SAN JOSE, Calif. – It’s not that they want to play from behind, but the Red Wings seem to have a knack for it.
“There’s just so much character in the room, it starts with the leadership,” said Luke Glendening, the former captain at the University of Michigan who knows something about locker room influence.
Trailing 2-1 in the third period Thursday, the Wings got goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Glendening in the final 6:28 of regulation to pull out a 3-2 comeback victory over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
“Just resiliency,” Jimmy Howard said. “I don’t think we feel we’re ever out of the game. We just keep playing until the final buzzer. It’s great to see, especially from a young team. I think a lot of guys are maturing throughout the year. It’s going to be great down the stretch and into the playoffs.”
It was the Wings’ eighth win of the season when trailing after two periods (8-11-2), which ranks them third in the NHL behind Calgary (10-16-2) and Anaheim (9-17-0).
Much of the credit, Glendening says, goes to the team’s leadership group, led by captain Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Datsyuk.
“Z’s out right now, but he’s led the way so many times, and Kronner and Pav, it starts with those guys and trickles down to the rest of us,” Glendening said.
Slow starts have been an unexplainable theme at times for the Wings, who have trailed 16 times after one period (9-6-1), including the past two games.
“That has been the case a few too many times obviously,” Kronwall said. “We’d like to have a better start and keep going from there. We have to do a lot better because we can’t count on Howie to come up huge for us every night like that. So we need better starts.”
The Sharks managed to get out on top of the Wings in the first, blitzing the offensive zone by out-shooting Detroit 14-4 while taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
“We weren’t very impressed with our first (period) but we’re a good skating team when we want to play and we’re competitive,” coach Mike Babcock said. “If you compete at a high level you have a chance and that’s what the game’s all about. The game is fair every night. If you compete hard you get rewarded and if you don’t you’re not rewarded.”
Defense - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 7 | Pts: 10
Shots: 61 | +/-: -1
The league wasted little time in levying a $5,000 fine – the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement – on Sharks forward Logan Couture for slew-footing Wings defenseman Brendan Smith
The incident occurred at 16:03 of the third period as the two plays engaged in front of the Wings’ net. Couture was assessed a minor penalty for tripping and Smith went to the box for hooking on the play.
“He just got slew footed there and fell on his hand so we’ll see,” Babcock said. “(Friday) when we’re traveling we’ll get that figured out.”
Smith wasn’t injured from the slew-foot, however, seconds before the incident, he winched in pain when he was struck in the right hand by a Brent Burns’ shot from the point.
TIMEOUT: Following a first-period icing, Babcock used his timeout to settle down the Red Wings just 6:08 into the game. The Sharks were definitely the aggressors throughout the first, but even more so before the timeout. San Jose rattled off the first six shots of the game, while stifling the Wings’ shooters, who missed the net three times and had three more blocked by the Sharks.
Just over a minute after the timeout, the Sharks took a 1-0 lead when Matt Irwin’s blast from the point found its way through a mass of humanity in front of Jimmy Howard at 7:06.
“I think there (were) guys having a long shift there so we had to take a timeout,” said Teemu Pulkkinen, who also scored Thursday. “But after that we were pushing really hard and I think after the timeout the game was all us.”
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 2
Shots: 26 | +/-: E
Pulkkinen scored his second career goal, and nearly added his third goal, but Antti Niemi recovered in time to reach back for the puck before it trickled over the goal line after hitting the post.
“I was feeling that I got chances before but I’ve been unlucky I think,” Pulkkinen said. “It was good to get one and get the confidence up. The second one was close … hit the post.”
In 10 games with the Wings this season, the Finnish sniper has 26 shots on goal, including a career-high six on Thursday.
“That’s what I try to do, play hard and win stick battles and shoot the puck,” Pulkkinen said.
WING NOTES: Datsyuk tying goal Thursday was his fifth in his past four games. He leads the club with 22 goals and 28 assists while reaching the 50-point plateau for the 10th time in his 13 NHL seasons. His 22 goals are his most since 2010-11 (23) and he’s 10 shy of his career high established in 2008-09. … Defenseman Danny DeKeyser collected a pair of assists for his third multi-point performance of the season. His previous multi-point games were against Buffalo on Dec. 23 and Jan. 18.