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Puck luck comes to Wings' Bertuzzi

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT -- In the Red Wings’ last two games, veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi has had two-goal nights, including the game-winners in overtime wins over Anaheim and Nashville.

“I’ve had some pretty good chances,” Bertuzzi said. “I think it’s a little bit of puck luck that it’s starting to go in. I’ve hit a lot of posts earlier in the year, and now I’m starting to find a little bit of my legs so hopefully I can step up and help contribute for this team.”

Bertuzzi is no stranger to the score sheet. Between 2000 and 2006, he scored 174 of his 263 career goals. But the last time the power forward posted back-to-back two-goal nights came in Feb. 2003. Since then, Bertuzzi has battled back problems and has bounced between Florida, Anaheim, Calgary, and now his second stint with the Wings.

The Sudbury, Ontario native said that hard work and confidence this season has led to his improved offensive contributions. He has eight goals and nine assists in 32 games this season. 

“I think its important for any hockey player, it’s tough to get the job done when you’re struggling with your confidence,” Bertuzzi said. “I think it’s up to you just go out there and work hard. The thing is though, the opportunities have been there, and they weren’t bouncing in. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come with the bounces right now.”

In the Wings’ 3-2 win over Anaheim on Friday, Bertuzzi scored in regulation by banking the puck off goalie Jonas Hiller’s skate from behind the goal line. Then, in overtime, he fired the puck over Hiller’s shoulder from beside the crease.

On Saturday, Bertuzzi scored on a spinning backhand shot that gave the Wings a 1-0 lead in the second period. In overtime – with a defenseman draped over his back – Bertuzzi beat goalie Pekka Rinne with another backhand shot.

Three of Bertuzzi’s four goals came on the backhand, which he said, “is harder than my wrist shot, so I try to go to it as often as I can.”

The Wings’ forward said scoring in the pressure situations has been great, but he would rather see his team win in regulation.

“When the game is on the line, it’s fun to be counted upon to go out and score, and right now it seems to be happening,” he said. “Hopefully it doesn’t take overtime to get wins. Hopefully we can start winning in regulation and start climbing up the ladder.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said Bertuzzi is finally being rewarded for his hard work.

“I thought Bert’s been playing real good for us all year,” Babcock said. “I think he’s been rewarded for his good play without the puck, and now he’s got some bounces, and with bounces you get confidence, and the puck goes in for us. He’s been a big part of back-to-back wins for us , and we need him to continue.”

Babcock said that he’s been impressed with Bertuzzi’s performance at both ends of the rink.

“When he arrived here this summer, he said he was tired of being known as a guy who couldn’t play without the puck. He wanted to fix that,” Babcock said. “Any time you’ve got a player who wants to do something like that, it’s pretty easy for the coach. We’ve talked about it, and he’s been really good in that area -- stopping on defense, not turning over pucks, looking after the thing.”

Wings forward Brad May, who played with Bertuzzi in Vancouver, said he’s excited to see his teammate score.

“It’s great, it’s something our team needs,” May said. “We need some scoring from everyone, but obviously it’s been fun to watch Toddy, he’s had two good games in a row here, and some big goals for us, so it’s exciting for him I’m sure.”

Bertuzzi said hopefully he and the rest of the Wings can help Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg carry the offensive load moving forward.

“The type of guys we have out here, they’re guys that can step up and produce and contribute,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s tough sledding when you’re relying on Pav and Z to do it every night and if you can get different guys stepping up and contributing it makes it a lot easier for the team and for wins.”

NEWBURY CALLED UP: The Red Wings called up veteran center Kris Newbury from Grand Rapids for Monday game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena.

Newbury, 27, was added to the roster to fill the void created when Darren Helm, who suffered a left wrist injury Saturday, wasn’t able to participate in Monday’s morning skate.

Newbury played parts of three NHL seasons with Toronto, compiling three goals and three assists between 2006-09.  In 27 games with the Griffins this season, Newbury is tied for the team-high 19 points. managing editor Bill Roose contributed to this report.

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