DETROIT – And who thought the Detroit Red Wings would have trouble scoring without Pavel Datsyuk?
The Wings won for a second straight time without their star forward in the lineup, sidelined with a possible concussion, this time 6-1 over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit got goals from six different skaters – Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Drew Miller and Gustav Nyquist – and a 16-save performance from Jonas Gustavsson.
“When you don’t have a player like that in the lineup everyone needs to chip in and be a little sharper,” said Zetterberg, who also added an assist. “You need to do a lot of good things and tonight we got rewarded for it.”
Boston’s Jarome Iginla spoiled Gustavsson’s bid for his first shutout as a Wing and sixth of his career with a goal late in the third period. Tuukka Rask made just 22 saves.
“We still miss (Datsyuk) a lot,” said Nyquist, who also added an assist. “He’s a great player, but it was nice to see really all our lines going and creating a lot of opportunities and in the end getting six goals at home was nice especially for sure.”
The win moves Detroit, which beat Buffalo on Sunday, just three points behind the Bruins, who have played one less game, for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.
“We have a young group,” said Gustavsson, who will back up Jimmy Howard Friday at the New York Islanders and start Sunday in Ottawa. “When there are spots open there’s a competition. Everyone wants to be the guy to take that spot. That’s healthy for our group. Obviously we miss the guys that are out. But it’s always good to now we have other guys who can step up.”
The six goals were the most the Wings have scored in a game this season and the most Boston has given up.
“We work pretty hard most nights, today we were rewarded,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We had puck luck and got some energy and got going. I think that was the biggest thing. We’ve played lots of good games this year, we haven’t won lots of games. That’s the fact, because we never score in the ocean. The puck’s been going in. I thought we built off what we’ve been building and it was a positive for the guys.”
Detroit is now 6-1-0 in its last seven against Boston, 2-1-0 this season.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Wings exploded for three goals in a span of four minutes to open up a four-goal advantage just past the midway point of the game.
Tatar doubled the Wings’ advantage six minutes into the second.
After taking a feed from Brian Lashoff just over the Wings’ blue line, Tatar bobbed and weaved his way up ice, tripping on his own in the faceoff circle to the left of Rask before regaining his footing to speed around the net and shove a backend before the Bruins goalie could get to the post.
Then, just seconds after Nyquist fired a shot wide of an entire open net, the rookie forward got a feed to Zetterberg and he snapped a wrist shot high over Rask’s shoulder.
Kronwall added the final goal of the second period on the power play, taking a precise pass from Franzen through a maze of players and he did the rest being Rask cleanly blocker side.
“It was nice, our second periods haven’t been our best and tonight we found a way,” Zetterberg said. “Specialty teams were good, our PK and we scored a goal on the power play.”
The Wings opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period.
With Johan Franzen, who finished with three assists, just sprung from the box it led to an odd-man rush as Patrice Bergeron tried to get to the bench for a change but was unable to. Franzen dipped his shoulder to avoid the Bruins center and then had his stick broken from a slash as he passed the puck across the crease to Abdelkader, who buried his shot past Rask.
“We knew we had done a lot of good things, but we couldn’t do them for 60 minutes,” Zetterberg said. “I started to sound like a broken record there for a couple of weeks, so it was nice to see that the hard work was rewarded.
“We don’t get too high or too low in this locker room,” Zetterberg continued. “We know it’s one game. It’s nice to win, now we can celebrate Thanksgiving, fly to the Island and play another one there.”
Miller and Nyquist added goals in the third period to seal the victory.