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Joke is on Kings in Wings' win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Zetterberg accounted for a third of the Red Wings' shots of goal and half of their goals in Friday's 4-3 comeback win over Los Angeles. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – Friday was like April Fools' Day had come early to Joe Louis Arena.

“We looked up, I don't know when it was, we had four shots, I think it was in the second,” Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg said. “It's very unusual for us.”

Believe it, or not, the Wings fired a season-low 15 shots on goal Friday, yet managed to beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, by scoring two goals in the final four-minutes of the game.

The Wings entered Friday’s game with the fifth-best shots total per game in the league, averaging 32.6 shots. However, the last time Detroit registered 15 or fewer shots was on April 1, 2004 when they squeaked out 12 shots to defeat the Blues, 3-2, in St. Louis.

But give credit to the Kings’ defense for bottling up the Wings’ forwards and making life miserable for much of the night, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

“Obviously it was a grind out fest, every time you put your uniform on you expect to win and yet some nights are more challenging than others and this was one of them,” he said. “We knew we had a team that was real desperate and we had a lot of kids playing. We hung in there, hung around, got good goaltending and won a game.”

Already without the services of several key veterans sidelined by injuries, the Wings learned at game-time that center Justin Abdelkader (flu) wasn’t well enough to dress. Fortunately, Detroit knew of the situation early enough in the day that they were able to recall center Joakim Andersson from Grand Rapids. Andersson skated eight shifts and collected four hits and went 4-for-5 in the face-off circle.

The Wings’ roster could have been called “East” Grand Rapids with so many Griffins’ players migrating from the west side of Michigan for Friday’s game. Besides Andersson, the Griffins were represented by defensemen Branden Smith and Doug Janik, forward Gustav Nyquist and goalie Joey MacDonald and his backup Jordan Pearce.

Two rookies – Smith and Nyquist – helped set-up the tying and winning goals, respectively. Nyquist played a pivotal role in setting up Darren Helm’s second game-winning goal of the season, getting the play started deep in the Kings’ zone when he made a pass to Johan Franzen.

“It started with the entire shift, we controlled the puck, kept it in the zone, move it around and were cycling it pretty well,” Helm said. “It got back to Gus who made a nice play to Mule and I saw Mule take a look and we made eye-contact and I knew that I just had to get to the net and he made a nice pass. It was just a strong play on the stick and it went in.”

Whether or not the team’s low shot total can be pinned in the Wings’ youth movement, who knows, but their eight shots through the first 40-minutes of a game tied a 31-year-old low mark set in a 4-2 loss to Edmonton on March 28, 1981.

“We'd like to have more support for those guys but they carried us and did a real good job and I thought we got a big night out of (Cory) Emmerton and his group with (Drew) Miller and (Danny) Cleary,” Babcock said. “We didn't get (Andersson's) group out there as much as they'd like but that's just the way the game went.”

Zetterberg accounted for a third of the Wings’ shot total and half of their goals, potting one each in the first and second periods. Valtteri Filppula scored the tying goal with 4:02 left in the third period.

“I mean, that top line kind of carried us with three of the goals,” Helm said. “The younger guys did play well, I thought they played really well, and when they can go out and create energy and play well defensively it gives guys like Hank and Fil and (Jiri Hudler) chances to go out there and do what they do.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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