Shootout touch, Zetterberg’s leadership earn Wings win

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News

The Red Wings haven’t been great in a lot of areas this season but, oh, that shootout.

They’ve been incredible in the tie-breaking skill session.

Perfect, even. You can’t beat them.

They continued that perfection Thursday, defeating the Arizona Coyotes, 5-4 – including a 1-0 edge in the shootout on Gustav Nyquist’s goal, to clinch the victory.

The win pushed the Red Wings (27-31-11) to 8-0 on the season in the shootout. It also stopped a modest two-game losing streak, including a disappointing loss in Denver the night before to the worst team to the NHL-worst Avalanche.

FINAL SCORE: Red Wings 5, Coyotes 4, shootout

Goaltender Petr Mrazek (22 saves) stopped all three Coyotes shooters in overtime to earn the victory.

What the Red Wings will not like about this game is giving up a late lead.

Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun — whom the Coyotes drafted with the first-round pick they acquired for taking on Pavel Datsyuk’s contract in June — tied the game at 4 at 17:30 of the third period.

That was a huge blow, given that Henrik Zetterberg had just given the Red Wings a 4-3 lead at 13:55 with his 15th goal.

Zetterberg set up Mike Green for a goal early in the third period, giving the Red Wings a 3-2 lead with a nifty play.

Zetterberg faked a dump-in pass, then found Green skating through the ice, Green capping the play with a nice backhand goal past goaltender Mike Smith.

Green was talking about Zetterberg this week and the impact of the Red Wings’ captain in the locker room.

Especially these days, as the Red Wings have a much younger group, and the youngsters get the opportunity to watch how Zetterberg goes about business.

Thursday was another example of Zetterberg grabbing his teammates and pulling them to his level.

On an evening the Red Wings needed something positive after losing the night before in Colorado to the worst team in the league, Zetterberg wouldn’t let them lose.

But Green has seen a lot of that leadership this season.

“It’s incredible really, the process he takes every day, coming to the rink and doing the things he does to prepare himself for a game,” Green said. “Then what he does on the ice, obviously a world onto his own.

“It’s been really interesting to watch him and see his watch (as the captain), his habits and try to emulate them.”

Already having scored twice on the power play, the Red Wings gave back some of that good feeling by allowing a shorthanded third period goal.

Arizona’s Lawson Crouse kept the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Mrazek from the dot, tying the game at 3 at 7:37.

Dylan Larkin — who played one of his best games of the season — and Tomas Tatar had power-play goals.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Goligoski scored Arizona goals 2:03 apart early in the second period, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.

But unlike the previous night in Colorado, when the Avalanche rallied in similar fashion, the Red Wings quickly answered.

Tatar tied the score with his team-leading 18th goal at 4:45.

Eventually, though, the Red Wings got the game to the shootout.

And this season, the Red Wings like it when the game gets that far.