Detroit — At least New Year’s Eve was a little more enjoyable for the Red Wings and their fans.
It’s been a brutal season thus far, there’s no denying that, but the Wings made New Year’s Eve an enjoyable experience with a 2-0 victory over San Jose.
Tyler Bertuzzi, celebrating getting named to the All-Star Game, scored a goal and Filip Hronek added an empty-net goal with 40 seconds left, while goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 34 shots.
“We got rewarded by playing good hockey,” Bertuzzi said.
The victory ended a six-game losing streak for the Wings, who’ve only won three of their last 21 games (3-18-2).
But this time, after playing good enough to win, the Wings actually earned two points.
“We’ve had a lot of nights where we, I don’t know if I’d say should have but could have won the game, and we never seemed to have won any of those games,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When you don’t get rewarded, it’s hard to stay with it.
“I’ll give this group credit. After the break here, they’ve done a pretty good job of coming back and having a fresh mindset and competing real hard. We came back and played hard and finally got rewarded.”
Bertuzzi's goal was in many ways a typical goal of his.
Madison Bowey took a shot from the point that Bertuzzi, nestled near the hashmarks, got his stick on and redirected the puck past goalie Martin Jones at 3:15 of the second period.
“He’s real good around the net, and a gritty player,” Bernier said “He’s tough to play against and wins battles, tips pucks in front, does all the right things.”
From there, Bernier was more than good enough to hold off the Sharks.
Bernier made a fine stop on Sharks forward Antti Suomela just before Bertuzzi's goal, with Suomela driving to the net on a partial breakaway.
Late in the third, Bernier stopped Logan Couture after a Wings turnover near the hashmarks.
The Wings have been waiting for one goaltender to take charge in net this season, and Bernier might be doing it.
Tyler Bertuzzi talks about the importance of goaltender Jonathan Bernier after Tuesday's 2-0 win. The Detroit News
“He played real well,” Blashill said. “I’m not sure what the numbers are exactly, but in the last 10 games or so, he’s played pretty well for a while. He’s done a real good job of solidifying his game.”
Said Bernier: “I felt like there’s been a few games there have been some weird bounces, but you just have to stick with it and at some point, you work hard at practice and those bounces will turn. There were a couple saves tonight I got lucky and they just hit me. That’s hockey.”
The Red Wings killed all three San Jose power plays, including one midway in the third period, with the Wings clinging to the narrow lead.
For one night, since December 14 actually, the Wings did all the things necessary to win.
“It feels real good because we played the right way, we played together,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “It does feel good. I’d be lying if it didn’t. Hopefully we can build on this. We have two big road games coming up and we need to get on a roll here and get something to hang on to.”