Dylan Larkin talks about playing despite illness, and finally earning a victory. The Detroit News
Detroit — The Red Wings did something they hadn’t done since Nov. 12, exactly a month.
They won a game.
Seriously, they did. With Robby Fabbri (two goals, one assist), Filip Zadina (one goal, two assists) and Filip Hronek (goal, two assists) leading the way on Thursday, the Wings ended a 12-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory over Winnipeg.
“It’s huge,” said forward Dylan Larkin, who played over 20 minutes despite an illness. “The way we played tonight, I feel it’s repeatable. Our defense did a great job moving the pucks and our power play was on tonight, it made it hard on (Winnipeg goalie Connor) Hellebuyck.
“We played physical and together and there was more talk on the ice between the five guys and the goalies and it really helped our game moving up the ice. We had some real chances and it feels to play that way and get rewarded.”
Five NHL coaches have been fired, the Lions haven’t won a game, and baseball free agents have earned a billion dollars, but the Wings kept losing.
That all changed Thursday, with the Wings finally getting some puck luck, and a dedicated effort for 60 minutes.
“We had puck luck for sure, and we haven’t had much of that,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We had some of it go against us but it has a way of evening out.
“We did a real good job of playing smart hockey. We created pressure without giving up a whole bunch of opportunities.”
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 shots, enabling the Wings to split the back-to-back set with the Jets (who won Tuesday in Winnipeg, 5-1).
Fabbri scored twice (one a power play), and Zadina (power play), Darren Helm and Filip Hronek scored for the Wings, while Kyle Connor (Shelby Township) had both Jets goals.
Hronek clinched it with his empty-net goal, his seventh goal, shooting literally from one end of the rink into an empty net.
“He was going to clear the puck no matter what,” Blashill said. “A lot of us were happy to see it go in. I wasn’t sure if it was going to stay in the building.”
Many of the breaks that haven’t been going the Wings’ way this season certainly did in this one.
Robby Fabbri talks about getting under the skin of the Winnipeg Jets. The Detroit News
Helm opened the scoring with a breakaway goal, his fifth goal, at 7:49 of the first period.
Helm gathered a loose puck that defenseman Nathan Beaulieu bobbled away — and couldn’t retrieve or catch Helm as the linesman nearest Beaulieu screened him.
Fabbri then made it 2-0 with his first of the evening, on the power play, at 13:47 of the first period. Zadina worked the puck into the zone, backhanded a pass to Fabbri, who shot the puck at net and saw it go in off defenseman Neal Pionk past Hellebuyck (Commerce).
Fabbri made it 3-0 at 3:35 of the second period with his ninth of the season — eighth since being acquired by the Wings — again putting the puck on net, and seeing Pionk deflect the puck past Hellebuyck.
“Some early Christmas gifts there,” Fabbri said.
Connor came back with two Winnipeg goals, both between the hash marks, to cut the lead to 3-2 midway in the second period.
But it was Zadina, who drew assists on both Fabbri goals, who gave the Wings some breathing room with his first goal of the season.
Zadina snapped a shot from the dot that beat Hellebuyck at 19:36 of the second period.
That’s six points (one goal, five assists) in eight games for Zadina with the Wings since he was recalled from Grand Rapids.
“I see him gaining more confidence as each game goes and he plays,” Larkin said.