Nedeljkovic's 43-save shutout the most stops by Wings goalie since 1956
Vancouver, British Columbia — Many of the things the Red Wings haven't been good at lately, Thursday they turned around and did well.
And it produced a needed victory, 1-0 over the Vancouver Canucks.
Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 43 shots for his second shutout, the Wings killed three Vancouver power plays (two in the third period), had a good start to the game, they scored the first goal of the game, and Pius Suter ended an 11-game point-less streak with a goal.
"It was similar to Edmonton (Tuesday's 7-5 loss) where we were relentless for the majority of the game," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We hounded the puck on the forecheck, certainly we still made mistakes and breakdowns but Ned was excellent, both goalies faced real good chances and they did an outstanding job, but we've talked about being relentless and working and we did a great job of that."
Nedeljkovic's 43 saves were the most by a Wings goaltender in a shutout since Glenn Hall in 1956 (44, while Terry Sawchuk had 50 in 1959). It was his second shutout this season, but this one was crucial given the Wings' — and Nedeljkovic's own — slump.
"I felt real good," Nedeljkovic said. "It was a warm building, a lot of people in there, it was humid, but I felt real good these last few weeks. It was a combination of trying a little too hard, being a little hard on myself and not getting a few bounces here and there.
"But I felt real good out there."
Blashill liked the command control Nedeljkovic showed against the Canucks.
"It's been a hard stretch, but certainly it's not all on his shoulders, it's a team thing," Blashill said. "But it's been a hard stretch for sure and for him to come out, he was in total command of his game. He played the puck real well, pucks stuck to him well, and he found the puck through traffic well.
"He made big saves at big moments."
The Wings were good defensively, and applied quite a bit of offensive pressure, although Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko (34 saves) was nearly as good as Nedeljkovic.
It was a different looking Wings team, and a winning one.
"It's frustrating, you want to win, we were in the playoff race for a long time, longer than this team has been in one in a while," Nedeljkovic said. "To see it slip away in a matter of four or five games, it really is kind of disappointing, especially with the start we had.
"But there's still a lot of games left and you never know what can happen."
Suter scored at 8:09 of the second period, his 12th goal, just as a Vancouver power play expired. Suter came down on a two-on-one rush with Vladislav Namestnikov, received the pass, then somewhat whiffed on a shot but got enough to confuse Demko as puck trickled through Demko's pads.
"Suter was real good against Edmonton and real good tonight," Blashill said. "He was outstanding on the five-on-six (at the end of the game). You just go through some tough stretches and he went through a tough stretch but he's played real good the last couple of games, and certainly scoring helps."
It was the first time in 10 games the Wings had scored the first goal of the game, as the Wings (25-29-7) ended a six-game winless streak.
The Wings sat defenseman Nick Leddy per a management decision, with the likelihood Leddy will be dealt by Monday's trade deadline.
"Our guys are human so all this stuff affects you," Blashill said. "But one of the things I've been proud of these last two games is, in different ways, we were mentally tough. We all know the situation we're in but we didn't let that decision affect us. We played hard and played with tons of passion."