Red Wings show 'killer instinct' in answering Devils' challenge with 3-0 victory
This was another afternoon where the Red Wings had a short memory, which proved beneficial for them.
Just 24 hours after a drab loss against Pittsburgh, the Red Wings went into New Jersey Sunday and defeated the Devils 3-0.
The Red Wings got goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Tyler Bertuzzi (empty net) and Michael Rasmussen (empty net), and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 17 shots for his fourth shutout as the Wings rebounded from Saturday's one-sided loss.
"We had some urgency, we had some jump in our game and purpose," Nedeljkovic said. "We were playing like we were playing for something, play for some pride. Guys came out and wanted to compete, they wanted to work, and that's what happens when you out-work and out-compete teams.
"You give yourself a way better chance for success."
Saturday's loss to the Penguins was one that has become too familiar this second half of the season for the Wings. A blowout loss, with not enough pushback from the Wings.
But 24 hours later, it was a reversal in New Jersey.
"Some things were said in the room after the game (Saturday)," Nedeljkovic said. "We've had too many of those games where we ended up kind of blown out. (Sunday) was a big game for some guys to rebound and right the ship, myself included.
"It's been that kind of the last few months and we have to find a way to stop that from happening. Coming out with more these kind of performances."
Two areas have been lacking in Nedeljkovic's estimation.
"Lack of energy and attention to detail," Nedeljkovic said. "Things like that, we allow it to snowball and create more problems for us. Throughout 82 games you're not going to have your legs every night. But you have to find a way to still come to the rink and show up and play games and be a professional.
"These last three games are an opportunity for us to kind of show and put what happened (Saturday) behind us."
The Wings (31-39-10) have defeated New Jersey (27-44-8) in both games this season, with one more game coming Friday in the regular-season finale for both.
"Both teams were missing a number of key players," coach Jeff Blashill said. "There's going to be some limited offensive firepower missing out of both teams at that point. You have to continue to check well and not give up anything easy and find a way to a goal, and ultimately we did.
"Overall we did a pretty good job of playing the right way. We got it back after being loose (defensively) in the early part of the third (period) and found our way to a win."
A turning point in the game occurred late in the second period, as the Devils' Yegor Sharangovich appeared to score a game-tying goal.
Sharangovich lifted a shot from a bad angle that may have glanced off a skate and past Nedeljkovic with 43 seconds left in the period.
But the Wings promptly challenged the goal, believing the play was off-side. Sure enough, video confirmed the off-side and the Wings maintained the 1-0 lead.
One area where the Wings have been successful this season is the coach's challenge. They are 6-3 in challenges, 3-3 on interference calls and 3-0 on off-side reviews.
"They do a real good job," said Blashill of his video staff. "They're on top of it and they care and work hard at it. When we get one wrong, we find out why and they do a good job doing the research so the next one is right."
Sundqvist scored his eighth goal, fourth since arriving to the Wings in a deal at the NHL trade deadline, in the first period.
Rasmussen knocked the puck off Devils forward Andreas Johnsson's stick directly into the slot, where Sundqvist quickly poked it past goaltender Andrew Hammond at 15:48.
Nedeljkovic only had to stop four shots in the first period, but he needed to be sharp early, as the Devils blitzed the Wings on the first shift. That New Jersey momentum was short lived.
Nedeljkovic turned aside Sharangovich early in the second period, keeping it 1-0, then barely broke a sweat despite two consecutive penalty kills.
Two Jakub Vrana penalties didn't hurt the Wings, who didn't allow a meager Devils power play even a shot on net, as frustrated Devils fans booed loudly.
Bertuzzi scored his 29th goal and Rasmussen scored his 14th, both into an empty nets, to clinch the outcome.
"We had that killer instinct of wanting to win the game, no matter what it took," Nedeljkovic said. "That's what we need moving forward."