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Defensemen help Red Wings handle Devils at home

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings' defensemen provided the offense Friday.

Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith scored 34 seconds apart late in the first period to put Detroit ahead in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Joe Louis Arena.

Niklas Kronwall had a goal and an assist.

"Sometimes I feel like we've been up and rushing it some other games, but the puck went in for the D-men today, so it's a little bit different, easier to say that. But I think that we made good plays," Smith said. "The reason we can get up in rushes is our forwards make good plays and create time and space for us to make plays. Our D corps is trying to be more responsible defensively. If our forwards are making good plays then we can get up in the rush."

Johan Franzen scored for Detroit (7-3-4), and Jimmy Howard made 15 saves.

"Obviously it was a good game for us. We knew they played last night (a 4-3 loss at the St. Louis Blues)," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't give up much in the first. We gave up one scoring chance and they basically scored on it. I thought the power play was good, we stuck with it and got a win."

Steve Bernier and Jordin Tootoo scored for New Jersey (6-6-2), which lost its third straight. Cory Schneider made 20 saves before being pulled after two periods. Keith Kinkaid stopped seven shots in relief.

"Bottom line, they were the better team. We would have been stealing points if we had won," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.

Kindl tied the game with a power-play goal with 1:05 left in the second period. His shot from the right point deflected a couple of times, the last off the stick of Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, which was in the air. It was Kindl's second power-play goal in two games.

Smith's first goal of the season made it 2-1 with 32 seconds left; it was a seeing-eye shot from the high slot.

"It's been tough to put the puck in the mesh there for a little bit here," Smith said. "I've had some good chances. A lot of guys have fed me a lot of times but I haven't been able to bury one. So getting one there was really good.

"[Joakim Andersson] was able to push their D back and I found that hole, was lucky to get that. Next thing I found the net. You [have] to reward the forwards when they're moving their feet and creating gap and then we can get up in the play."

Schneider said, "Got a shot late in the period and then they get another one. That's on all of us. I've got to keep it at one."

Franzen's power-play goal with 8:19 left in the second period increased the lead to 3-1. He beat Schneider high on the short side with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Kronwall made it 4-1 with 2:21 remaining in the period. His shot from the right point went wide, bounced off the end boards and caromed in off the back of Schneider's pad.

"You're aware of it (the lively boards at Joe Louis Arena). Probably the only rink where it could have gone in," Schneider said. "I tried to get my skate back there but I think it came off (the boards) in the air."

Tootoo made it 4-2, 2:26 into the third period when he shot a loose puck from the bottom of the left circle. It was the first goal of the season for Tootoo, a former Red Wings player who returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a foot injury.

Bernier opened the scoring 3:18 into the first period when he slid in a loose puck from in front of Howard. It was Bernier's first goal of the season.

Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk was a late scratch because of a groin injury.

"They told me it was tight. I don't know," Babcock said.

The coach said he didn't know if Datsyuk can return Sunday for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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