'Our guys want to win': Goalie Pickard leads Wings over Penguins in shootout, 3-2

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

This was a different Red Wings team Friday in Pittsburgh.

After a poor defensive game Wednesday against Chicago, the Wings shut down a powerful Penguins team, and defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout.

The Wings won the shootout 1-0, with Lucas Raymond scoring the lone goal.

Goals from unexpected sources, Givani Smith and Filip Zadina (power play), sparked the Wings, who also received a fine goaltending effort from Calvin Pickard who stopped 36 shots in his first start since May 8, 2011.

Detroit Red Wings' Givani Smith (48) celebrates with Joe Veleno after scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022.

With Alex Nedeljkovic getting a night off, Pickard was never rattled throughout the evening.

"It was a good opportunity for me for sure, with the back-to-back," Pickard said. "It's been a good season for me, I've played a lot in Grand Rapids which has kept me sharp. I got two periods (of playing time) the other night and I wanted to go out there (Friday) and have a good start.

"The guys played real well in front of me, got some timely goals. We had the puck a lot tonight and limited their time and space."

Pickard stopped Jake Guentzel, SIdney Crosby and Kris Letang in the shootout.

"Be patient," said Pickard of what his strategy was in the shootout.

"I see those guys scoring all the time in shootouts, so I wanted to challenge them and be patient and let them make the first move. I did that for the most part and Razor (Raymond) had a big goal, too."

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, top center, gives instructions during the third period.

Pickard is one of the most popular players in the Wings' organization, and Wings players mobbed Pickard after the final save with plenty of smiles all around. Coach Jeff Blashill felt the Wings played a real good road game in front of the veteran goalie.

"Calvin is a warrior, he's a real warrior, he battles to win games and we felt this was the right one for him," Blashill said. "He did a great job in the shootout, he stopped them throughout.

"The guys played real hard for Calvin. The type of person he is, great personality, he worked real hard to continue to stay on top of his game."

The Wings (19-19-6) ended a three-game winless streak, while Pittsburgh (27-10-7) has earned points in the last 19 of 21 games.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Penguins 2

The Wings come home to face another offensive juggernaut, Toronto, Saturday (7 p.m./BSD/97.1).

But the way the Wings responded after the disappointment against Chicago was important.

"It was a good answer by our guys," Blashill said. "We had a tough meeting the other day,  there was a mentality to the practice (Thursday) and the guys did a real good job of showing up and playing the right way.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) and Detroit Red Wings' Moritz Seider (53) are separated by a linesman during the third period.

"Our guys want to win. They want to play the right way, and it's a process to do that and they're working toward it."

Guentzel had two goals, including the tying goal 27 seconds into the third period for the Penguins.

Guentzel forced the puck away from defenseman Filip Hronek near the corner. Crosby got the puck off the turnover, and fed Guentzel alone in the slot, who beat Pickard for his 23rd goal.

It was a difficult goal allowed considering how well the Wings had played through two periods.

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Zadina's goal broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period, a much-needed goal for the slumping winger.

With the Wings on the power play, Zadina put back a loose puck near the crease past goaltender Casey DeSmith at 16:31.  There was a noticeable sense of relief for Zadina, whose goal scored was his first in 19 games, not having scored since Nov. 30. It was Zadina's fifth goal (third on the power play).

"I would say Filip Zadina, the last two games, has played real well," Blashill said. "The best part of that power play goal was the poise he showed below the goal line to get the puck up top and going to the cage and scoring those dirty goals."

Zadina's goal answered Pittsburgh's power-play goal earlier in the period, Guentzel scored his 22nd goal at 5:54.

Crosby lifted a shot from near the hashmarks, Evgeni Malkin got a stick on the puck, and Guentzel pounced on the loose puck in front of Pickard, tying the game 1-1.

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Still, the Wings were mainly effective limiting chances and keeping Pittsburgh's key players in check.

"They threw a lot of pucks at the net but mostly from the outside and guys were clearing lanes and blocking shots and had good sticks," Pickard said. "After Wednesday, it was a pretty crazy game and we practiced things (Thursday) that definitely showed up. We did a real good job in the defensive zone."

The Wings limited Crosby, Malkin, Letang and the rest of the Penguins to only five shots in the first period, while taking a 1-0 lead on Smith's goal.

Again, it was a goal near the front of the net and the type of goal Blashill wants to see more of.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel (59), center right, celebrates his goal with Bryan Rust (17) during the second period.

Joe Veleno intercepted an ill-advised pass from Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson near the dot. Veleno threw the puck in front and Smith controlled the rebound, whirled around, and backhanded the puck through DeSmith at 18:19 of the first period, Smith's first goal in 16 games and third of the season.

"He played a pretty good game, made some big hits, definitely was a physical force and he's a big body around the net with good hands," Blashill said.

This was a satisfying evening for the Wings, after a letdown of a game 48 hours earlier.

"More than the result was how we got the result," Blashill said. "I'm not saying we outplayed them, they certainly had their chances, but we did a lot of things that you have to do to be a good team, or have a chance to be good teams and win on the road."


Twitter: @tkulfan