DETROIT – It finally happened.
Daniel Cleary’s dubious streak of 19 games without a point – including last spring’s Stanley Cup playoff series against Nashville – came to a screeching halt when the Red Wings’ third-liner slammed in his own rebound during the first period of Thursday’s 5-1 win at St. Louis.
Cleary’s goal, his first since March 19, led a cavalcade points from the bottom six forwards, who, until Thursday, hadn’t produced a single point in the young season.
“It feels good. A whole lot of us felt good about it and realized the importance of it,” Cleary said. “That’s how we’re going to be a successful team by getting some balanced scoring. It was good to get off the schnide, is that what they call it?”
Yes, that’s what they call it.
And the Wings, who desperately need offensive production from other than their two usual suspects, could really use the boost from forwards like Cleary, Cory Emmerton, Justin Abdelkader, Jordin Tootoo, Drew Miller and Tomas Tatar, all of whom registered points in the win over the Blues.
Now, Wings coach Mike Babcock would like to see some consistency from the third- and four-line guys.
“We had real good effort from our bottom six. They all played well and really contributed,” he said. “We left the game feeling good, but the last time we left the rink feeling good we weren’t so good. So it’s important we match last night’s effort. We’ve got a good team like the Oilers coming in so it should be lots of fun.”
The Oilers come in with a speedy, offensively potent group of young stars, meaning the Red Wings can’t afford to give them added opportunities by taking penalties. Detroit did a great job of staying out of the penalty box against the Blues, who were 1-for-2 on the power play.
“Penalty kill has to be better. We might not be a team that's going to score 4-5 every night,” said Abdelkader, who had an assist and was a plus-1 against the Blues. “We got to play well defensively and not give so many chances and so many goals.
“Offensive numbers are going to come and go. I think you can always control your defensive play and attention to detail. You might win some 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 games. You don't need to score four goals every night. We just got to come out with better start.”
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