CALGARY – Justin Abdelkader’s next goal will establish a new career high for the Red Wings forward, and chances are it won’t occur on home ice.
Sure, the Red Wings’ next four games are on the road, but even if they weren’t Abdelkader has a better than 66 percent of scoring in enemy territory than he does in the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena.
“For whatever reason I’ve always scored more goals on the road,” said Abdelkader, who scored in the Wings’ 4-2 win at Edmonton on Tuesday. “I don’t know what it is. I got to try to change it up. I always enjoy playing in Western Canada.”
Of Abdelkader’s 48 career goals, he has registered 32 goals in 18 different cities that don’t begin with the letter D. He has scored twice before at the Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Red Wings will face-off against the Calgary Flames tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST.
Through 33 games this season, Abdelkader’s 10 goals ranks fourth on the team, behind only Tomas Tatar (16), Gustav Nyquist (15) and Pavel Datsyuk (14). Abdelkader also has a team-best plus-8 rating and 74 hits.
Tuesday at Rexall Place, Abdelkader posted his second three-point performance of the season, adding two assists to go with his second-period power-play goal. He also had a three-point performance at Washington on Oct. 29.
“He’s been good all year,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s been fun to play with him, he works really hard. I don’t think he gets enough credit. He creates a lot of open space for his teammates.”
Abdelkader’s physical style has been quite beneficial for the Red Wings. He’s become especially difficult to play against, especially in the offensive zone where he’s been exceptional at retrieving the puck.
“He’s a good player and he can play with and without the puck,” coach Mike Babcock said. “You can play him against the best people. He knows how to play in all situations. He penalty kills, (plays) power play for us. He’s an important young player for us.”
Abdelkader has 11 assists and 21 points, which is seven shy of his single-season high set in 2013-14.
Right Wing - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 10 | Pts: 12
Shots: 63 | +/-: 7
With 1:14 left in the second period Tuesday, Toms Jurco delivered a hit on Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry in the offensive zone. It was the last thing the Red Wings’ young forward did Tuesday as he did not return for the third period.
According to Jurco, the hit didn’t have any bearing on his lower back, which has been bothersome lately.
“It’s been a little sore for a while and (Tuesday) it got really bad,” he said. “I just had to get out of the game.”
Jurco’s status is day to day. He will sit out tonight’s game here in Calgary. Joakim Andersson, who has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games, will replace Jurco on the fourth line with forward Drew Miller and center Luke Glendening.
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.35 | Sv%: .917
Third-string goalie Petr Mrazek
will make his seventh start of the season tonight for the Red Wings who are playing the second of back-to-back games in Alberta.
A workhorse during his two-plus season with AHL Grand Rapids, Mrazek has posted a 4-2-1 record with a 2.35 goals-against average and .917 save percentage with the Red Wings this season.
“If I’m playing here one game in 10 days or two weeks,” he said, “it’s much better than playing three games in the AHL. The level here is so much higher.”
Babcock isn’t concerned that the lesser workload leaves Mrazek ill-prepared.
“I don’t spend a whole lot of time worry about it,” Babcock said. “I just know in this league when you get your starts you got to win or else you don’t get the starts. His job is to be a pro and be ready. We got a good goalie coach (Jim Bedard) and they work hard.”
Right Wing - DET
Goals: 15 | Assists: 11 | Pts: 26
Shots: 94 | +/-: -6
The NHL announced Wednesday that they have levied a $2,000 fine on Gustav Nyquist
for a diving/embellishment incident on Dec. 29 in Boston.
Nyquist was issued a warning following an occurrence at New Jersey on Nov. 28. His second league citation triggered the $2,000 fine. Bruins forward Chris Kelly received a minor penalty for tripping on the same play at 15:55 of the second period.
LAST-MINUTE MAN: Datsyuk lift the Red Wings to their fourth victory in their past six games Tuesday with his last-minute, power-play goal that broke a 2-2 tie at 19:26. He became the 12th NHL player to post a game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation this season, the second to do so in as many nights. San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored at 19:55 at Winnipeg on Monday.
Datsyuk has scored two other tie-breaking goals in the final minute of regulation during his career – Oct. 23, 2010 vs. Anaheim (19:48) and Feb. 17, 2012 vs. Nashville (19:54). He ranks second on the Red Wings with 14 goals and 30 points in 29 games, despite missing 11 games with two separate injuries.
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 9 | Assists: 25 | Pts: 34
Shots: 128 | +/-: E
Zetterberg will play career game No. 800 tonight when the Red Wings face the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The captain, who has produced 288 goals and 754 points in his career, becomes the 15th all-time player to join the club’s milestone group.
Here are the other 14 members of the Wings’ 800 Club:
Gordie Howe (1,687), Nicklas Lidstrom (1,564), Alex Delvecchio (1,549), Steve Yzerman (1,514), Kris Draper (1,137), Tomas Holmstrom (1,026), Marcel Pronovost (983), Sergei Fedorov (908), Kirk Maltby (908), Norm Ullman (875), Ted Lindsay (862), Nick Libett (861), Datsyuk (853), and Red Kelly (846).