'Statement win': Red Wings break out of doldrums in 5-2 victory over Wild
St. Paul, Minn. — If ever a team needed a result like this one, it was the Red Wings.
Mired in a long and frustrating stretch of losing, the Red Wings surprised the Minnesota Wild Saturday, 5-2.
Tyler Bertuzzi had three goals — his first career hat trick coming in his 100th career game — and Thomas Vanek scored two goals as the Red Wings won for only the third time in the last 16 games (3-10-3).
The Wings (17-23-7) outshot Minnesota 37-19, including 21-2 in the second period, an indication of the Wild’s indifference in this game — and the Wings’ dominance.
“We’ve been playing good hockey, we just hadn’t gotten the results,” Vanek said. “As a group, we’ve been staying positive and saying the right things. If we play like this, as we have been, we’ll get more wins than losses. We just have to keep it up.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 17 shots in a relatively uneventful night.
Vanek, who has played for the Wild and collegiately at Minnesota (his family still lives in the Minneapolis area), broke a 2-2 tie with a slap shot from the top of the slot at 15:10 of the second period, his second of the game and ninth of the season.
“My college friends, they’ve seen me enough, they don’t even come anymore,” said Vanek, of playing in his adopted hometown. “Now, my kids are getting older, they have friends who are into hockey, so they come to the game and they’re excited, so it’s fun to score for those little boys and show them the old man can still score a couple.”
Bertuzzi then scored his second goal, a deflection early in the period just as his first goal, redirecting Dylan Larkin’s shot at 47 seconds into the third period, giving the Wings a 4-2 lead.
Bertuzzi completed the hat trick with a backhander in front of goalie Devan Dubnyk, his 13th goal, making it 5-2.
Berutzzi also scored 24 seconds into the game, giving the Wings a quick 1-0 lead.
“We’ve been playing well, just a couple of tough bounces or whatever you want to call it,” Bertuzzi said. “Tonight, we bought in and just kept doing things right, we’ve been doing it before, and tonight it paid off.”
Luke Kunin and Nino Niederreiter (power play) scored for the Wild (22-19-3).
Niederreiter scored just 17 seconds into the second period, one-timing a shot past Howard, and giving the Wild a brief 2-1 lead.
But it was short-lived, as Vanek tied it 28 seconds later, putting back his own rebound past Dubnyk.
“We did a good job of turning the momentum back after they scored the two,” Blashill said. “We did a real good job of that. We defended well and part of that is playing in the offensive zone.”
The mood in the locker room was so drastically different from recent nights. REO Speedwagon was loudly being played again — it’s a staple after victories — there was laughter, and voices were actually audible.
“It’s a statement win for us,” Larkin said. “Reassurance we can play, that was one of the hottest teams we were playing against, and we can play with some of the best teams in the league.”
Blashill said there were no team meetings to discuss the hard-luck losses, no extra mention of the losing streak.
“Our group understands we have to stay with it,” Blashill said. “Understand that we have to keep finding ways to put ourselves in position to win games and make the critical plays at critical moments.”