Can you describe your first goal of the season?
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 1 | Pts: 2
Shots: 26 | +/-: -5
“Abbie got the puck behind the net and I just tried to find up a spot in the slot there and get a shot off quick. So it’s nice to get the first one out of the way, finally. I’ve been waiting for a while on that one. It feels great to finally contribute offensively for the team and get that goal.”
Did you feel that you were due; you had three shots in the first?
“Yeah, definitely. I’ve been getting closer and close and I think a lot of the boys have been letting me know that I’m getting a little closer and closer each game so it’s nice to get that first one and kind of put that behind you and keep moving forward now.”
What were your impressions of the game overall?
“They’re fighting for the game just like we are, so we kind of got behind there in the third. I thought it was a big character period to comeback for our team and fight through adversity and put it into the shootout and get it. So that’s huge for us. I mean, we’ve kind of gave a way a couple games here in the past, so to get that one back and to win is big for our team.”
Despite giving up third-period leads, does it feel good to get points in eight straight games?
“As much as you don’t want to give up leads, and mistakes happen, we’re getting points and that’s very good. You look at the end of the year, you don’t want to miss (the) playoffs by one or two points. You look back now and you’re getting one or two points losses but you’re getting the one point that helps a lot down the line. So I thought tonight we had a good character win. Finding a way to win is big in this league, so I think we’re learning that and that’s big for our team.”
Is this team finding its way in three-on-three overtime now?
“Yeah, I think the guys who played in the AHL last year played it, so a couple guys who came up, Pulkkinen, they know it. But a lot of our guys never played it until this year, so I think our guys are starting to figure it out, finding little plays that work, times that you can chance and you can’t chance. It’s tough when you get a penalty, but you go out there and we have our system in place, so we count on that and we count on our goalie. We got through that so that was big for us.”
How much more challenging is the 3-on-4 in overtime?
“It’s so similar to a 5-on-3, you just got to play tight and play to our system. I think that’s the thing that you can’t get out of position and kind of read off the other two guys and they you’ve got to count on your goaltender to make big saves and sometimes you have to have the post make a save, like tonight, it hit the post and went out. So we’ll take that one.”
Is overtime less fun now that the team has played in so many?
“I don’t know. It’s fun for me, I have a front-row seat most of the time on three on three. But, no, it’s exciting. I think the fans are into it. There’s lots of chances. Obviously when we lose the game it’s not fun, but when we win it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
Wouldn’t it be more fun to win by three or four goals?
“Yeah, you know what, the way the NHL is now every team is good, every team is trying to create offense as much as they can, so the parity in the league is real close. You’ve seen some of those games, but I don’t think you’re gonna see as many three-, four- or five-goal blowouts as there were in the past.”
How special is it to reach 100 points with your home team?
“Yeah, I definitely take pride in being part of this organization. They’ve been great to me since the time I got here. So yeah, I didn’t even know that. A hundred points. That’s pretty cool. I’m proud to be a Red Wing. I don’t know if I can stay to another hundred points, but here’s to some more points then.”
Was it fun to have Abdelkader and Glendening assisting on your goal – a Michigan State Spartan and a Michigan Wolverine?
“Yeah, I think a couple of years ago Glennie scored his first goal, assisted by me and Abbie in Montreal. It’s a cool thing. It’s fun that we can joke about it now, definitely. We had the bragging rights in the football game. What else can I hold over his head? It’s something that we have fun with. It’s definitely one of those things that are a cool storyline – two Spartys and a Wolverine.”
What did you think of your team’s character in coming back late?
Right Wing - DET
Goals: 8 | Assists: 8 | Pts: 16
Shots: 59 | +/-: E
“It was nice for sure, especially going into the third with the lead there and then not to quit, but we battled back hard and it was nice to win in the shootout.”
How tough has it been to play in so many of these close games?
“Just thought about that last game, that went to overtime again. First shootout in the season today, that was nice to get that win. We’ve been in some pretty tight and long games here lately. We got to find a way to come out on top and today we did that.”
What have you learned about the intensity of the new three-on-three OT format?
“You have some sort of strategy, you’d like to change while you’re still fresh so you don’t get caught out there, that’s when you can get into real trouble. You can get stuck there for a couple minutes if you’re rolling around in your own zone all the time so quick changes and trying to keep the puck within your team all the time.”
Your team now has points in eight straight games, is that a consolation to the third-period collapses lately?
“Just to stay in it (the playoff race). We’re not really running away with it even if we’re grabbing points most of the nights. But it’s good. It’s like this every season, you go through it and look at the standings, it’s crazy how tight it is, every single game is important to get those two points and we did a good job getting those today.”
Did you like how the team responded physically tonight and stepped up for each other?
“It was great to see. We’re not stepping down for anyone and you saw that today. Abby had a good fight. Hank, too, stepped up, Smitty came in there, too, guys are stepping up for each other, it was great to see.”
