By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT — The Red Wings can sleep a little easier Tuesday night.
Detroit picked up its first win in its last seven games, and naturally, it came against the Western Conference’s top team.
The Wings took a 5-1 decision over the Winnipeg Jets at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday night. Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, David Booth and Darren Helm scored for Detroit, while Jimmy Howard was sharp between the pipes to earn his ninth win of the season, keeping Winnipeg to just one goal.
“Obviously those last two were pretty embarrassing for us,” Helm said. “We took it to heart, we play with pride and we wanted to respond and show that tonight.”
Winnipeg not only entered the game tied with Tampa Bay atop the league with 38 points, but also with a league-high 36 first-period goals and 13-1-3 record when scoring first.
“It was a critical start, I think our leadership did a real good job of — after the last game — setting the tone, saying that obviously wasn’t good enough and I thought top to bottom everyone was playing,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “The one thing we did tonight was we felt our best advantage was to win with four lines, and I thought we had four lines going pretty good. And that’s something that’s gonna be key for us as we continue to go forward.”
Perhaps most importantly, Detroit kept the potent Jets’ offense — which included two of the league’s top scorers in Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele — off the board at 5-on-5 and also early in the contest. The Jets’ only goal came on a 5-on-3 power play.
“It’s an excellent power play,” Blashill said. “The first unit of theirs is really, really powerful. I thought our kill, to be real honest, it’s leaked out of the top ten. I think it’s been really, really good… You don’t want to give that power play too many opportunities, but I think our kill has done a real good job.”
The Wings received scoring from some unlikely sources, as Helm and Booth entered Tuesday with five goals between them. Nyquist and Abdelkader, meanwhile, each scored for the first time since mid-November, the former scoring twice. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was originally credited with Nyquist’s second of the season, as it was his point shot found the back of the net after clipping Nyquist on the way past.
“The goal I had, the rebound came right on my stick basically, so a couple good bounces I think was nice,” Nyquist said.
It’s those exact bounces that the Wings were rarely graced with by the hockey gods during their seven-game skid. Tuesday’s result could prove to be a good omen for the Wings as the remainder of the current home stand isn’t any easier.
Winnipeg was just the start of a tough five-game home stand that ends next Friday and features (chronologically) St. Louis, Florida, Boston and Toronto.
“It’s a tight race; to go on a seven-game losing streak, that’s not good enough,” Nyquist said. “You’re gonna be looking up in the standings. We won today, but still lots to make up for that losing skid.”