VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Detroit Red Wings scored on their first three power plays Sunday. Their penalty killing was even more impressive.
The Red Wings killed off all seven short-handed situations they faced in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The Wings had lost two straight when they arrived in Vancouver Friday, and they spent two days practising defensive zone coverage before throttling Vancouver into an 0-for-7 performance with the man advantage.
"We spent a lot of time on the (penalty kill) and a good response in our own end," said Henrik Zetterberg, who backhanded home the winning goal.
"We played good defence and it all starts there. If we're playing good there and we have the puck, we can have good offence."
Zetterberg, who has scored six times over the past six NHL games, was also the architect of Mikael Samuelsson's opening goal when he slid a backhand pass to his winger.
Brian Rafalski, with his second goal in as many games, made it 2-0 when his point shot deflected past goaltender Roberto Luongo off Canuck Ryan Johnson, who was trying to block the drive.
The Stanley Cup champion Red Wings were not about to lose three straight for the first time since February.
"We know as a group when that happens you have to pay special attention to your defensive zone and your play in your own end," said defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. "We did a lot better job at that tonight."
Henrik Sedin and Kyle Wellwood, with his fourth goal in six games since being called up from the minors, made it close in the third period as the Canucks stormed the Detroit net.
The Wings improved to 8-2-2 with the victory that concluded a five-game road trip. The Canucks dropped to 6-6-0 as a modest two-game win streak ended.
"If we stay out of the box we win the game," said Vancouver winger Alex Burrows. "Bottom line.
"You can't take sloppy penalties or bad calls or whatever you want to call them. We just have to make sure we stay out of the box and win the game."
Zetterberg, who missed Vancouver's 4-3 overtime win in Detroit on Oct. 16 because of a groin injury, got the winner when the Wings enjoyed a two-man advantage because of cross-checking penalties to Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell.
"I thought both those penalties were questionable," said Vancouver coach Alain Vingeault.
"You're going to get calls like that. You've got to deal with it and kill the penalties. That's what you have to do."
And Detroit did, thanks to extra work in practice.
"We saw a few things we had to work on, mostly communication, putting more pressure on where we can, when it's available to us rather than sitting back on our heels watching them," said Rafalski.
"The power play's going to help us be in all the games and when you have a night like tonight where they're calling penalties it's a good situation."
The Wings, who finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage, were on the power play in the final minute when goalie Chris Osgood preserved the win by smothering a close-in blast from Ryan Kesler with Luongo on the bench for an extra attacker.
The Canucks were constantly in trouble in their own zone during the first two periods and allowed the Wings to quickly exit their own end.
"We were a good second quicker and the (defence) had someone to give the puck to and when we play like that it's easier to get good chances," said Zetterberg, who had a seven-game points streak snapped in Thursday's 4-2 loss in San Jose.
NOTES: Mattias Ohlund played his 700th NHL game, all in Vancouver livery ... he's 71 games behind Harold Snepsts, the all-time Canuck leader for defencemen ... Canuck winger Jannik Hansen was sidelined with a groin injury suffered Friday in Anaheim ... Vancouver plays Nashville on Tuesday to continue a season-high six-game homestand ... the Canucks opened their season with eight of their first eleven games on the road.