What did you think of the job your team did on the penalty kill in OT?
“It’s not fun, you obviously don’t want to take a penalty like that. I stuck my leg out of position, being stuck against a forward one on one but can’t take a penalty still there. PKers did a tremendous job blocking shots and they’ve been doing that for us all year and that won us the game today.”
Your team had a season-high 46 shots on goal tonight, is it good to see guys not passing up shots?
“We talked about that. Obviously we’ve been struggling to put pucks on net, to score goals, really. Today we got four so that was good. I didn’t know we got that many shots but obviously that’s a step in the right direction and hopefully we can keep doing that.”
How do you build on something like that now?
“We did a good job today of shooting the puck. It’s pretty simple: Don’t pass up shots, don’t get too cute. Abby’s first goal, E’s just throwing the puck in and it hits his back and goes in. Those are the goals you’re going to get if you put the pucks on net.”
Wild game and you had the Gordie Howe hat trick plus one goal?
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 7 | Assists: 8 | Pts: 15
Shots: 42 | +/-: -2
"That was a wild game for sure. I thought we dominated and had some good chances there throughout the game. Obviously we gave a little too much defensively and a few mistakes but nice to see the puck go in for us. I thought our penalty kill did a great job in overtime, that's huge. It's never easy to defend a 4-on-3. Then obviously Petr made three saves and Richie got the goal. It's nice to win one in overtime, a few too many overtime games here of late but we'll take the points."
How good does it feel for you personally, a game like this?
"It feels good. At the same time, I feel like I've been getting opportunities and chances. The puck just hasn't been going in, that's how the game works sometimes. When those things happen, you just got to keep working hard and stick to the simple things, help the team out. It's not always going to be points. You've got contribute some way."
A lot of people were talking about Eichel and Larkin but it was you and Kane who really figured into this one?
"Eichel's a dynamic player, same as Larkin. They both can really skate and have high-end skill. Kane, obviously had two goals, he's a good player. He's a veteran, he's been in the league for a bit and can really skate. So he's dangerous that way. They're a good team, they've got some skill and work really hard. It was good for us to find a way to win."
You had a season-high 46 shots as a team, nice to see?
"I thought we did a lot of good things out there, got the pucks to the net. I thought we were going to have that one, have that fifth goal there before overtime. But they made some good saves, a few pucks bounced on our sticks, but overall, we did a lot of good things. Obviously, got to correct our mistakes but it's nice to correct those on a win."
You and Glendening assisted on Miller's goal, nice to show Spartans and Wolverines can work together?
"I guess so. We were joking around on the bench. Glennie was saying how all his points seem to be with me and Millsie. It was a good play, just working hard along the walls and Millsie got open, made a great shot."
You don't want to give up a lead, but what does it say about team that you came back and eventually won in the shootout?
"That was big. That was out first real power play of the game. Obviously they had some chances there. Specialty teams are huge, make a difference in the game, and to be able to find one there at the end was big for us and we almost had that fifth one before overtime. We had a lot of shots tonight, we did a lot of good things offensively, still can correct some things defensively but good overall win for us."
Was discipline a bit of a problem?
"Discipline, yeah, I mean stick penalties, got to stay away from those, too many men, I didn't agree with that call but the linesman seemed to think we had too many guys on the ice there. Those are always tough ones to give a team a power play on. If we just keep working hard and try to draw some penalties for us, get some more power plays."
On your first goal, did that shot come in a little too high for your liking?
"It came pretty high and hard. But those ones you'll take, that bounce off you and go in. Always good to see."
The Arizona Coyotes are up next, doesn't get any easier, does it?
"No, this league every team's good and you got to be ready to play each and every night. It doesn't matter who you're playing. Phoenix, obviously we don't see them as much as we used to, so we'll have to look through the scouting report and look through the lineup. I know they've got some young players that are having a good impact for those guys and Smith's usually really solid in net. You got to be ready each and every night. Hopefully we can build off this game here, the good things we did, and carry it over to Thursday."
|Justin Abdelkader collected his first career 'Gordie Howe hat trick' on Tuesday. The Red Wings' forward scored two goals, added an assist and fought with Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
“Before we start, is that blowing a lead or coming from behind to win?”
Why don’t you tell us, coach?
“A little bit of both, obviously. I thought we did a lot of really good stuff. In the second period we had chances to make it 4-1, maybe make it 4-2 once they scored and unfortunately we didn’t. In the end we scored four goals. That should be enough.
“Our penalty kill’s been great. I actually thought it was pretty good tonight. They had one seeing-eye wrister that got tipped and then we killed all the way until the last couple of seconds of the other penalty.
“The one thing I did think is that I thought our guys showed real good character coming back. I thought our power play hadn’t had one the whole game and then they get a chance on it and they scored on it so good for them.”
In your estimation, was that one of more physical games of the season?
