The last thing the Detroit Red Wings
needed before a California road trip was to see Roberto Luongo
in the other net. But the Wings didn’t put together the National Hockey League’s best record by backing down from a challenge.
Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak when Henrik Zetterberg beat Luongo for the only goal of the shootout, giving the Wings a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Dominik Hasek stopped all three Vancouver attempts in the shootout as the Wings bounced back from a 5-1 home loss to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock didn’t downplay the importance of heading out on the road with a win.
“We knew it would be tough. The first time we lost a couple games (the Wings also lost three in a row from Nov. 11-17), we went to Columbus and won the same way (in a shootout),” Babcock said.
“It’s a good thing to happen. You have to go through some tough times in your season to know how to respond to a little adversity, otherwise it comes to playoff time and you’re not prepared for it. It’s a battle every night.”
The Wings led 2-0 midway through the second period on a pair of goals by Dan Cleary, but let the lead slip away and faced the possibility of a fourth straight loss when they were unable to get another puck past Luongo, who stopped 47 shots.
Zetterberg helped make sure that wouldn’t happen. Shooting second in the tiebreaker, he went to his backhand after a fake and slipped the puck between the pads of Luongo ( 700K ).
“I could have gone high, but he opened up the five-hole,” Zetterberg said. “Luongo played a great game.”
Vancouver’s world-class netminder had equal praise for his opponent.
“It was a simple-yet-brilliant play,” Luongo said of Zetterberg’s shot selection. “He carried from his forehand to his backhand, waited for the opening and put it five-hole.”
Hasek, who also looked strong in making 28 saves, denied Alexander Edler, Trevor Linden and Taylor Pyatt to secure the two points. Edler and Linden had combined to score six goals in their seven previous shootout attempts.
“It came to overtime and penalty shots, and we scored one and they didn’t get anything,” Hasek said.
Henrik Sedin and Markus Naslund scored in regulation for the Canucks, now 25-17-5, who moved into a tie with the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division. Luongo was spectacular all game long and excelled in overtime, making five saves — including a couple after he drew a delay of game penalty for paddling the puck over the glass following a chest save on a Nicklas Lidstrom shot.
“We knew it would be tough to get pucks past him, but we kept going and finally it went in,” said Zetterberg, who entered 2-for-8 in shootouts this season. “It’s nice to get back on a winning track. We have a tough road trip in front of us, but a fun one.”
Detroit will hold its third annual “Father’s Trip” in conjunction with a three-game jaunt through San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim that begins Saturday. Instituted by the family-conscious Babcock when he became the Wings’ coach, the popular practice provides bonding time away from the rink for players and their fathers — but first the team needed to take care of business on the ice.
The Wings outshot Vancouver 16-5 in the first period and got the only goal when Cleary tipped Andreas Lilja’s shot past Luongo at 18:16 ( 700K ).
Cleary made it 2-0 at 1:51 of the second period with his 18th of the season. Valtteri Filppula wrestled the puck free along the boards and fed Cleary in front for a backhander that found the back of the net ( 700K ).
"Fil made a real heady play," Cleary said. "Drew a lot of guys to him. I just went to the net. I just tried to get a stick on it as much as I could."
The Canucks, though dominated for most of the first two periods, pulled even with a pair late in the middle period. Sedin picked up his ninth when he deflected Sami Salo’s shot from the point past Hasek at 15:21 ( 700K ). Markus Naslund, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, was credited with his 16th with 1:52 left in the period when his attempted centering pass was redirected into the net off the skate of Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski ( 700K ).
Cleary had a golden opportunity to complete the hat trick and put the Wings back in front in the third period, but Luongo got across the net to make a shoulder save on his rising shot from the left side.
“He should’ve had four,” Babcock said with a laugh. “He was unbelievable. He had two point-blank chances and Roberto Luongo made huge saves to keep the game even.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.