DETROIT – It took a little longer this time, but the Detroit Red Wings got another scoring outburst on home ice and breezed to an easy victory.
Two days after stunning the Phoenix Coyotes with five first-period goals, the Red Wings were back at it on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. After a closely contested first period, Detroit stunned the travel-weary Winnipeg Jets with four second-period goals on the way to a 7-1 rout to end the visitors' four-game winning streak.
Winnipeg didn't arrive at the team hotel until 4 a.m. on Saturday morning after beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 Friday night at the MTS Centre, but it might not have mattered much anyway. After Brian Little scored in the first minute for the Jets, the Wings blew them away.
"The first 30 seconds was a tough start, but then we took it over and played pretty good hockey," said Wings forward Jiri Hudler, who scored a pair of goals and has now scored in three straight games. "We got on our horse. We knew they played (Friday night) and they got here really, really late … actually this morning almost. We just kept talking about how we had to keep putting pressure on their defense) and be really physical."
Detroit (18-9-1) won for the 12th time in 15 home games and dropped the Jets' road record to 4-8-4 -- including 0-3-0 against the Central Division. The Wings, who are just 6-7-0 on the road themselves, showed in the last two games how tough they can be when they're dominating puck possession – which they've done in bulk amounts the past two games.
The Jets opted to rest rather than hold a morning skate on Saturday, but Detroit wore them down anyway. Bryan Little put Winnipeg up 1-0 just 35 seconds after the opening faceoff, but the Wings scored seven unanswered goals and cruised.
Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg each scored in the first, a precursor to goals from Jiri Hudler, Chris Conner, Valtteri Filppula and Drew Miller in the second – all at even strength against Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
"It seemed like everybody in the offensive zone (for Detroit) was open," said Pavelec, who was finally pulled after Hudler scored his second to make it 7-1 at 1:12 of the third. "They move very well in the zone. They handle the puck really well. Sometimes they had scoring chances and would handle the puck, make a pass and get better scoring chances. They're pretty smart players and if you play against those teams you have to play your best. We didn't and we didn't deserve to win. It's very simple."
Hudler (two goals), Bertuzzi (one goal, one assist), Filppula (one goal, one assist),Zetterberg (one goal, one assist), Pavel Datsyuk (two assists) and Johan Franzen (two assists) all finished with multi-point nights for Detroit – which has won nine in a row at home but now hits the road for games at Pittsburgh and Nashville.
Filppula remains red-hot. He's now scored goals in back-to-back games and in six of the last eight contests – racking up 11 points in that span. Datsyuk, who set up Filppula's goal with a pretty backhand pass that he shoveled from the boards to the slot, has also posted consecutive two-assist games.
Playing through a lower-body injury that kept him out of practice on Friday, Datsyuk now has six goals and 18 points in his last 12 games.
"That's an unbelievable pass," Filppula said of the second-period shovel feed by Datsyuk. "Not a lot of guys make those passes, but he definitely can. He has eyes on his back so it was really one of those passes that he tends to do sometimes."
It was Hudler and Conner, however, who really turned it into a one-sided game with their goals just 40 seconds apart to make it 4-1 less than five minutes into the second.
Hudler beat Pavelec high over the catching glove off a pass from Franzen at 4:03 and Conner shot a puck that slid off Mark Flood's stick before deflecting off Randy Jones' skate blade in the low slot into the net for his first goal as a Red Wing.
Conner, originally from the Detroit suburb of Westland, Mich., signed with the Wings last summer.
"It felt good and obviously it wasn't the prettiest one, but I'm glad it counts," he said. "Growing up (here) and being a Wings' fan, obviously getting that first one is a big deal – but I'm glad that we got the win, too."
Filppula's goal – shot from the slot – then beat Pavelec high at 9:31 of the second and Miller put another one high past the Jets goalie off a rebound a little more than three minutes later for a 6-1 lead. At that point, only three Wings players hadn't recorded at least one point. Hudler then opened the third with his second goal and sixth of the season.
Meanwhile, another strong defensive performance by the Wings and solid night in goal by Jimmy Howard (29 saves) got a little lost among all the offense.
Howard had to be on his toes early thanks to an exuberant effort from the Jets – who got the start they wanted in front of a good number their fans who made the trip to watch them play a team that's slated to become a conference opponent next season under the NHL's realignment plan.
Little put one through Howard's pads with a backhand off the rush and the Jets were celebrating his third straight game with a goal and sixth straight with a point before many people even took their seats.
As it turned out, that was just about the last thing that went right for the visitors all night.
"Getting a goal first shift, you couldn't ask for a better start but it was all downhill from there," Little said. "We learned what it's like to play against one of the best teams in the League. So far, they've given us the best game, I think. They've been the toughest team we've played."
What made the Wings so tough, aside from some tired legs for the Jets?
"Puck possession is a big thing," Little said. "Our faceoffs weren't great and it just seemed like they were hanging onto the puck a lot longer. We got caught watching them too much. We had a bit too much respect for them. It just felt like we were on the penalty kill for half the game."