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Tighter defense earns a point for Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Jimmy Howard makes one of his 13 saves Saturday night, but the Canucks collected a second point in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Red Wings at Rogers Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)

VANCOUVER – Returning home from Western Canada with just a single point in the standings is disheartening, but the Red Wings like what they did defensively in Calgary and Vancouver.

Despite allowing a season-low 14 shots, the Wings suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Canucks – who have scored one goal in each of their last three games – at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.

“The guys did a tremendous job, kept them to the outside and blocked shots and really didn’t allow them to get to the net,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It was great to see.”

It was the third straight game that the Red Wings have held a team under 28 shots, which is Detroit’s season average allowed per game. The Red Wings limited the Flames to 17 shots on Wednesday, but still dropped a 3-2 decision at Scotiabank Saddledome.

While it’s certainly frustrating, all the Wings can do is continue to play solid defensively and hope the offense can have a breakout, Howard said.

“We’ve been doing a great job. It’s just that we’re doing the little things, and (keeping) guys to the outside,” Howard said. “I think the main thing is that we’re keeping the third guy high in the offensive zone so it’s been eliminating some of the odd-man rushes.

“I think we played a helluva game. I thought we deserved to win and sometimes this game can be cruel. But if we keep playing like this down the stretch here I think we’ve got ourselves a great chance.”

It was the seventh time that Detroit has gone to a shootout this season, but the third time in its last five contests. With games getting tighter as teams jockey for playoff position – or in the Wings’ case a postseason berth – shootouts are more common.

“Both teams played really good defense,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “I think the goalies played well, so it wasn't surprising it went to a shootout. We played a lot better than we did in Calgary, but once again, we can't really execute when we get our chances.”

The teams exchanged first-period goals by Edler and Wings forward Cory Emmerton before the defenses took over. Eleven different Wings recorded a blocked shot, including Justin Abdelkader who had two.

The Canucks claimed victory when center Max Lapierre scored the only goal in the shootout. Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider stopped all three Wings – Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Damien Brunner – in the shootout.

Now, the Wings return home where they will play three games in four nights, beginning Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are in 11th-place, just two-points behind Detroit. Three points separate seeds 8 through 11 with the Red Wings (48 points) trailing No. 8 seed Columbus by one-point, and with a game in hand over the Blue Jackets.

“We all know where we are in the standings and know the points we can get,” Zetterberg said. “The important thing, we played better. This is playoff hockey. It'll be tight games now, not a lot of open chances. The PK was good. The power play, of course you want to get at least one when you get a couple chances. Those are the things that decide games in games that are tight like this.”

MILLER DONE: Drew Miller suffered a broken right hand during the first period of Saturday’s game. Miller, who was one of five players to appear in every game this season, is done for the rest of the regular-season and playoffs after blocking a shot by Edler at 9:45 of the opening-period.

Miller produced four goals and four assists in 44 games.

THREE STARS: 3, Cory Schneider, VAN (29 saves, W); 2, Danny DeKeyser, DET (+1 rating, 2 shots); 1, Alex Burrows, VAN (3 shots, 2 takeaways).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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