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Miller's redemption in Wings' win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Drew Miller celebrates with teammates after the Red Wings regained a 3-2 lead in Vancouver Thursday night/ (Photo by Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia Drew Miller ended a personal 17-game scoreless streak earlier this week in Calgary, and Thursday, less than two-minutes after his turnover led to the Canucks tying the score, the Red Wings’ veteran forward didn’t let his misfortune get him – or the team – down.

“You make mistakes out there and you go back to the bench and regroup,” Miller said. “Not to be too mad at myself, but things happen, and I told myself that, ‘You gotta go out there and try to make a difference.’ ”

The Wings retook the lead, 3-2, when Miller scored late in the third period.

“I guess scoring a goal is the best way to (redeem yourself) and get that goal back for the team,” he said.

Though it took a shoot-out to eventually decide the outcome of Thursday’s match-up of the two top teams in the Western Conference, Miller’s determination not to let a mistake get him down proved critical for the Wings in a 4-3 victory at Rogers Arena.

For the Wings, who have uncharacteristically struggled at times on the road this season, Thursday’s game might have been their most dominating performance away from Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit held a 30-11 advantage in shots on goal through two periods, but Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo came up huge, particularly on first-period breakaways by Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen. Forward Valtteri Filppula also had a clear break in on the Canucks’ goalie, but the Wings’ Finnish star lost control of the puck before he could get a shot off.

The Wings’ success stemmed from their ability to maintain puck-possession and limiting the Canucks’ offensive chances. And the Canucks’ battle level was also relatively quiet against the Wings, who clamped down on Vancouver’s forwards while not giving them much room to operate in the offensive zone.

“I thought we got on top of their D when we could to put pressure on them, and when we had the puck we spent more time in their zone, hanging onto it,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I thought we played better in our own zone, too. They didn’t pin us down that much, especially in the first two periods. I thought we were able to stop the cycle and go on offense right away.”

So frustrated were the Canucks that coach Alain Vigneault resorting to changing up the forward lines, even splitting up the Sedin twins, until reuniting Daniel and Henrik in the five-minute overtime period.

“If you’re their coach and they’ve got eight shots, or whatever, through two periods, you’re doing something, that’s what he does, that’s what he gets paid to do,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a real good coach and he’s trying to get his guys going, and I thought he got his guys going.”

With the Wings holding a 2-1 lead, Miller coughed up the puck as he began a rush out of the Detroit zone. His turnover led to an immediate game-tying goal by Alex Burrows at 10:10 of the third period. But two-minutes later, with the Wings pressing deep in the Canucks’ zone, Miller used defenseman Dan Hamhuis as a screen and fired a loose puck past Luongo at 12:05.

Like they did earlier this season when they were dealing with a six-game slump, the Wings seem to have washed away the notion that they have a problem of winning games on the road. Considering the Wings are currently riding a 17-game home winning streak, they have now won five of the last seven games away from JLA.

“This is what we wanted to do on this trip. After the break, we wanted to come out with a good start again and especially on the road, these two games have shown that too, that we can play solidly on the road.

“I don’t know if we’ve gotten over the hump on the road, the points are still going to be hard to get here in the second half of the season. We know it’s going to be important, but I think we proved to ourselves that we can play that kind of hockey, that kind of grinding style on the road and we don’t have to open ourselves up defensively. We can bear down and play solid D and still get away with a win.”

The Wings won the game in the shoot-out, getting goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler, while goalie Jimmy Howard – who stopped 22 shots in the game – halted attempts by Alex Edler and Mason Raymond.

Detroit is now 6-0 in shoot-out gmes this season.

“We can put anybody in the shoot-out,” said Hudler, who second-period goal gave the Wings a 2-1 lead. “We have 12 guys, who can really stick-handle and that’s good, those extra points are important for us.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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