VANCOUVER - The Red Wings did not look like a team that was coming off their bye, especially in the first period.
The Wings scored the first two goals of the game, then had to go to overtime to earn a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena Tuesday night.
It was a bittersweet ending to a day that saw the Wings say goodbye to two more players as Brendan Smith went to the New York Rangers and Steve Ott was traded during the game to the Montreal Canadiens.
1. Frans Nielsen : Nielsen scored the game's first goal at 4:36 of the first period, a wicked wrist shot from the right circle that beat Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. But Nielsen wasn't done. At 11:41 of the first, Nielsen scored a power-play goal from the low slot on a nice pass from Henrik Zetterberg. Nielsen also scored twice on Nov. 25 in New Jersey.
Quotable: "It was just what we hoped for. I think we came out with the right mindset. The set up was just keeping it simple and getting pucks deep. We got a lot of zone time and created some good chances off of doing that. And then Petr had some good saves for us early on." - Nielsen
2. Petr Mrazek : Mrazek struggled in the early part of the season as he worked to incorporate some of the technical changes that goaltending coach Jeff Salajko had introduced. In the last month, things have really come together for Mrazek, who has started 11 of the last 13 games. Mrazek stopped 25 of 27 shots the Canucks threw his way.
Quotable: "Obviously our power play had two tonight. In the end we probably won the game on specialty teams and goaltending. every game is like this. We've been in 50-something games like this when it's real close and it comes down to a play here and a play there. Certainly you're thankful we were able to make that extra play." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
3. Justin Abdelkader : Abdelkader has not been the scoring force he was the last two seasons when he had 23 and 19 goals, respectively. Much of that is due to missing 18 games with a knee injury. But it had been 22 games since Abdelkader had scored a goal, the last coming Nov. 26 against Montreal. But Abdelkader went to the net in overtime and redirected Zetterberg's pass past Miller at 2:31 for the game-winner and the team's second power-play goal of the game. Three of Abdelkader's five goals this season have come on the power play.
Quotable: "It's unfortunate that it's taken this long but I thought we did a good job of getting pucks to the net and creating chances, creating breaks obviously on the power play. You always want to focus on outworking and winning battles and I thought we did a good job of that, too. Our PK has been great of late, too, so that can always give you a boost." - Abdelkader