“I’m not sure. I think sometimes games take a life of their own and certainly that one did. It got a little bit edgy. I think everyone’s a little bit competitive. I thought Justin Abdelkader answered the bell in a lot of ways. He can really provide a lot of physicality for us and he did that. I thought Helmer played good. Guys that can bring that physicality I thought did a good job of it.”
Kronwall has been more physical lately, that something you’ve talked about with him?
“It’s really on his own. I think Kronner’s always been good at making reads when the guys coming up the wall as to when he can go down. Obviously on the one hit the other night. Then this one here tonight he kind of read it and saw he had an opportunity. I think Kronner’s game over the last two weeks, he’s really improved his game, game in and game out. He’s really done a good job.”
Nice to see Richards get a goal, even though it was a shootout variety?
“I think scoring’s confidence so that’s a positive for sure. I think you hope that this continues. He’s had lots of chances and just hasn’t scored. I get worried about players when they don’t get chances. Players worry about it when they don’t get chances. But certainly scoring is confidence.”
What made Richards a choice in the shootout?
“Numbers. His career numbers. Between Nyquist, Pav and Richards, they’ve got the best numbers, statistically. I’ve been in lots of shootouts over my time and I just usually go to the numbers. Some guys haven’t had a chance so you have to have a gut feeling on some of those guys. Abbie hasn’t taken a shootout, Larkin hasn’t taken a shootout so you have to have a gut feeling on those guys but Nyquist, Pav and Richie’s numbers are very good.”
How big was penalty kill in OT?
“Unreal kill I thought by those guys. We had one the other night as well. The willingness to block shots is incredible. It takes a special person to basically put your whole body in front of it there including your face. I thought it was an unreal job by them. Again, they scored two power-play goals but I thought our penalty killers actually did a good job. When you’re down enough times, they’re going to score at some point. That’s just the reality of it. I thought our penalty kill did a good job.”
With three on three this season, were you almost surprised when game went to a shootout?
“Obviously this is our first one. We’ve been helping the statistics support the fact that they don’t go to shootouts. It played out to where it was four-on-four for a while. That probably doesn’t help. I think three-on-three has a way better chance of scoring. Obviously they had chances on their power play and I thought we had the two on one there. That’s the way it goes.”
How will this stretch of the last eight games, which have all been one-goal games, help your team’s development?
“I think you should grow from your experiences for sure. I can look back at different years I’ve coached and you have some moments that are hard sometimes and really hard to handle but I think our team’s have always grown. I think this team will grow from these experiences and be better. One thing we focus on lots is being better every day. We want to be a better team tomorrow than we were today. When you go through different trials and tribulations you end up being better if your learn from it.”
You had a conversation with officials prior to the start of the third period, can you let us in on what was said?
“We have the best officials in the world.”
What do you think of the team’s ability to get points in eight straight games now?
“I think there’s a couple of things at play there. One, we want points. You’ve got to grab as many points as you can when you can grab them. Two, we want our process to be great. It hasn’t been great every night but through this stretch of games it’s been really good. I thought our process tonight was pretty good in a lot of ways. We’ve just got to keep getting better as a hockey team and in the process and in the interim of that earn as many points as we can. We don’t want to give up leads but that’s the nature of hockey. Sometimes you’re going to be in those spots. I want to continue to be in a spot where we have the lead. I thought tonight obviously we got down in a game late where we haven’t been in that spot much and we showed a lot of character coming back I thought.”
Was discipline a little bit of a problem maybe the Smith thing in the second period?
“I would tell Brendan Smith get involved in that every day, all day. He’s going in to help Hank out and I was really glad he jumped in there. I’d tell him to do it again for sure and if we’ve got to kill a penalty for it, we’ll kill a penalty for it. Over the long haul of the year, we’ll stick up for each other every night.”
You had to like the fact that your team fired a season-high 46 shots, right?
“I think that’s one thing we’ve talked about internally as a staff and with Kenny (Holland) and the group, making sure we’re not passing up shots. I think part of that is being ready to shoot the puck fast. Everybody fronts shots and blocks shots so you’ve got to be ready to shoot the puck fast, so I was definitely happy with the shot total. Sometimes that doesn’t tell the whole story but we want to continue to make goalies make saves and we did a good job of that tonight.”
What did you think of the penalty kill in overtime?
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.30 | Sv%: .928
"The penalty killers, they did a great job. They blocked, I think two or three shots, and they hit the post there. Overall, I think we did a great job in that penalty kill 4-on-3."
Did Kane's first goal surprise you how hard he shot it?
"I was expecting that he was going to go high-glove, I just missed that. I think it went under the glove."
How good of a feeling is it to stop all three shots in the shootout?
"Great feeling. I was very happy. That would be four straight losses in overtime for me, so it's nice to have the win at home in the shootout."
Did you get a piece of Eichel's shootout attempt?
"I don't think I got a piece of it, I think it went wide."
DetroitRedWings.com editor Dana Wakiji contributed to this report.