Wings find way to beat Penguins in OT
DETROIT -- If there's one thing Detroit fans have learned in the last week, it's to stay until the very end of the game because you never know when the home team might snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Lions stole one from the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and the Red Wings took one from the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3, in overtime Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
But the Wings looked more like the team that had played the previous night than the one that actually did for most of the game.
Through two periods, the Penguins had a 3-1 lead on goals by Pascal Dupuis, Olli Maatta and Chris Kunitz.
The Wings looked listless, especially in the first and on the power play, which remains stuck on two goals in 27 opportunities.
Then came the end of the third when the Wings pulled goaltender Jimmy Howard with 2:55 left in regulation.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg scored at 17:21 and then Niklas Kronwall got his second of the game, tying the score with 38.9 seconds left.
"We just didn't have our legs to start and weren't really making plays," Justin Abdelkader said. "As the game went, we started just trying to play simple and get pucks through the neutral zone and I thought we did a good job of that. I think our game came as the second period and third period went along."
The crazy part of Kronwall's game-tying goal is Pavel Datsyuk had the puck near the net and passed it back to Kronwall for the shot.
"It was important for Pavel to have a game where he could get emotionally involved so he can engage and get playing like Pavel can," Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
In overtime, Abdelkader got the game-winner on a rebound with 43.5 seconds left, helping the Wings improve to 4-1-2 as the Penguins fell to 3-2-1.
"Actually, I was towards the end of my shift there," Abdelkader said. "Puck kind of squirted loose, I don't know if it was Pav or Z that got a stick on it, I think it was Z. I just kind of jumped in front of my guy, I don't think he saw me coming there from behind him. I wanted to get a shot off quick there. Got it up and just off the post and in."
Abdelkader has three goals in seven games this season. He did not get his third goal until the 26th game last season.
"Abby has been huge for us whether he scores or not, he's always providing a lot of work ethic and his physical play," Kronwall said. "He's one of those guys that you love to have on your team, hard to play against for the other team. And of course, you work hard and you get rewarded and that's what he's doing right now for us. Good for him and good for us, of course."
The Wings celebrated as much as they ever have for a regular-season victory.
"It was a huge comeback for us," Babcock said. "Obviously we weren't as good as we wanted to be. We can skate and we're a hardworking group and we didn't skate and we didn't work hard in the first period and we dug ourselves a hole. We then spent a lot trying to claw our way back. Gotta give the guys a ton of credit, they stuck with it and Howie gave us a chance and in the end we were able to get it done."
The Wings also kept their penalty kill perfect against the league's top power play, as the Penguins were 0-for-3.
"Our first one, we were lucky they didn't shoot it in the net, let's be honest," Babcock said. "They had it on a string and we weren't very good but we got better as the game went on."
The Wings were hardly spectacular on Thursday but they showed that they'll keep at it.
"I just thought we hung in there," Babcock said. "We weren't pretty for a lot of the night. We weren't near as good as we're capable of being. We're a way better hockey club than that. The guys stuck with it."
NOTES: Kronwall's second goal was the 300th point of his career.
Zetterberg's goal and two assists gave him 730 career points, moving him past Ted Lindsay into eighth place on the Wings' all-time points list.