Wings lose starting goalie, still get shutout
FEB 03, 2014 10:11p ET
DETROIT -- On a night when the Red Wings' starting goaltender had to leave the game, the last thing you might expect was a shutout.
But the Wings did shut out the Vancouver Canucks, 2-0.
Jonas Gustavsson started the game and stopped all eight shots he faced in the first period. But Gustavsson was experiencing dizziness, so Jimmy Howard came out for the second and played the rest of the game.
Justin Abdelkader quickly gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at 1:08 of the second period. He also scored the other goal, an empty-netter on the power play with 15.7 seconds left in regulation.
Detroit native David Booth was awarded a penalty shot against Howard at 4:41 when Jakub Kindl hauled him down.
Howard's reaction? Laughter.
"I played with him at the U.S. program," Howard said. "I had an idea of what he was going to do. I was laughing when it all went down. When he was getting the penalty shot, I started chuckling and smiling."
Howard foiled Booth, who didn't seem as amused.
"I remember watching the Winter Classic on TV and seeing that he got beat low blocker," Booth said.
About five minutes later, Alex Edler ended up crashing into Howard.
"Nothing like a penalty shot and getting run over to get you into the game," Howard said. "It was a huge two points for us. We just gotta keep this rolling into the Olympic break."
Howard finished by stopping all 16 shots he faced to improve to 11-12-9.
"Sometimes it's easier to be surprised and just go out there and just play," Howard said. "You don't have the chance to think about anything. You just rely on your instincts."
According to STATS LLC, it was the first combined shutout by Wings goalies since Dominik Hasek and Manny Legace had a 1-0 shutout Oct. 27, 2001, at Nashville.
After allowing 26 goals in their last seven games, it was a refreshing change for the Red Wings to not allow any for the first time since Oct. 21, which came in a 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose.
"Obviously, the game in Washington was up and down and a lot of defensive mistakes, some turnovers and a lot of goals," Abdelkader said. "But that's not our kind of our ammo going forward here, with our group and the young guys we have in this room we have to be good defensively, limit the opposition's chances for and try to limit our turnovers, 'cause you know we've been a team for the most part that's been struggling to score goals for most of the year.
"Anytime you're struggling to score goals you gotta keep goals out of your net to stay in games. Going forward we just gotta play solid defensively. Obviously Jimmy and Monster played a good game for us and made saves when they had to."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock was particularly pleased with the penalty kill, which killed off all five Canucks' chances.
"Outstanding," Babcock said. "It has been so good all year and the for the last bit we've been on our heels for some reason. I thought we did a real good job -- instead of being passive we were aggressive. We got rewarded for it, plus we got good goaltending in those situations."
Playing their third game in four nights, the tired Wings remained focused.
"It was definitely a battle and no one felt good in here but almost when you feel like that you know you have to play well defensively," Kyle Quincey said. "That's the way we kind of focused going in."
It also helped that in the third period, the Wings did not allow the Canucks a shot until there was only 5:36 left in the period.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of staying on the inside in our zone," Niklas Kronwall said. "We tried to stay aggressive and I thought we did a pretty good job in the neutral zone kind of deflecting them early. Our forwards did a great job of having a guy above their middle option all night long. That made it a lot easier for the D men."
The Wings have two games in Florida before the Olympic break, so there's no time to rest on their recent success.
"We need all the points we can get there," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Obviously, it's been a good weekend for us. Three in four days and we got five points. Just got to keep this going here and go down to Florida and Tampa and win some games."