DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings could move Thomas Vanek by the March 1 trade deadline if their postseason streak appears to be doomed.
In the meantime, Vanek is putting together a nice season.
The 32-year-old winger increased his potential appeal on Monday, scoring late in the second period to help Detroit to a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
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Vanek leads the Red Wings with 12 goals, and his $2.6 million, one-year contract expires after this season. Even though Vanek knows he could go, he wants to stay.
”Obviously, I understand the business side of it,” he acknowledged.
Vanek was traded twice during the 2013-14 season, taking him and his expiring contract from Buffalo to the New York Islanders to Montreal in fewer than five months. He was searching for stability that following summer as a free agent and thought he had it with a $19.5 million, three-year contract in Minnesota, but the Wild bought out the final season of his deal last June.
After a disappointing season with just 41 points in 73 games in Minnesota, he has been a pleasant surprise in Detroit by averaging almost a point per game.
”I hope we can put some wins together and stay here,” said Vanek, who has 328 career goals. ”But if I’m moving, I’m getting pretty good at that, too.”
The Red Wings have been moving down in the standings since they started the season 6-2, raising doubts about a 26th consecutive postseason appearance. Lately, though, they have showed signs it may be too early to count them out.
Detroit rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Saturday night and shut out the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens , who had won five of seven games. The Red Wings have consecutive wins in regulation for the first time since October and two straight wins at home for the first time since winning the first four games in the final season at Joe Louis Arena.
Vanek extended his point streak to a season-high six games, redirecting Danny DeKeyser’s shot past Carey Price with 1:36 left in the second. He stood in front of the net, obstructing Price’s vision as he competed for position with Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin.
”He’s been a really good fit for us,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. ”He’s got an unbelievable offensive mind.”
The Canadiens were not able to create many scoring chances against Jared Coreau, who made 18 saves for his second career shutout.
It marked the fewest shots Montreal has had in a game in more than two months, and its second-lowest total of the year.
”I wish we could have generated more offense,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. ”I thought we tied them up defensively, which is something we worked on, and Carey was very good. We just didn’t get any puck luck. They had a goal go in off a pad and we had our shots bounce past the post.”
Price made a spectacular save late in the first period, using his glove to deny Andreas Athanasiou on a breakaway, and finished with 19 stops. Price, who has lost six of his last nine starts, has a losing record since starting 10-0 this season.
”Give them credit because they got tips from the high slot on our end and blocked shots on their end,” Price said.
NOTES: The 6-foot-6 Coreau is the tallest goaltender to play for Detroit. He is 5-1-1 in his first season with the Red Wings, who signed him in 2013 and played him in the minors until giving him a chance to play regularly recently because Jimmy Howard is on injured reserve and Petr Mrazek is struggling. … Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk played in his second game since returning from an 18-game absence because of a knee injury.