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Mule gives kick to power play

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT Johan Franzen broke the Red Wings’ 0-18 power play streak in overtime last Saturday night in Minnesota. And it was Franzen again who kept the power play production going tonight as the Wings scored three times on the man-advantage en route to a 5-2 win over Columbus at Joe Louis Arena.

Despite failing to capitalize on the first 18 power play opportunities of the season, the Wings’ special teams have been in full force ever since Franzen crashed into the Wild’s net last week just behind the puck.

The first goal tonight came at 9:03 in the first period during a holding penalty to the Blue Jackets’ RJ Umberger. Valtteri Filppula left the puck sitting for Franzen who lifted it above Columbus goaltender Steve Mason’s glove hand.

Less than six minutes later the same line did it again while Derek Mackenzie sat in the box for slashing. Franzen recovered his own rebound and sent Mason digging into the back of the net. Filppula assisted again.

“Good to get a couple on the power play,” Franzen said after the game. “We needed that for sure. We've been struggling a little bit.''

The last time Franzen had a multi-goal game was during his sensational performance last February when he put five—including the game-winner—in on the Ottawa Senators.

Early in the third period the Wings gave up a goal while Nicklas Lidstrom did time for hooking.
“I thought we were through that penalty kill,” coach Mike Babcock said of the Blue Jackets’ second goal. “We just got caught a little bit high.”

It didn’t take long for Detroit — on yet another power play — to bounce back.
On a 5-on-3 opportunity, Lidstrom buried a slap shot behind Mason. Lidstrom has 129 career regular-season power play goals and two goals this season.

The Wings have now scored four power play goals during 24 opportunities. They have let in three goals during 15 shorthanded penalty kills.

“Even tonight with all of the power-play goals, you know, Mule’s group got two of them,” Babcock said. “Normally, Pav and Z and those guys would be carrying us in that area, so I think that’s a sign of good things to come. We have good depth on our team up front. That’s a positive thing.”

“I think we were shooting the puck,” goalie Jimmy Howard said of why the power play opportunities were clicking tonight. “We weren’t trying to be fancy at all; we were just putting the puck on net and retrieving it and slamming it right back down their throats. Whenever you just keep it simple and you fire the puck the good things happen.”

Good things certainly happened.

Filppula and Franzen both ended the game with four points each.

"A one-point night is a big night,” Filppula said. “Four-point nights, you don't get those too often, especially me."

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