DETROIT – Not since his days with the Vancouver Canucks has Todd Bertuzzi made such as impact on the power play as he did Saturday night for the Red Wings.
“I’ve been off and on sparingly, so when I’m on there I have to make sure to take full advantage when I’m out there,” he said. “Do the little things, be strong on the faceoff for the guys, get the puck back to them and get in front of the net.”
Bertuzzi led a parade of power-play goals as the Red Wings recovered from two straight losses to beat the listless Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, at Joe Louis Arena.
Bertuzzi was on the ice for four of the Wings’ goals, scoring one on the power play and raising havoc as a net-front presence on power-play tallies by Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk, who also had two assists each.
Bertuzzi’s goal was his first on the power play since he accounted for the Wings’ lone goal in a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 24, 2010.
Finally, the Wings ended their power play drought. They were 3-for-6 against the Flyers, registering their first multiple power-play goal game since a three-PPG effort in a 4-0 win over Phoenix late last season. It’s the second straight time the Red Wings have been the last team in the league to score a power-play goal to start a season. Detroit started out 0-for-15 last year. Prior to Bertuzzi’s goal, the Wings were 0-for-10 through the first four games of this season.
“When you haven’t scored on the power play and you have that many weapons it gets a little bit frustrating at times,” said Bertuzzi, who logged a game-high 5:24 of power play time. “It’s just a matter of winning the little battles down low, getting the puck back and shooting the puck.”
Bertuzzi’s goal, set-up by Daniel Alfredsson, gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the first period. Alfredsson, who had three assists, swept the puck toward the side of the net from the corner, and Bertuzzi skated undetected from around the back of the cage to knock the puck past Flyers goalie Ray Emery.
Bertuzzi was also affective on the Wings’ top line where he replaced Justin Abdelkader. Henrik Zetterberg, who had a three-point effort with two goals, said playing with Bertuzzi is akin to Abdelkader.
“I think the changes that were made were with similar players that were moved around,” Zetterberg said. “So Abby left our line and Bert came in, big guys who skate well and hang onto the puck, so it was an easy transition for everyone.”
Abdelkader was moved to the second line where he worked with center Stephen Weiss and forward Johan Franzen. But clearly, the player that seemed to benefit most from the line shuffling was Bertuzzi.
“I thought he was steady,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The big thing with Bert – as long as he gets to the net and he takes care of the puck – then things will work out real good for him. It was good for us, and then Abby playing on another line gave us another good line. I liked our lines. They hardly played their fourth line so I hardly played mine, but I thought those guys were fine, too.’’
Detroit scored its second power-play goal in the second period when Niklas Kronwall’s snap shot beat Emery high to the short side. But it was screen out from of the crease by Bertuzzi that helped give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
“He did a great job,” Kronwall said. “Being in the right spot and the right time on the first one, tucking it pretty fast, then being a great net-front presence on a couple of the other goals. He did a great job for us in the aspect for us tonight.
“We’re going to need him to use his big body, especially playing in the East where there’s a lot of big boys.”
Facing the second game of a back to back, the Flyers were without Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lacavalier who were both injured in their 2-1 loss to Phoenix on Friday. The Flyers are 1-2-0 since coach Craig Berube took over for Peter Laviolette, who was fired on Monday after the team started the season with three straight losses.
Despite being outshot, 34-30, the Wings’ five-goal performance was propelled by an upswing in the intensity category.
“It was much needed,” Bertuzzi said, of the win. “I still think we had too many turnovers in the neutral zone. We have to be a little bit smarter with the puck. But I thought overall we did a lot of good things out there.”
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