Justin Abdelkader helped get the Detroit Red Wings’ four-game homestand off to a strong start.
Abdelkader’s power-play goal 24 seconds into overtime lifted the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
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The Red Wings had a man advantage for the final 1:21 of regulation and the opening moments of overtime.
The penalty carried over to the extra session, when Abdelkader knocked in a rebound of a shot from Marek Zidlicky past Jake Allen for the game-winner.
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said the play should have been stopped because it appeared Abdelkader broke his stick in the scrum before knocking in the winner.
”We should at least be playing in the shootout now,” Hitchcock said. ”The referees left the building, all of us left the building. We didn’t have a chance to meet Elvis.”
Jimmy Howard made 23 saves for the Red Wings. The veteran goaltender has received criticism by going 5-5-2 since returning from a groin injury, although he has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of those starts.
”It’s hard to be a goaltender in this league, just like it’s hard to be a quarterback in the NFL and hard to be a pitcher in baseball,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ”When you don’t do it, people start questioning you. Howie kind of relishes that opportunity.”
Alexander Steen scored for the Blues on a power-play goal at 9:38 of the second period.
Babcock said the home win was big for his team, which went 1-3 on a four-game road trip.
”You get sick and tired of losing, especially when you’re not used to it,” Babcock said. ”They’re smart people, they know what the standings are and they want to be in the playoffs. That’s what we expected from the get-go – to make the playoffs – and that’s where we’re at.”
The Blues are in contention for the Presidents’ Trophy for the most points in the league and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Red Wings are trying to hold on to their playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Whether it was the playoff implications or a carry-over from the teams’ old Western Conference rivalry, the game had a strong intensity. The teams accumulated 36 of their 50 penalty minutes in a third period that included multiple skirmishes on the ice.
The third period started with Erik Cole’s goal only 24 seconds into the period. The tying goal came after a shot by Abdelkader hit the head of Blues defenseman Chris Butler and landed in front of Allen, setting up Cole for his third goal in 10 games since being traded to Detroit from Dallas.
”I thought (Butler) got hit in the face and maybe they would stop the play,” Allen said. ”It was a weird play. I got caught and was surprised a little bit.”
Babcock joked about Abdelkader making ”good passes off a guy’s face,” but said sending the puck at the net is what he tells his players.
”If you shoot the puck, you get breaks because it’s random. It’s harder when it’s random,” Babcock said. ”When you pass the puck all the time, the goalie knows where the puck’s going.”
Allen finished with 23 saves for the Blues, who were playing their fifth game in a six-game road trip and the second in less than 24 hours.
NOTES: Detroit C Pavel Datsyuk missed his third game with a lower-body injury. … St. Louis D Carl Gunnarson was scratched with an upper-body injury. … Alexander Steen’s second-period goal was the 300th point with the Blues. Red Wings RW Johan Franzen remained out with a concussion.