VANCOUVER – Jordin Tootoo returned to the lineup Friday night, and as suspected, added his kind of energy to the Red Wings’ thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers.
For the second time in a week, Tootoo got his nose dirty in a second-period fight with Oilers tough guy Mike Brown, who was acquired by Edmonton a month ago to do exactly the kind of things he was doing early in the game at Rexall Place.
Throwing his weight around early, Brown sent rookie Joakim Andersson into the boards near the blue line in the first period. From that point, Tootoo knew he had the green light to respond. But he had to wait for the right time.
“You kind of have to make sure that you tame the guy a little bit,” said Tootoo, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday in Calgary. “My job is to do that. He’s a great guy. He’s a hard-working guy and we both knew what our job is.”
Tootoo and Brown slugged it out at Joe Louis Arena on March 7 in a game won by the Red Wings, 3-0.
Both pugilists were exhausted following their punch-filled, 28-second bout on Friday. For his part, Tootoo received a bloody nose and five-minutes of recovery time to regroup from exerting so much energy in the fight.
“You realize that you use muscles that you don’t use that often,” he said. “Obviously, recovering is five minutes in the penalty box. You’ve got to make sure that you’re breathing right and staying focused.”
Friday was the seventh time this season that Tootoo earned a fighting major – the most he’s fought in the last four seasons – and it came during a time when the Oilers were skating circles around the Red Wings. But goalie Jimmy Howard made several spectacular saves that kept the game close and allowed Detroit’s forwards to get into the swing of things with a strong fore-check in the third.
“Yeah, the first two periods we weathered their storm,” Tootoo said. “They had a lot of chances and Howie played tremendous for us. We decided between the second and third period that it was time to get to work. Enough’s enough and I thought right from the drop of the puck (in the third) everyone was all on the same page.”
Tootoo’s fight didn’t directly affect the game’s outcome, but it definitely provided a spark to the Wings as they headed into the second intermission. And even though they were down two goals at the time, Tootoo said Vince Lombardi and Herb Brooks type speeches weren’t necessary.
“I think we all knew that these points are huge,” Tootoo said. “We’ve got to keep climbing the ladder and (this win) is a step forward.”
The Red Wings are right back at it tonight in Vancouver. The Wings are wrapping up a three-game road trip to western Canada, and their seventh back-to-back set of games this season when they face-off against the Canucks.
Starting on time will be critical if the Wings are to win in Vancouver for the first time since October 2009.
“First five minutes of the game we have to make sure that we’re doing all of the right things,” Tootoo said. “Just be prepared mentally, physically, it’s a grind. We get after it every night and we have to use 20 guys (tonight).”
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