|Jakub Kindl's power-play goal, his second in the past two games, helped jump start the Red Wings' offense Friday night. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
DETROIT – It’s been so long since Jakub Kindl last scored in back-to-back games that Friday – after he scored in his second consecutive game – he couldn’t clear remember doing so in the past.
“It’s been a while,” the Red Wings’ defenseman said. “I think the last time I did that was back in juniors. It feels good but again I’m glad we go the W. The goal was just a bonus.”
For the second straight game, Kindl scored on the power play, but Friday’s tally came in a winning effort as the Wings cruised to a 4-2 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils at Joe Louis Arena.
It was the first time Kindl scored goals in consecutive games in his six NHL seasons. His second-period, power-play goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday cut the Red Wings’ deficit in half, 16 seconds before Daniel Cleary made it a 2-2 affair.
“That’s good for him,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We keep talking about it, it's an opportunity for him to grab ice time. We put him back on the power play. It's basically up to him and if he plays well, you get more and if you don't, you get less. …. It’s nice to have guys that want to play.”
The Red Wings’ power play is 4-for-9 in the last two games, producing two goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
“The power play's been good this last while here, it's been coming and I think we got two the other night, two tonight and if I'm not mistaken, two a couple games before that. So the power play's been getting better. You're not always going to score but you want to do good things on it, build momentum.”
Screenings by centers Darren Helm and Luke Glendening led to long-distance goals by Kindl and Brendan Smith, respectively, just 33-seconds apart, giving the Red Wings a 2-1 lead before the first intermission.
Kindl’s goal at 18:55 of the first period came from the point, deflected off defenseman Adam Larsson’s stick blade and through traffic as Helm screened Devils goalie Cory Schneider.
“When I saw the replay I thought Helmer tipped it but he did a great screen,” said Kindl, who now has 11 career goals. “I think their guy, it went off his stick or went off someone else’s stick but luckily it went in.”
Since Nicklas Lidstrom retired after the 2011-12 season, scoring from Red Wings’ defensemen has dropped off considerably, totaling 48 goals, including 26 last season. Detroit defensemen combined on 85 goals in Lidstrom’s final two seasons.
Last season, the Wings got scoring from multiple defensemen just once when Smith and Kyle Quincey each scored in Detroit’s 7-4 win over New Jersey on March 7.
Friday was just the third time this season that the Wings have received offensive production out of their defense. Niklas Kronwall scored twice in the Wings’ 4-3 overtime win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.
“It’s always good when we can chip in as much as possible,” Kronwall said of the offensive contribution from the defensemen. “Tonight we got some bounces with us. Smitty made a really nice play and Kuba great shot from the point. Didn’t start great, but once we got going I thought we looked pretty good overall.”
Detroit padded its lead, 3-1, when Johan Franzen scored his first power-play goal at 11:41 of the second period. With Marek Zidlicky off for hooking Riley Sheahan, captain Henrik Zetterberg won the draw clean in the offensive zone. Abdelkader set up shop in front of Schneider and Franzen moved in on the left wing and sent a wrist shot from the bottom of the face-off circle, finding the back of the net just six-seconds into Detroit’s power play.
Kronwall picked up his second point of the night, scoring unassisted at 17:39 on the middle frame, giving Detroit a 4-1 margin. His assist on Franzen’s goal pushed Kronwall ahead of the late Gary Bergman (303 points) for fourth place all-time on the franchise’s scoring list among defensemen.
Without center Pavel Datsyuk (sore groin) in Friday’s lineup, the Red Wings received offensive production from nine different players, including Helm, Joakim Andersson, Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar and Henrik Zetterberg. Each had one assist.
“People have to pick it up more when Pavel’s not in, he’s the Magic Man, one of the best in the world,” Smith said. “It opened the door for some guys to step up. You saw a good game out of (Riley) Sheahan and Glenny, they played more minutes down the middle. Good to have those guys step up, when somebody goes down there’s a door open. You get that opportunity.”