Red Wings cite goaltending, team toughness after first win of season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings earned their first victory of the season Saturday and much of the credit can go to Thomas Greiss.

The veteran goaltender stopped 40 shots, many of them in crucial situations with the Wings clinging to the lead, as the Wings defeated the Vancouver Canucks, 3-1.

"He had a great game, couple of real big saves," defenseman Marc Staal said. "He's been working hard and similar starts last season and wasn't getting the results early. It was good to see him get a win for that kind of effort."

Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss (29) stops a shot by Canucks right wing Alex Chiasson (39) as Nick Leddy (2) defends in the second period.

An apparent tying goal at 17:29 for Vancouver was taken away when Nils Hoglander interfered with Greiss, Hoglander hitting Greiss high while cruising through the slot.

Greiss made several dazzling saves, including sliding over to stop Hoglander on a 2-on-1 Vancouver rush, stopping Bo Horvat on a one-timer in the slot, and turning aside Horvat again near the post with just under two minutes remaining in the game after Vancouver had pulled its goalie.

Sam Gagner's empty net, shortly after the late save on Horvat, clinched the Wings' win.

"Greiss was a big piece of the win tonight for sure," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Filip Zadina (power play) Robby Fabbri  and Gagner (empty net) scored for the Wings.

Zadina left the game in the third period after getting hit hard in the corner by Conor Garland. Zadina headed to the locker room, but returned late in the period.

The Wings consistently went after Garland the rest of the game, and similar to Thursday's chippy game against Tampa, did not back down physically.

"I appreciate what the boys did there, they stood up for me," Zadina said. "(We have the) best teammates, a real good team. 

"I was reaching for the puck and he (Garland) hit me. He's a midget. He's not strong enough to battle in the corner. (It was a) stupid hit."

Blashill likes the way the Wings have competed and stuck up for each other, when needed, in the early going.

"We have to look after each other and stick up for each other and do that within the context of winning the hockey game," Blashill said.

Garland scored Vancouver's goal, as the Canucks often came close, only to be frustrated by Greiss.

"They played excellent hockey, I was impressed with the way they played with the back to back (winning Friday in Philadelphia)," Blashill said, noting the Wings had to match that competitiveness and did.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Canucks 1

Zadina broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal at 6:42. Moritz Seider (third assist) found Zadina on the flank and Zadina's one timer appeared to deflect off Vancouver's Oliver Ekman-Larsson's stick and past goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

Vancouver tied the score 1-1 earlier in the second period on Garland's first goal. Garland had the puck on the goal line and flipped a shot that bounced of Greiss' mask and into the net.

Fabbri opened the scoring with his first goal, at 11:05 of the first period.

Marc Staal saw Fabbri in the slot, and Fabbri redirected the puck over Halak's shoulder, opening the scoring.

The Wings killed all three Vancouver power plays after an ineffective night of penalty killing Thursday against Tampa.

After seeing two three-goal leads slip away against Tampa, the Wings did a much better job putting Vancouver away late in the game.

"It's not something we wanted to repeat," Staal said. "We were smarter with the puck, more composed with it, and did things to win the hockey game. It's something we'll have to do if we want to close them out."

Twitter: @tkulfan