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Mrazek shakes off poor start in 3-2 win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Rookie goalie Petr Mrazek weathered a shaky start to post his fifth victory of the season en route to a 3-2 win for the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)

CALGARY – Good thing Petr Mrazek has the ability to shake off early adversity.

"It's just a goal and it's over. You have to battle,” said Mrazek, who was making his first start Wednesday since Dec. 23. “That was a nice shot and the rebound just wrapped around the net and put it in. I had to shake it off and be ready for the next one.

"That sometimes happens when they score early on. You have to be focused and stay positive and just battle."

Making his seventh start of the NHL campaign, the rookie misplayed the first shot he faced. The miscue led to the Calgary Flames taking an early lead on its second shot. But he settled down against the Flames, making 27 saves on the next 28 shots to lift the Red Wings to a 3-2 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

“Mrazek I think was a little nervous early,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “First goal, first rebound. … After that I thought he settled in and played real well.”

It was Mrazek’s first game at the Saddledome since he made 29 saves in leading the Czech Republic to a 5-2 win over Slovakia in the 2012 World Junior Championships.

"That was nice to see the building again and play here,” said Mrazek, who made 28 saves. “I have great memories in Edmonton and here in Calgary. I was very excited to come back."

For the second straight start, Mrazek gave up a bad goal in the opening three minutes of the first period. Last month, Nicolas Deslauriers gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead on its first shot when he deflected the puck past Mrazek at 2:36. The Wings won that game, 6-3.

Similarly Wednesday night, Mason Raymond provided the Flames with a 1-0 lead on an outstanding hustle play. Streaking down the left wing, the veteran forward wired a hard shot on net. Mrazek made the initial stop but cough up a juicy rebound that Raymond corralled, and without breaking stride, whirled around the net and tucked in a wrap-around goal at 2:27.

"You have to forget the goals because it's a hockey game and who score more goals wins,” Mrazek said. “You have to shake it off and be ready for the next shot."

Mrazek played much better from there, and it didn’t hurt to be lucky, too.

He made a nice second-period save on Sean Monahan, who stole the puck from Xavier Ouellet in the defensive zone and raced in on the Wings’ goalie, who cut down the angle and made the save to preserve the 1-1 score.

The Red Wings erased the one-goal deficit on single scores – one in each period – by Riley Sheahan, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

For the second straight game the Wings’ power play accounted for the game winner when Abdelkader collected his career-high 11th goal of the season.

Zetterberg’s 10th of the season came on a night that he became the 15th player in franchise history to play in career game No. 800.

"Obviously it's always nice to get goals nowadays,” the Wings’ captain said. “But obviously in this game it's a little more special."

Seems Abdelkader enjoys playing in Alberta. The Red Wings forward picked up two more points Tuesday; including his career-high 11th goal of the season that gave Detroit a 3-1 lead at 2:03 of the third period.

Mikael Backlund’s short-handed goal sliced into Detroit’s lead at 5:13 of the third.

It was good to be lucky too for Mrazek. Midway through the third period, a Flames player hit the near post behind the Wings’ goalie. The puck ricocheted off Mrazek’s back and rolled along the goal line before just missing the far post and exiting the crease.

Then the Flames had the potential tying goal disallowed twice in the final 80 seconds. With 1:20 left in the regulation when Mrazek had his helmet knocked off in a collision with Flames forward Curtis Glencross. Then with 30.1 seconds left, Dennis Wideman had his goal waved off late when a lineman whistled off sides.

"The guy was, I think, in the crease and he got pushed by (Jonathan Ericsson),” Mrazek said. “My mask just fell off. I think that was a good no goal."

The Red Wings (22-10-9) finished the first half of their six-game road trip with a 2-1-0 record through their Western Canada swing.

“It was a good trip,” Babcock said. “It was 2-1 in Vancouver with two minutes left and you give up a pair of empty-net goals. I thought we played well in Vancouver, we controlled a lot of that game and didn’t score, specialty teams weren’t as good as they should have been. But a good trip. Our team played well and we think we’re getting better. That’s what it’s all about.”

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