Red Wings snap two-game skid with dominating 6-2 win over Sharks
Detroit — These were two teams coming off forgettable losses, but it was the Red Wings who did something about it.
Two goals each from Tyler Bertuzzi and Pius Suter — and each had a shorthanded goal 37 seconds apart — spurred the Wings to defeat the struggling San Jose Sharks 6-2 at Little Caesars Arena.
Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri added goals, and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic only needed to stop 24 shots, as the Wings dominated from start to finish.
"I definitely saw a sense of urgency from our team," said coach Jeff Blashill, who didn't feel the same way after Sunday's loss against Boston. "We had a little bit of a slow start, then after we got playing, we played a pretty good hockey game. We did a lot of things right.
"We gapped and tracked hard which allowed us to take the game to them a little bit. We didn't give them much space. We battled hard and competed from a physical standpoint. There were a lot of good things there."
Coming off a disappointing loss Sunday — and a last-minute loss Friday to Washington — the Wings wanted something positive with an upcoming three-game road trip through California beginning Thursday.
The Sharks were a perfect tonic.
San Jose lost 8-5 in Pittsburgh on Sunday, allowing six goals in the first period, and found out earlier in the day star forward Logan Couture was placed on the COVID protocol list.
The Wings took advantage, rebounding with a better effort in many areas.
"It's just a good feeling," Suter said. "Everybody playing their own games and everybody gets going makes it much easier."
The Wings took the lead on Bertuzzi's fluky first-period goal.
BOX SCORE: Red Wings 6, Sharks 2
Bertuzzi opened the scoring, backhanding an innocent-looking shot from the goal line that Sharks goaltender James Reimer knocked past himself at 13:02 of the first period.
The last thing the Sharks needed to see was a goal like that one to open this game - and they appeared to lose confidence.
Givani Smith, who fought San Jose defenseman Jacob Middleton early in the first period, earned a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct for a hit on Middleton in the corner late in the first period.
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San Jose, with a five-minute power play, had an excellent opportunity to take control of the game.
Instead, it was the Wings with the two shorthanded goals.
"You have a five-minute major, you just try to survive it and go from there," Suter said. "We were up three (goals after the penalty) so that was real good."
The Wings hadn't scored a shorthanded goal in 101 games, going back to Feb. 15, 2020 when Darren Helm scored on the penalty kill.
But Suter ended that streak when he swiped the puck from Sharks defenseman Brent Burns at the blue line, went on a breakaway, and beat Reimer at 2:04.
The Wings weren't finished.
Another San Jose misplay along the boards led to a Wings 2-on-1 break with Carter Rowney and Bertuzzi. Rowney fed Bertuzzi near the hashmarks, Reimer over-committed, and Bertuzzi fired in his 15th goal at 2:41, just 37 seconds after Suter scored.
"Huge goals in the game," Blashill said. "The longer you can go on the kill there, it makes it hard on them. Our kill did a real good job not giving them much."
Rowney, incidentally, suffered a lower body injury in the third period and didn't return. Blashill wasn't sure of the extent of the injury after the game.
The shorthanded goals by Suter and Bertuzzi were the first time the Wings scored two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill since Dec. 17, 1999 against Colorado.
Brendan Shanahan and Doug Brown scored those goals that night, 11 seconds apart on goaltender Patrick Roy.
After Jasper Weatherby got San Jose on the scoreboard, making it 3-1, the Wings answered with Suter's second goal and eighth of the season.
New linemate Michael Rasmussen, who was effective playing on the wing, backhanded a pass to Suter, who was driving to the net, and Suter made no mistake snapping a shot past Reimer at 9:32 of the second period.
Larkin (16th goal) and Fabbri (ninth) scored 1:10 apart early in the third period, after the Sharks' Alexander Barabanov cut the Wings lead to 4-2, putting the game away.
Larkin's goal, restoring a three-goal lead (5-2), was actually a key goal at the time.
"Made it more quiet for us," Suter said. "It's nice to take their energy out of game. We scored, and scored right away again."
For a Wings team that had struggled to score at home — netting two goals or less in four of their last five home games — the Wings enjoyed a rare offensive outburst.
They had scored one goal each against the Capitals and Bruins.
"You come out of the break and score one goal and one goal, confidence matters," Blashill said. "When you're able to get six, it helps guys, helps them feel good about themselves and confidence can lead to more offense."
For a Wings' team that was teetering a bit after the weekend losses, this game was a needed and necessary.
"We talked again before the game of the importance of this game and making sure to a man we play our best hockey," Blashill said. "That's what it takes as much as anything else. And to a man, we played pretty good hockey. There were a number of guys that played real good."