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Downey; Drake get Wings' firsts

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – A pair of forwards had season firsts in the Red Wings’ 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

Aaron Downey, who signed with the Wings as a free agent on the opening day of the season, got his first point in a Detroit uniform, and Dallas Drake scored his first goal as a Red Wings since the 1993-94 season.

Downey recorded his 14th career NHL point when he assisted on Johan Franzen’s second period goal that gave the Wings a 2-0 lead at 7:28.

Downey’s pretty pass sent Franzen away on a breakaway.

“It felt like somebody came inside my body and gave me some skill for a couple of seconds and made me look like a player,” Downey said. “It’s real special being here every day. The work ethic alone and the leadership in this locker room, I think if guys take advantage of their chances, there is room for improvement here as a hockey player.”

Downey’s last point came as a member of the Montreal Canadiens last season when he scored in a 4-1 win at Washington on Dec. 27, 2006.

As for Drake, who returned to his NHL roots as a free agent in July, netting his first goal since Valentine’s Day last season, was a relief.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Drake, who was Detroit’s sixth-round draft pick in 1989. “I just told some guys in there that the last time I scored I think there was an eclipse. It feels good.”

700 Club: Captain Nicklas Lidstrom had two assists Wednesday, giving him 700 helpers in his 15-season career. His milestone assist came in the third period. His shot from the point redirected off the shaft of Pavel Datsyuk’s stick and past Stars' goalie Marty Turco for a 4-0 lead.

Lidstrom now has 906 points in 1,217 games.

Maltby eyes return: Kirk Maltby skated during the Wings’ morning skate on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Maltby, who has been out of the lineup since suffering an injured lower back against Calgary on Nov. 27, hopes to return to the roster in the next couple of weeks.

“The back is feeling a lot better,” said Maltby, who has three goals and three assists in 24 games. “Now it’s just getting the legs and the lungs back into game shape, and the only way you can do it is on the ice and getting into some games.”

Maltby tried skating a week after the injury, but suffered a setback in Montreal on Dec. 3 that required a visit to a specialist. He has missed 17 games.

“Hopefully, a week of practice here and then I’d like to get into a game in the next two weeks,” Maltby said. “As long as we don’t have any setbacks, that’s my game plan. I guess I need to talk to the coaching staff and trainers too, but that’s the way I’m treating it and looking at it in order to get myself ready.”


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