Two Red Wings goalies combine to shut out CanucksNHL.com @NHLdotcom
The return of coach John Tortorella and captain Henrik Sedin did not help the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
Justin Abdelkader scored twice and Jimmy Howard made 16 saves in relief to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-0 win against the Canucks at Joe Louis Arena.
"Tonight was a game we had to grind out, our third game in four nights," Abdelkader told Fox Sports Detroit. "A lot of times you don't have the most energy out there, but you have to buckle down, play good defense ? I thought [Jimmy] did a good job coming in for [Jonas Gustavsson] in the second and third period ??? and we found a way to win."
It was the Canucks' fourth loss in a row; Vancouver was 2-4-0 while Tortorella was serving a 15-day suspension and Sedin was sidelined with a rib injury.
"We're going to keep on banging away to try to get better," Tortorella said. "But I tell you, it's very frustrating to see the same looks. It worries me, I'll leave it at that, it really worries me."
Detroit (25-19-12) got its first regulation win since Jan. 24 and second since Jan. 11. The Red Wings, 5-2-2 in their past nine games, do not play at home again in February.
"It was a huge two points for us and we just have to keep this rolling into the Olympic break," Howard said.
Gustavsson started in goal for the Red Wings, but he did not take the net for the second period because of dizziness. He made eight saves.
It was Detroit's first combined shutout since Oct. 27, 2001, when Manny Legace and Dominik Hasek defeated the Nashville Predators 1-0.
"Sometimes it's a crap shoot. You never really know until you get in there," Howard said. "Some nights like that can go your way and then other nights it can go in the complete opposite direction. Each time is different, and you just have to be ready to the best of your capabilities."
With Howard in goal, the Red Wings took a 1-0 lead 1:08 into the second period when Abdelkader's shot from above the left faceoff circle beat Canucks goalie Eddie Lack high to the stick side and went off the near post and in.
Henrik Zetterberg gained possession behind the net and backhanded a pass to Abdelkader. Gustav Nyquist also had an assist. That line combined for four goals and four assists in a 6-5 overtime loss at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
"My linemates have been doing a good job," Abdelkader said. "[Zetterberg] did a really good job on that first goal, finding me [high], and [Gustav] did a good job getting the puck back on the forecheck."
Abdelkader scored his eighth goal of the season into an empty net with 16 seconds remaining and the Red Wings on a power play. He has three goals in the past two games after going 12 straight without one.
"I think we're just building chemistry each game, and we know where each other is on the ice and the spots we need to go to get open," he said. "I think we're just really feeding off each other well."
Lack made 27 saves in his second straight start. The Canucks (27-21-9), who play at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, have four regulation wins in their past 17 games.
Tortorella was coaching for the first time since he was suspended after a dressing-room confrontation with the Calgary Flames between the first and second periods of their game Jan. 18. That was Sedin's last game before Monday, with his consecutive-games-played streak ending at 679.
Vancouver's David Booth, a Detroit native, failed to score on a penalty shot he was awarded after being held by Jakub Kindl on a breakaway at 4:41 of the second period.
The Canucks did not have a shot on goal in the third period until 5:36 remained. They wound up with three.
"It was set up for us to push back and we didn't," Tortorella said. "Didn't get enough big plays from big people, right on through our lineup. We have to crawl out of this hole somehow."
Earlier Monday, the Canucks acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for forward Dale Weise. Diaz is expected to play Tuesday.