Wings post back-to-back wins, Gagner scores twice to down Jets

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

For a team that hasn't had much go right, this was a satisfying two nights for the Red Wings.

The Wings completed a back-to-back sweep Wednesday with an impressive 3-1 victory in Winnipeg.

Michael Rasmussen continued his scoring surge with his fourth goal in five games, breaking a third period 1-1 tie and Sam Gagner had a shorthanded and empty-net goal spurring the victory.

Goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 32 shots and enabled the Wings to get into the game with some key early saves, much as Alex Nedeljkovic did for the Wings the night before against Boston.

"In both games we've gotten real good goaltending," said coach Jeff Blashill, who earned his 200th career NHL victory. "That allowed us to get our legs. We weren't skating great in the first, I didn't think we were quick enough at all. He (Greiss) allowed us to get our legs and that's a huge thing."

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Jets 1

Rasmussen, becoming a net-front presence, carved out space in front of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Walled Lake Northern) and whacked a loose puck for his 12th goal.

"He was a huge factor," said Blashill of the rapidly improving Rasmussen. "He's skating hard and winning puck battles and he's at the net. He can score those dirty goals."

Detroit Red Wings' Dylan Larkin (71) and Sam Gagner (89) celebrate Gagner's goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Coming off a hard-earned win Tuesday over Boston, the Wings (28-34-9) duplicated the effort against a Winnipeg team that was desperate for a victory to stay in playoff contention.

"You don't want to ever had a bad feeling about yourself or your team going into the offseason," Rasmussen said. "Everyone wanted to finish these last games well and have a good feeling and take some steps forward in the right direction for the coming years."

More: Red Wings' Jeff Blashill: Culture matters when developing winning organization

Blashill has noticed an increased competitiveness.

"Some guys have raised their urgency level and sacrifice level," Blashill said. "We were in a rut where we were playing games and that's not to say guys weren't working hard, they were working hard, but it wasn't the same level of sacrifice and compete and work that you have to have to earn a playoff spot."

Gagner opened the scoring with his 500th career point, late in the first period.

Dylan Larkin won the draw and forced Jets defenseman Josh Morrisey into a turnover. Larkin worked the puck down the ice and fed Gagner, who was driving to the net and poked the puck past Hellebuyck.

It was Gagner's 10th goal, and second in two nights

Winnipeg tied the game on Mark Scheifele's 27th goal in the second period.

The Jets worked the puck to Nate Schmidt on the point and Schmidt lifted a shot that Scheifele, battling Mortiz Seider for position in front, got his stick on and deflected the puck past Greiss.

But that was basically the lone Jets highlight in the middle period.

More: Red Wings' Jakub Vrana, Filip Zadina show glimpses of big things offensively together

Winnipeg appeared to take a 2-1 lead three minutes later on a similar Blake Wheeler redirection. But Wheeler began the play by being off-side, which was quickly determined by video replay, keeping the score 1-1.

Interestingly, it was the Wings who were sparked by the Winnipeg no-goal.

The Wings dominated play for approximately the next eight minutes, with Lucas Raymond and Jakub Vrana both hitting goal posts, just missing by inches of extending the Wings' lead.

The Wings also had a power play, their first of the game, but did not convert.

Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) and Detroit Red Wings' Marc Staal (18) dig for the puck during the first period.

"After the first period we got some big stops from Greisser and we put the foot on the gas and won a lot of battles and got to the net," Rasmussen said. "We played the right way and took care of the puck."

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Twitter: @tkulfan