hopes. “We have to keep winning to keep the (playoff) streak alive and to become a team that makes the playoffs.
“We know we’re in a tough spot and it’s going to be real hard.”