Red Wings coach on how team was fortunate to get win over the Islanders after playing poorly in the first two periods. Ted Kulfan
New York — There have been games this season where the Red Wings played good hockey and weren’t rewarded with victories.
Tuesday, they didn’t play great — especially after 40 minutes — but they did enough in the third period to salvage a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders.
It was a positive a way to begin a four-game road trip around the holiday break, defeating a robust offensive team.
“That’s the way it goes, there’s always games like these during a long season,” said Dylan Larkin, who along with Henrik Zetterberg each had three assists. “Games where we should have had (wins) and games that we shouldn’t have.
“I don’t know if that’s the case tonight. We played a good third period, but we only had 10 shots after the second (period) — I don’t know if that’s homer stats – but we came out and played and shut them down and didn’t give them much at all in the third (period).”
Defensemen Trevor Daley and Mike Green scored third-period goals, breaking a 3-3 tie, and Luke Glendening added an empty-netter sending the Red Wings (13-13-7, 33 points) to their second consecutive victory.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek withstood a barrage, stopping 34 shots in his first complete game since Nov. 9 — and first win since Nov. 5.
Red Wings captain says team was lucky to snatch win after playing poorly early. Ted Kulfan
“We talked about it (after the second period), it wasn’t good enough, our guys understand,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We weren’t good enough. Through the first two periods, we were fortunate to be in the game.
“I will say this. We came out in the third and played great. We really played hard, made a lot of plays, skated, and won a lot of puck battles.
“We’ve played really good games this year where we haven’t won. This wasn’t our best game, but we found a way to win a game and we have to do that also.”
Both Daley and Green scored goals off the rush, as the Red Wings pushed the play after creating turnovers.
Blashill has wanted the defense to join the play and be active since the start of training camp.
“We’re starting to find our balance,” said Green, of when to join the rush or staying back. “You stay the course and continue to do things right. You don’t want to force anything.”
Martin Frk, Gustav Nyquist (power play), and Anthony Mantha added Red Wings goals.
Anders Lee, Ryan Pulock (power play) and Josh Bailey (power play) scored for the Islanders (18-13-3, 39 points).
The Red Wings were outshot 23-4 in the second period — 32-10 after two periods — and allowed two power-play goals.
But a leaky Islanders defense, along with the lack of key stops from Greiss, kept the Red Wings in the game.
Mrazek battled in net to keep the Red Wings close.
“I’d like to take that shot keeper back with us because we’ll know it’ll be a real advantage back at home for sure,” said Blashill, who doubted the shot total, as did many Red Wings. “I walked off the bench and thought, ‘Boy, that didn’t look right.' Now, I also didn’t think we were good enough and Petr was very good.
“One thing Petr has been about is finding ways to win. We need depth in this locker room and a lot of guys going. It adds to our depth when he plays at that level.”