Detroit — The Red Wings have cleaned up their game, are playing with poise and confidence, and the results are different from the start to this season.
Thursday they scored three times after New Jersey took an early third-period lead and rallied for a 4-3 win, the Wings' third consecutive victory.
Admit it, about two weeks ago, the thought of the Wings winning consecutive games seemed nearly impossible.
Now, they're doing it and looking like a structured, competitive hockey team.
BOX SCORE:Red Wings 4, Devils 3
“We’ve faced adversity and that’s never a bad thing,” said forward Justin Abdelkader, whose shorthanded goal broke a 2-2 tie. “We’ve grown as a hockey team, we’ve learned how to win in this league and what it takes.”
Devils defenseman Will Butcher mishandled a puck at the blue line and Luke Glendening went off on a 2-on-1 rush with Abdelkader. Glendening snapped a hard shot that goalie Cory Schneider stopped, but left the rebound to the side of him near the crease and Abdelkader tapped it in.
For the night, the Wings had two power-play and two shorthanded goals.
“Those are always uplifting,” Abdelkader said. “Whether it’s goals or killing penalties off, specialty teams can create momentum. We just have to stick with it. We’re doing a lot of good things.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard preserved the late lead, while stopping 25 shots. Howard stopped Kyle Palmieri on a one-timer in the circle with 1:08 left and the Wings holding a one-goal lead.
“Guys are finding their niche,” Howard said. “As a whole, our team is starting to play well in the offensive zone holding on to the puck.”
That was something coach Jeff Blashill touched on, as the Wings have begun to control the puck and exhaust opponents.
“We’ve started to build a bit of an identity in the offensive zone, doing a good job of grinding teams,” Blashill said. “Even when it doesn’t create a ton of chances, it’s a grind and we’ve been hard at the net.
“You end up your best defense is playing in the other team’s end and it didn’t show itself for a while, but it’s starting to show itself now.”
After a Jonathan Ericsson crosschecking penalty at 19:11 and a pulled goalie gave the Devils a two-man advantage, Glendening won the faceoff and Trevor Daley's shorthanded, empty-net goal gave the Wings a 2-goal lead.
Marcus Johansson scored with 4 seconds left to make the score 4-3.
Coach Jeff Blashill talks about the Red Wings' recent success, including a three-game winning streak. The Detroit News
Glendening assisted on Abdelkader’s goal, was plus-2, with a team-high seven hits, and was 55 percent in the faceoff circle in 16:45. But it was a clear-cut victory in a fight against the Devils’ Mirco Mueller that also sparked the Wings.
“Glennie’s just a hard-nosed player,” Abdelkader said. “He’ll stand up for himself. That got us going on the bench, and got the crowd going. It was old-school.”
Justin Abdelkader talks about the success of the Wings' special teams. The Detroit News
Martin Frk and Michael Rasmussen both had power-play goals — the first goal for Frk this season, and Rasmussen’s second in two games.
After going through a long stretch of losing in the first 10 games — only winning once — the Wings have begun playing with confidence.
“We haven’t had our full team for sure,” Blashill said. “We went through a stretch we had a lot of defensemen out, now we have a full line out up front. But the guys keep finding ways to win.”