By @SKubus –
DETROIT – In a rare February game at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings fell to the Winnipeg Jets in a Valentine’s Day shootout Saturday night, 5-4.
Winnipeg newcomers Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers combined for one goal, two assists and a shootout winner. Pavel Datsyuk scored a pair for Detroit, while Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall also found the back of the net. With the lone point, the Red Wings fall to 31-13-10 on the season.
“I thought we had the first 30, they had the 30 after that,” head coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we turned over too much pucks in the second half of the second period, and kind of got them going.”
The loss also marked goaltender Jimmy Howard’s first start since returning from injury. Howard turned aside 34 of 38 shots in the tilt, but said he was still a little rusty, which was evident in a few instances.
“Being five weeks, getting back out there, it was great to be back out there competing with the guys,” Howard said. “Obviously several, up to my standards, I wasn’t happy about, but I’m not going to get too down on myself right now, I’m just going to watch the videos tomorrow and try to learn from my mistakes.”
Jets forward Chris Thorburn opened the scoring early, just 2:36 into the contest, as he tipped home a point shot from Rochester native Jacob Trouba.
With Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd and alternate captain Blake Wheeler both in the penalty box for infractions on the same play, Detroit was granted a golden, 5-on-3 for two minutes. And Kronwall converted with his sixth of the season at 16:54 of the period, a one-timer from Zetterberg that beat Jets rookie netminder Michael Hutchinson.
With another powerplay early in the second period, Helm potted his 12th of the season exactly two minutes into the period, banging home his own rebound at the side of the cage to make it a 2-1 game.
At 5:55, Helm then assisted on Datsyuk’s 16th of the season, taking a shot from the right circle that deflected off No. 13’s shoulder and in the net to extend the Red Wings lead to two. But merely a minute later, Wheeler potted his own 16th of the season to cut the Jets’ deficit to one.
Stafford then scored his first goal in a Winnipeg sweater, a powerplay marker with Alexey Marchenko in the box for interference. A potentially rusty Howard stopped Stafford’s first shot, but as he went to cover the puck with his glove, he reached and knocked it back into his own goal to make it a 3-3 game.
And 4:38 into the third period, Ladd tallied his 19th of the season, popping home a wrister on the powerplay to give Winnipeg a 4-3 edge. But after a solo rush from Brendan Smith in which he dumped the puck in on goal and retrieved it himself, Smith found Datsyuk in the high slot and he snapped home his second of the game to knot things at four aside with 6:33 remaining.
It looked bleak in overtime, with Kyle Quincey taking an interference minor with 2:10 to play in the extra frame. But the Red Wings’ PK held firm, as it has all season, with a huge 3-on-4 kill to send the game into a shootout.
“I think PK has been really good all year,” Zetterberg said. “That’s huge. Basically they finished OT with a power play. Howie made some key saves, guys were blocking shots, that’s what you need.”
In the shootout, Stafford was the only player able to convert, as Hutchinson turned aside all three Detroit shooters to seal the win for his team.
After the game, Babcock added that Howard is getting the start on Monday when the Red Wings host the Montreal Canadiens in the only other February home game.
“I thought he battled and gave us a chance, he made enough saves in the shootout and we didn’t give him any run support,” Babcock said. “That’s the story of the night.“