VANCOUVER -- For the Detroit Red Wings, recovering from a pair of blown third-period leads wasn't a problem.
Nothing usually is after regulation this season.
Dominant through 40 minutes before stumbling, the Red Wings took over again in overtime before winning in a shootout, with Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler scoring on the first two attempts and Jimmy Howard stopping both at the other end to lift Detroit to a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
The Red Wings are now 6-0 in shootouts this season, a lopsided total matched by the one-sided shot clock through their first two periods in Vancouver.
"When you won a few in a shootout you are a confident bunch," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Howie has been really good and guys have been confident coming in on those shootouts, so it's been going really good."
The opposite was true at the other end, where Vancouver is now 3-5 in shootouts this season; Luongo dropped to 2-5 with 11 goals allowed on 21 shots. Of course, if not for Luongo the game never would have gotten to a shootout. He made the best of his 40 saves while the Canucks were being outshot 30-11 in the first 40 minutes.
"Lou had a great 40 minutes to give us a point and a give us a chance to stay in the game," said Alexandre Burrows, who tied it midway through a third period that started with identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin split up.
"We had a good talk after 40 and played much better in the third."
Burrows scored on a Drew Miller turnover, but the Red Wings' forward made up for gaffed by restoring the lead 1:55 later, only to watch Mason Raymond tie it again with 4:24 left on a fluttering wrist shot that hit a Detroit defender and floated past Howard.
It was enough to earn a point and keep the Canucks within four of Detroit atop the Western Conference. But extra points are important -- and they're one reason the Red Wings, who quickly re-established the early domination with a 5-1 shot edge in overtime, lead the entire NHL with 70, five up on Nashville in the tough Central Division.
"Every point matters, especially later in the season and in the second half every point matters now," Lidstrom said. "It's so tight in the standings."
There was nothing tight about this game early.
Detroit outshot Vancouver 15-3 in the second period and 30-11 through 40 minutes, forcing coach Alain Vigneault to split up the Sedins.
"I had to try something," Vigneault said. "We got taken to school."
Howard finished with 22 saves and stopped Raymond and Alexander Edler in the shootout for the Red Wings, who led 2-1 on goals by Danny Cleary and Jiri Hudler before the Canucks, with their lines in a blender, took over the third.
Wings coach Mike Babcock was more impressed with the start than worried about the finish.
"On the road we've dug ourselves a bunch of holes," Babcock said, listing off four multiple-goal deficits from earlier this season. "You can't play like that, so good start in a good building with a real good team to play against."
It could have been over sooner is not for Luongo, who was back in goal after watching Cory Schneider star in a 3-2 overtime win against Chicago on Tuesday and made his best saves during a sloppy first period. It included three breakaways, but Luongo waited out Valtteri Filppula 1:10 in, and got his glove on both Todd Bertuzzi's backhand three minutes later and Johan Franzen's high shot in alone with 1:15 left.
"Great goaltending again," Vigneault said. "We found a way – by not playing a very good game – to get a point."
Only a couple players were taking that as a true positive after being dominated.
"You have to take the positives out of it," insisted Ryan Kesler, who also scored as the Canucks wrapped up a 3-1-2 homestand. "We obviously fought through a lot. We're down twice, three times in the game, and battled back every time."
Cleary also battled back with a goal and an assist after having a cyst behind his knee drained at a Vancouver hospital on Wednesday. He beat Luongo on Detroit's sixth shot just 5:27 in, walking around Dan Hamhuis and cutting into the slot for a blocker-side shot, to open the scoring.
"It was a little sore as the game went on," Cleary said. "It's sore right now, but to be honest with you it's easier skating than walking."
Michigan native David Booth, who grew up cheering the Red Wings from his family's front-row seats, helped the Canucks tie the game with 3:47 left in the period. Booth beat Pavel Datsyuk to a puck in the corner and took it to the front of the net, where Kesler whacked it in.
The shots stayed one-sided in the second, with Detroit recording 10 before Vancouver managed its first 12:08 in. But the Wings kept coming and Hudler restored the lead less than two minutes later, knocking down a cross-ice feed and slapping the bouncing puck in for his fourth goal in three games.
"We definitely outplayed them, had the more quality chances, but Roberto played very well and gave them a chance to hang in there," Cleary said. "It was a big game for us against a top team on the road."