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Backhand Luke scores on forehand

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Luke Glendening scores the tying goal in the second period, whipping out the Red Wings' two-goal deficit against the New York Rangers Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Can’t call him Backhand Luke anymore.

The Red Wings’ young center scored his first-ever NHL goal while using the front of his stick blade Saturday.

“Yeah, I don’t score many, so when I can get one on the forehand it’s nice,” Luke Glendening said.

Glendening’s tying goal wiped out a two-goal deficit and sent the Red Wings on their way to a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Rangers at Joe Louis Arena.

Riley Sheahan and Darren Helm also scored even-strength goals for the Red Wings.

Glendening’s fourth career regular-season goal was his first that didn’t come from a backhanded shot. His previous four goals all came on the backhand against Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen, Boston’s Tuukka Rask (playoffs) and Montreal’s Carey Price.

Sixty-one seconds after Sheahan scored, Glendening’s goal sent the home crowd into an absolute frenzied state late in the second period. With a scrum in front of Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot, Glendening drove the net from the slot to score his third of the season. Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller assisted on the tying goal at 14:14 of the middle frame.

“Miller made a heck of a play there to get the puck to the net and I think Andy got a whack at it,” Glendening said. “It was just laying there for me.”

The game certainly didn’t start out the way the Red Wings would have hoped. For the first time in four games, they had to overcome a first-period deficit when the Rangers took a two-goal lead into the first intermission.

Coach Mike Babcock has repeatedly said that catch-up hockey is losing hockey, but in a strange kind of way the Red Wings have perfected that brand this season.

“We’ve been doing a lot of that, but we’ve got to get playing better in the first period,” Glendening said. “It’s going to catch up to us eventually if we’re having to put so much energy into the second and third. We have to play better in the first, but we’re still working on it.”

After Helm scored the go-ahead goal, the Red Wings found themselves down two men twice for a combined 2:36 after Kyle Quincey received a double-minor high-sticking penalty, followed by Jonathan Ericsson’s high-sticking call.

The Wings’ penalty killers – led by Glendening and Drew Miller, who combined had more than 13 minutes of short-handed ice time – were relentless in preserving the one-goal lead.

“I thought it was incredible,” said Babcock of the team’s PK unit. “Anytime you put your sticks up where they can make calls, it’s tough when you’re (down) 5 on 3. It’s really tough. I thought our guys really gutted it out and dug in. Sometimes those guys don’t score as much for us. When you think of the guys who today did some scoring for us, they’re real competitive guys that penalty kill and grind for us. That’s what you need in some games.”

Goalie Jimmy Howard settled down after the first period, finishing with 27 saves to run his record to 13-5-4 this season.

“It would be nice to get started on time one of these games,” Howard said. “We got to keep working at it. I don’t really have the answer why it’s happening but it is. At the same time we’re doing a lot of great things out there and we’re winning games.”

With the win, Babcock became the 19th coach in league history to collect win No. 500 in his career, tying legendary Montreal coach Toe Blake.

“Don’t get me wrong, 500’s great,” said Babcock, in his 10th season in Detroit. “Doing it with so many good players and good teams is really great. When you start in the league, you’re hoping to coach 82 games, to be honest with you. You’re just hoping to get through and not get fired. Your second year, you’re hoping to get another 82, and then you don’t think about it anymore. You kind of have the same mind you had when you coached college hockey. You just coach and do what you love to do. To have 500 wins in the National Hockey League means I’ve coached a lot of good players, but I like the fact that I’ve done it fairly quickly, too. That’s positive. It’s been enjoyable. I love it as much or maybe more as the day I started.”

With the team’s next win, the 51-year-old Babcock will tie newly-minted hall of fame coach Pat Burns. Former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman sits atop of the all-time coaching list with 1,244 career wins.

“The big one for me is obviously Scotty Bowman because he’s such a good friend of mine,” Babcock said. “Scotty Bowman’s always going to be the greatest coach in our game because it’s impossible in the era today to do what Scotty did. When you’re a friend of his, it’s good. He’s the guy who did it quicker than I did, and he should do it quicker. I feel like that. It’s positive.”

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