'We want to win:' Resilient Red Wings edge Ducks
Detroit — They’re not giving up, apparently, no matter the odds these Red Wings face.
The remaining games are diminishing rapidly, and chances of making the playoffs aren’t great, but the Red Wings are making sure they hang around.
Tuesday, against an equally desperate Anaheim team, the Red Wings took a bunch of Ducks’ blows but stayed tough and defeated the Ducks 2-1.
The Red Wings (23-23-9, 55 points) are eight points behind the final wild-card spot in the East, with three teams between them and only 27 games left.
But they’re not giving up.
“We want to win games,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who stopped 32 shots. “That’s what we’re focusing on, is winning games and getting points and giving ourselves a chance down the stretch to get in.”
The Feb. 26 trade deadline is fast approaching and there are considerable rumors the Red Wings will be sellers.
But players are holding out hope they can persuade general manager Ken Holland and his staff to keep from sending away any current players.
“I hope so,” Howard said. “As long as we work hard and do things the right way and get results, maybe we can force management’s hand.
“Honestly, we have a good group of guys in here and we all enjoy going out and competing. We want to pull the switch here.”
For coach Jeff Blashill, the task remains to win as many games as possible.
“We’ll see how many games we win,” said Blashill, when asked about keeping management from being sellers. “Our job as coaches and players is to win as much as you can. We come home from this (upcoming) road trip with lots of wins, we’ll be in a lot better spot.
“Our coaching staff and players can see we’ve played good hockey. Let’s just stay with it and play the type of hockey that we have to play to be successful. We have to go to Tampa (Thursday) and we’ve had moments of playing them well.
“Let’s go to Tampa and find a way to win.”
Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen scored Red Wings goals, while Adam Henrique answered for Anaheim (27-20-11, 65 points).
Henrique scored his 17th goal at 16 minutes, 6 seconds of the third period, cutting the Red Wings' lead to 2-1 and causing many to think about another late-game collapse.
But Darren Helm drew a Ducks tripping penalty at 17:39 giving the Red Wings a late power play, and they secured a victory.
“Grind out a win,” Larkin said. “It was a hard game, they played heavy and had the puck a lot. It was a tough game but Jimmy played awesome, and our team defense got a lot of practice, but we stuck with it.”
After two disastrous nights on the penalty kill, the Red Wings killed all four Anaheim power plays to solidify the victory.
“Good one for the PK, not sure if we deserved it if it wasn’t for Howie,” Nielsen said. “They’re a big, heavy team and kind of came out and played the way they wanted. We figured it out the rest of the way.”
There were an increasing number of fans who felt Friday’s loss in Brooklyn to the New York Islanders would be the beginning of the Red Wings’ final fall.
The way they lost it, late and in disbelieving fashion, would likely crush their psyche.
But, instead, the Red Wings showed character in pulling out a victory Sunday in Washington — although losing another third-period lead and forced to go to overtime — and came out Tuesday and handled a tough Anaheim team.
“It was a muddy track out there,” Blashill said. “It was hard to get space both ways. We didn’t give up a whole lot of real chances. It was just a tough, tough game, so you have to compete like crazy and we competed pretty hard.”