DETROIT -- After playing inspired hockey in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Wild in Minnesota, there was a feeling the Red Wings would build on their impressive victory and begin to make a push towards getting back into the playoff race.
But after two periods of looking lethargic and trailing the Ducks, 1-0, the Red Wings appeared to be following a familiar path, not playing poorly, but not playing well enough to win.
That was until veteran forward Thomas Vanek sent a message to his teammates between periods, telling the Wings it was time to take control of the game in the third.
Detroit came out in the third with renewed energy and skated past the Ducks for a 3-1 victory Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist and Darren Helm scored for the Wings. Rickard Rakell (power play) scored for the Ducks.
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard had 23 saves. Anaheim netminder John Gibson made 22 saves.
The Wings improved to 18-23-7. The Ducks fell to 19-19-9 and have lost 12 in a row.
Up next for the Wings is a three-game western Canada trip to Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton before the All-Star break.
The Ducks continue their five-game road trip Thursday in Minnesota against the Wild.
1. Thomas Vanek: Someday it may go down as 'The Speech' in Red Wings folklore, especially if it's the catalyst to turn Detroit's season around. After two ho-hum periods which found the Red Wings down 1-0 to the Ducks, Vanek stood up in the dressing room between the second and third periods and addressed his teammates. He calmly reminded them that the game was well within their grasp. There were two points up for grabs and it was time for Detroit to rise up from the doldrums and take them. Vanek didn't peel the paint off the walls, nor did he admonish his team in any way, he just felt the Wings had been playing better hockey recently and a solid third period would result in the Wings being crowned the victor. Vanek's words resonated with the Wings, who looked like a different team in the third, scoring three unanswered goals to seal the win. It is not a surprise Vanek would be the player to speak up. He is an affable man who is well-respected in the room and a natural leader - when he says something, the Wings listen and take it to heart. For the game, Vanek doled out an assist on Nyquist's game-winning goal, was plus-1 in 13:15 of ice time.
Quotable: "We knew we had to get going. After the second, Vanny spoke up and said it's time to go out and grab this win. It's there for us. Enough coming in here and thinking about a one-goal loss. Great leadership by him, we did just that and a huge two points for us. He's a great leader. He works, he's a great teammate and he's a pretty strong voice in this locker room. A thousand games and the captain of the Buffalo Sabres when he played there. A lot of experience and someone I look up to for sure." -- Dylan Larkin
Quotable II: "He's a great leader for us. Sometimes we need a little fire under us sometimes. He did a great job of kind of giving us a little boost there and backing it up coming out in the third. I think that was great. You need that kind of leadership. He's been around a long time so when guys like that, when they speak, everybody listens. So, I thought it was really good." -- Danny DeKeyser
Quotable III: "I think guys have tons of respect for Thomas because Thomas cares about winning so much. He's been around the league. For a guy that's been a real skilled player in the league, he's so hard on himself, he's hard on us, he wants us to win and if he says something I think it carries weight in the room because guys know he's a selfless-type person." -- Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable IV: "I always try to talk and keep it loose. Tonight wasn't that different. At the end of day there's too many games where we lose by one and we're like, 'We played pretty good.' Playing pretty good only gets you this far. We need results and we got it tonight. We got a good group of guys. Even throughout the losing you can tell guys are frustrated and angry but the next day the attitude is good. We would go back to work. Again, it's one of the big reasons I wanted to come back here, because it's such a good group. Hopefully, we can keep going here and get some more points on the road. I think you guys are making it a bigger deal. It wasn't that big of a deal in here. It was just making them realize we feel good about our game, but again, we don't want to walk away with 'we played decent again, but zero points.' It's all about results in this league." -- Vanek
2. Anthony Mantha/Gustav Nyquist: Mantha always strives to get at least five shots per game but had no shots through two periods against the Ducks. But he made his first shot a good one, scoring at 5:25 of the third period from the right circle after shifting to a line with Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou, both of whom assisted on the goal. It was Mantha's 11th goal of the season and first career goal against Anaheim. Mantha finished with 15 shifts for 13:03, had two shots, one hit and was plus-1. The Wings got a few deflections to go their way in the 5-2 victory Saturday in Minnesota and had another successful one against the Ducks. At 15:44 of the third, Nyquist deflected Danny DeKeyser's shot from the point past Gibson. Nyquist also has 11 goals. Only Larkin (18), Athanasiou (17) and Tyler Bertuzzi (13) have more. Nyquist finished with 18 shifts for 14:40,. had two shots, one giveaway, was 1-for-1 in face-offs and was plus-1.
Quotable: "I think Green had a good chance just before. The puck went out of the zone again and Glenny brought it in again to Vanny. He played it back to DK and I managed to get a stick on it. Those are nice to see when they go in." -- Nyquist
Quotable II: "We came out in the third and we had made some line changes in our heads and that was the one, I thought both Athanasiou and Mantha were going but we weren't able to get them enough ice time, I didn't think. So we wanted to make a change to get them a little more ice time and play with Larks. It was something that we felt was important. I think coming back off a penalty kill when you can do that, it's hard on the other team lots of times. Some of their best players are on the power play so you get a chance to take advantage of it. We're not using Larks quite as much killing as we were so that allows us to go right to a line like that. We just thought tonight, I don't know that it's a long-term, every single night thing but I think it's a group that when all three are going, they can be real dynamic and it was a big goal for us." -- Blashill
3. Danny DeKeyser: It seems that when a player returns from injury after a long layoff, he makes an immediate impact. That was the case for Helm, who scored in his return Jan. 2 against Calgary after missing 21 games with a shoulder injury. For DeKeyser, he had a similar impact as he had the primary assist on both Nyquist's and Helm's goals, with Nyquist's goal the game-winner. At 15:44 of the third period, DeKeyser fired the puck from the point and Nyquist deflected it past Gibson. At 17:27 of the third, DeKeyser got the puck to Helm, who whipped a shot that Gibson never saw, making it 3-1. DeKeyser, paired primarily with rookie Dennis Cholowski, had 24 shifts for 17:13, had two giveaways and was plus-3. DeKeyser is plus-7, tied with Luke Glendening for second on the team in plus-minus. Mike Green leads at plus-9.
Quotable: "It felt great to be back out there. It was a long six weeks being away from the rink a lot and not being around the team. I was just happy to be back out there and playing again. I was pretty happy with how the guys stuck with it tonight. We were okay in the first and second at times and then I thought in the third there we kind of brought it to another level and hit another gear there. So it was fun to be a part of." -- DeKeyser
Quotable II: "I thought DK did a real good job. I think he was in the 18-minute mark. We were going to ease him in a little bit. He's a top-couple defensemen for us every night he's played, so he helps our team." -- Blashill
Quotable III: "Danny was great tonight. He used his fresh legs. He looked great out there. He was flying. Anytime you get a solid defenseman like him back - he chipped in offensively and he was making great passes. We need that. We're happy to get him back. I'm happy for him. I know he was chomping at the bit to get back." -- Larkin