DETROIT – Jimmy Howard knew it was a long time, but not that long between regulation wins against Chicago.
“Nah, is it that long?” Howard asked.
Yes, indeed, more than 3 ½ years past since Howard last defeated the Blackhawks without a game going beyond 60 minutes.
Friday’s 4-1 win may have been Howard’s best performance of the season.
He is at the top of his game right now and making save after save,” said Luke Glendening, who had the first two-point effort of his career Friday. “Tonight again he made some humungous saves for us to stay in the game.
“Beating Chicago has got to give him a lot of confidence. He played outstanding and he was probably our best player tonight and some nights that’s what you need.”
The last time Howard claimed a regular-season victory in regulation over the Blackhawks was April 10, 2011 at the United Center. Since then, he’d gone 1-5-4 in 10 starts against Chicago. His lone victory during that stretch was a 3-2 overtime decision on Jan. 14, 2012.
The first two periods were the best played by the Red Wings this season. And as he’s been throughout the first five weeks of the season, Howard was simply spectacular, especially in the first 20 minutes when he stymied Chicago forward Patrick Kane not once, but twice in a sequence.
“He made some big saves there from the beginning,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Kane came in and had had two shots in a row and came up huge. If he would have scored a goal it would have been a different game.”
Howard down played his role on Kane.
“That one was just tracking the puck,” he said. “He came in, you knew he was going to have a good shot, he was going to try to go high glove, he got a couple whacks at it, was just able to get my glove on it before he got it there under the bar.”
The only goal that Howard surrendered was on Kane’s laser off a centering pass from Jonathan Toews on the Chicago’s first power play opportunity of the game. Kane’s fifth goal of the season tied the score, 1-1, at 11:16 of the opening period.
The Red Wings seemingly took full advantage of a four-day layoff as they showed no ill-effects of rust, firing 37 shots on goal at Chicago goalie Corey Crawford – the most shots given up by the Blackhawks this season.
Detroit’s first three goals all came courtesy of uncharacteristic turnovers by the Blackhawks. Miscues by Kris Versteeg, Kane and David Rundblad led to goals by Glendening, Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar as Detroit cruised to a 3-1 lead through two periods.
It was certainly good to see the Wings get offensive contributions from three of their four forward lines.
“Yeah, it’s great,” Tatar said. “This is why I think every line felt pretty good because all different lines scored tonight and that’s huge. Everybody is feeling good about themselves and every line feels that they’ve done a good job.”
Looking ahead, the Red Wings might need the rest gained from four straight off days as they will now play 12 games in the next 23 days, lasting into the first week of December.
“Everybody likes to play a game,” Tatar said. “Hopefully we’ll find energy for every night and play good so everybody will be happy, we will get some points.”
The Wings (8-3-5) host Atlantic Division-leading Montreal this Sunday. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by CLICKING HERE.
The Canadiens had the Wings a 2-1 overtime loss at Bell Centre on Oct. 21.
“They’re playing well and they’re a great team and we have to come out with our best effort,” said Glendening, who also assisted on Tatar’s goal. “With the building the way it was tonight was pretty ecstatic so it was a fun place to play and we’ll need the same on Sunday.
“It’s awesome when you can feel the energy in the building and it goes a long way.”