DETROIT >> If Wings coach Mike Babcock is looking for something out of the guys fighting to make the team, he saw it Thursday night.
Tomas Nosek and Andrej Nestrasil each scored as Detroit skated past the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena.
“Nesty’s a guy that struggled when he first started here and he’s really got himself in shape and looks like he’s going to be a player,” Babcock said. “Nosek is a player.
Tomas Tatar opened the scoring, while Justin Abdelkader collected two assists and goalie Jimmy Howard made 26 saves.
“Abby’s an important guy,” Babcock said. “They’re good players.”
Andrew Shaw and Garret Ross scored for Chicago. Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta stopped 22 of the 21 shots he faced in the first half of the game, while Michael Leighton made 17 saves in relief.
“I think it’s going in the right direction,” Nestrasil said. “There are so many great players. Everybody wants a job. It’s good we’re all buddies off the ice, but on the ice we want the other person’s job. I think it’s been going pretty good so far. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more game in the exhibition season.
“If you work for it and you come here and you’re ready you get an opportunity then you’ll have a way better chance of making the most of it,” Nestrasil added. “If someone gives up and doesn’t do anything over the summer and he’s given the same opportunity most likely he’s not going to make the most of it.”
Nosek was a free agent signee this summer by the Wings.
“I try to enjoy every game and I try to play my best,” Nosek said. “If I stay here it’s wonderful, it’s my dream. If not, I will try to play well in Grand Rapids and try to get back here.”
Babcock has been thoroughly impressed by Nosek thus far.
“He’s a man, he’s smart, he’s confident, he’s a good player, he’s got skill, he does good things, big body, I really like him a lot,” Babcock said.
Tatar opened the scoring late in the first period as his deflection somehow squeezed between the pads of Raanta.
Jonathan Ericsson backhanded the original shot just as he gained entry into the zone and banked the puck off Tatar.
Tatar leads the team with two goals this preseason.
Nosek doubled Detroit’s advantage just 29 seconds into the third period slipping a shot between the pads of Leighton, who had lost his stick behind the net moments earlier.
“I try to talk to them a lot,” Abdelkader said. “They’ve got questions. Make sure they know where they’re going on the ice. I think the big thing for them is you’re going to make mistakes as a young guy. Systems are new. Nesty has been here for a while but Nosek, this is new for him and I think the big thing is just go out and play. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Be good with the puck and I thought both those guy splayed well in Chicago and followed it up with a good game.”
Just six minutes later, Shaw potted the Blackhawks’ lone goal beating Joakim Andersson in front of Howard to jam the loose puck over the goal line.
Later, Nestrasil found a loose puck in front of Leighton and backhanded a shot into the goal.
“I was drafted five years ago and I didn’t get to play in an exhibition game until this year,” Nestrasil said. “This is a breakthrough year for me so every time I’m on the ice I just want to make the most of it. I’m going to celebrate every single goal, even if it’s an exhibition game or even if it was a scrimmage I’m going to celebrate.”
With 49 seconds left and the extra attacker, Ross pulled the Blackhawks to within a goal.
The Wings are now 2-0-1 this preseason and host the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 7 p.m.