-- Todd Bertuzzi
refused to let his aching back keep him from being the Detroit Red Wings
' answer to Marian Hossa
Hossa, the former Red Wing, nearly slugged his former team in the gut again late in a tight game for the Chicago Blackhawks
on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. His play to set up a goal by Jonathan Toews
with just 52 seconds left in regulation forced overtime in a game that Detroit had led since the midway point of the first period.
It was setting up to be like another tight game here late last season, in which Hossa beat Detroit with an overtime wrister to give the Hawks a win they desperately needed in their hunt for a playoff spot. Instead, Bertuzzi scored his second goal of the game off the rebound of a Valtteri Filppula
shot with 38.3 seconds left in overtime to give the Wings a 3-2 victory that drew them to within a point of the Central Division lead.
It also extended their winning streak at Joe Louis Arena to 14 games, which tied a franchise record that was set in 1965.
"Fil attracted the majority of the guys, (which) left me open in the slot," said Bertuzzi, who missed Friday's practice because of a sore back and groin and was a game-time decision. "I just got the rebound and put it in. We're rolling at home. We're doing things right. We're getting timely goals. We'd like to bring a little bit more of that on the road, considering that there's a handful coming up soon."
Indeed, Detroit's road record of 11-13-0 is a stark opposite to the pristine 17-2-1 mark the Wings have put up on home ice. They've won some close games during this streak and also blown the doors off teams here, which is exactly where this game appeared to be headed after one period.
The Wings dominated the first 20 minutes and took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Tomas Holmstrom
-- who scored on a power play at 12:56 -- and Bertuzzi, who beat Hawks goalie Corey Crawford
with a backhand shot on a breakaway about three minutes later.
That was Bertuzzi's first goal of the game and set the stage for his first two-goal game since Jan. 4, 2011.
The Wings finished the first up 21-4 in shots and would've led by more than two goals were it not for some big stops by Crawford (40 saves) and some excellent play around the net by Hawks defenders.
Chicago started to even the play up in the second, which was highlighted by a strange goal scored off the stick of rookie Andrew Shaw
-- who had the puck bounce right to his stick in front of a vacated net after it eluded Howard behind the goal.
He tucked it into the net for his third career goal and second in as many games to cut Detroit's lead to 2-1 with 3:07 left before the second intermission. Television replays showed what might have led to the puck getting past Howard.
After a dump-in by Chicago's Nick Leddy
, the puck appeared to clip an extended portion of the Zamboni door that might've been pulled out by Wings defenseman Brad Stuart
moments before -- when he had to yank his jammed stick free from that spot in the wall.
"I don't know what happened," said Howard, who picked up his League-high 26th win by making 15 of his 25 saves in a frenzied third. "Stewie's stick got caught in the Zamboni door a couple of seconds before and the next thing you know, I went behind to stop it for Stew and it hit the same spot and went between me and the net. Just a (bad) break for us.''
Howard was nearly beaten by another bad bounce in the first, when a puck that he went to play to the right of the net hopped over his stick and went straight to Chicago's Michael Frolik
in the low slot.
Howard preserved a 1-0 lead by whirling his body and making a blind, sliding pad save on Frolik's low attempt. Bertuzzi scored off a breakaway about 1:30 later -- after sneaking onto the ice during a line change and getting a nice pass from Pavel Datsyuk
from the defensive zone.
His work in the third, however, was a huge reason for it. The Hawks put 13 unanswered shots on him in a frenzied effort to get the tying goal to start the third, but Howard was up to the task on all but one. The save he couldn't make was picked up by Detroit's fourth-line center Justin Abdelkader
, who cleared a loose puck from the crease with Howard on the ice during a scramble.
"I saw Jimmy was down and the guy was kind of coming around and I just tried to help play goal for a second there," Abdelkader told NHL.com. "I've been there before, where I felt like I could've done something -- where I don't want to just stand in front of the net. So it was just a reactionary thing."
It was also one of a number of great efforts by the Wings in the third to preserve a slim lead. Howard and Detroit's defense were also key in killing off Drew Miller
's double-minor for high-sticking midway through the period -- allowing just two shots on Howard, who stopped both.
Killing it off gave the Wings a needed momentum boost, which carried them for almost the rest of the game.
"They were way better than us at the start of the third, and actually Miller's four-minute penalty probably helped us," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We finally got energy and got going and settled down. I don't know why we weren't playing, but we weren't."
The Hawks felt much the same after the first 20 minutes of the game, which forced them to play catch-up the rest of the way.
"I thought we were good the last half of the game … terrible start to the game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Too much standing around and watching them play."
If it weren't for Toews' late tally, Chicago would've been tied for first in the Central Division with its Original Six rival to the East. Instead, that late goal gave the Hawks a point and kept them just a notch ahead.
The Hawks now head back to the Windy City to prepare for another tough game on Sunday at home against the San Jose Sharks.
"We're not going to beat ourselves up about it," Toews said. "We knew that game wasn't over until the end and we stuck with it and got a goal in the last minute. It's unfortunate we couldn't find a way to get the extra point in overtime."