DETROIT – One of the best things about this shortened NHL season is that after a clunker one night you have a chance to redeem yourself a day later.
The Wings did just that Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Jimmy Howard made 22 saves and the Wings got goals from Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner to skate past Colorado, 3-2.
“That’s the best part about this season is we get a game right away to clear our minds and get refocused,” said Abdelkader, who has seven goals this year. “Sunday’s game was obviously not the way we wanted to play, a big disappointment but it was a better effort tonight.”
The Wings lost to Chicago on Sunday, 7-1.
“It was good to get right back at it,” said forward Johan Franzen, who had a pair of assists. “No one was happy with the way we played (Sunday). We came out stronger tonight. It got tight in the end, but we pulled it off.”
“It was great for us,” said Howard, who was pulled after allowing four goals to the Blackhawks on Sunday. “The key was keeping it simple early. We just got the puck deep and went to work and went to work. We weren’t turning it over like we were (Sunday afternoon). That was huge for us and we were able to build a lead.”
Jamie McGinn and Steve Duchene each scored third period goals for the Avalanche, while Semyon Varlamov made 10 saves before being pulled for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped all seven shots he faced.
“We took care of the puck, we were prepared to play, we got good goaltending, the whole thing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We weren’t very good last night. The guys responded. On a back-to-back it was a real big win for our team. We needed it. I thought we could have been more solid in the third period but still a good win for our team.”
Abdelkader opened the scoring with just over four minutes left in the first period, batting in a puck out of midair.
Franzen’s shot hit Varlamov high on his blocker, bounced straight up and Abdelkader bunted it home.
“I did my best to try and get my stick on the puck and with the Tigers opening the season I wanted to see how I would stack up bunting the puck into the net,” Abdelkader said.
Cleary made it 2-0 Wings with a power play goal.
Franzen had all the time in the world at the side the Colorado goal after taking a feed from Pavel Datsyuk before feathering a pass to Cleary, who jammed it home.
Just over three minutes later, Brunner scored his first goal to snap a 15-game goalless streak.
Gustav Nyquist did a great job keeping the puck in the zone, working it back in and then firing a pass to Brunner for the one timer that spelled the end to Varlamov’s night.
Brunner then gave Nyquist a much relived embrace.
“It was good for him, real relief for a goal scorer,” Babcock said. “Like most goal scorers he’s probably streaky. When you get it going you feel it, next thing you know you’re shooting the puck more. Gus made a real nice play for him.”
Brunner is tied for the team lead in goal scored with Datsyuk. They both have 11.
“He’s a goal scorer,” Franzen said. “It’s tough when you don’t score when you’re a goal scorer. He found a great spot and it was (Nyquist) that made a great pass to him and he doesn’t miss from there. He’s got a great shot, so good for him.”
The Wings let their foot off the gas in the third as Colorado made things close.
McGinn spoiled the Wings’ shutout bid, backhanding a puck past a seemingly defenseless Howard when his stick was knocked out of hands after a mad scramble ensued in his crease. The goal came on the power play six minutes into the third period.
Then Duchene made it real interesting, gloving down a puck in the Wings’ zone and firing a shot past Howard.
Howard preserved the win after robbing PA Parenteau with glove save with seven seconds left in regulation.
“It was trying to take everything away,” Howard said of the save. “He was at a bad angle and if that goes in, it’s completely on me.
“They’re a hardworking team,” Howard added. “They don’t quit. They’re young, they’re fast. They want to get into a track meet with you. For us to be successful against them, you got to play the grind game, keep them on the wall and not let them come flying through the neutral zone.”
Colorado lost 12 straight on road.