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Mrazek has another one of his bounce-back games to give Wings 2-1 lead in series

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have seen this out of Petr Mrazek before.

After a not-so-stellar performance one game, the rookie netminder bounces right back with a beyond-stellar outing his very next outing.

He did it again Tuesday night.

Mrazek stopped all 22 shots he faced to blank the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-0, and give the Wings the best-of-seven-series lead back at 2-1.

“He has lots of confidence,” Tomas Tatar said. “When the game didn’t go his way there was nothing he could do. He’s a good goalie. I feel like those goals they scored in Tampa weren’t his fault at all. We didn’t help him much. When we help Petr, Petr is helping us out too.”

Mrazek was pulled in Game 2 after two periods, allowing four goals on 18 shots.

This came after he stole Game 1 in Tampa, stopping 44 of the 46 shots he faced.

“What I tried to say so I can clear that up, if you think you can have a bounce-back game, that means that you had a bad game, right? You’re not playing in the NHL if you keep having bad games, that’s all I’m trying to say,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You’ve got to play good every night, that’s the National Hockey (League), that’s how you get to be a starting goalie in the National Hockey League. We expect him to play good every night.”

Mrazek is now 4-0-1 with a 1.38 goals-against average with a .962 save percentage in the five games after he was relieved in a start.

“It’s over right now,” Mrazek said. “Don’t worry about the one we won today. Of course it helps you when you win first game home and you’re up 2-1 in the series.”

Mrazek also shut out the Lightning in the last regular season meeting between the teams. Tampa Bay was the highest scoring team in the league.

“I think Petr played pretty good in Game 2,” Landon Ferraro said. “He made a lot of saves, but
we kind of left him out to dry. A couple of them he had no chance on.”

Mrazek, who led the Mrazek helped lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup in 2013.

“This is the Petr I’m used to watching,” Ferraro said. “We had our (Calder) Cup run a couple of years ago and that’s what he did for us every night. We’d give up a chance or two a game against good guys and he’d make sure he stands tall and made those saves for us. Then we’d take over and that’s all you need out of your goalie, making sure he can make up for a couple of mistakes throughout the night.”

Jimmy Howard had lost the starting job to Mrazek after back-to-back poor outings, but then regained it after the 23-year-old couldn’t provide any consistency between the pipes.

Then, Howard gave up three soft goals in an overtime loss to Montreal in the second to last regular season game.
Mrazek got the job back after making 33 saves to post a 2-0 shutout in the regular season finale over Carolina.

In Mrazek’s last six wins of the regular season he had a .982 save percentage (stopping 172 of 175 shots), a 0.50 goal against average and three shutouts.

It’s the first shutout by a Wings goalie since Howard blanked the Phoenix Coyotes, 3-0, on April 20, 2010.

He’s also just the 19th Wings goalie all-time to record a postseason shutout.

Helm, Marchenko out a week to 10 days

DETROIT >> Both are expected to miss a week to 10 days according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“It’s nothing serious, but they’ll both be out for a short period of time,” Holland said.

Helm was injured in the first period on Saturday.

Holland said his MRI Monday came back negative.

Marchenko finished the game after tallying his first NHL goal.

With the acquisition of veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky from the New Jersey Devils, the Wings are likely to assign Marchenko to the Grand Rapids Griffins once he is healthy.

With adding Zidlicky and Cole, Wings done making deals according to GM Ken Holland

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ wish list when free agency opened this past offseason was a right-handed shooting defenseman to man the point on the power play.

On Monday, just hours before the NHL trade deadline, the Wings obtained one.

Detroit made a trade with the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

On Sunday, the Wings made a deal for Erik Cole. In return, the Dallas Stars got a pair of prospects – Mattias Janmark (center) and Mattias Backman (defenseman), who are both playing in Sweden – and a second-round pick.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said the team will not make another move prior to the deadline at 3 p.m.

To get Zidlicky, who’s a power-play specialist and will immediately upgrade the top-ranked power play unit in the league, Detroit gave up a conditional third round draft pick in 2016.

If the Wings make the Eastern Conference finals this season New Jersey will also get a fifth-round pick in 2015.

If they make it to the Stanley Cup finals, the third-round pick becomes a second rounder and Detroit will get a fifth-round pick in return in 2016.

Zidlicky, 38, is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Wings have made a pitch to sign Zidlicky, who has four goals, 19 assists and a minus-seven rating in 63 games this season, each of the last two seasons, but he chose each time to re-sign with New Jersey.

Zidlicky had to waive his no-trade clause to come to Detroit.

He’s played 11 seasons in the NHL and has totaled 82 goals and 308 assists. He’s also appeared in 38 playoff games with a goal and 15 assists.

The Wings did inquire about Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf, but earlier this afternoon a source said that they’re not in on a deal to bring him to Detroit.

The main sticking point is his salary.

Phaneuf, who would be that impact defenseman the Wings would make a move to obtain, has six years remaining on a $49 million contract that he signed in the middle of last season.

Detroit wanted Toronto to pick up about $2 million annually on his deal to bring his salary-cap hit in at $5 million a season.

Phaneuf, 29, has three goals, 20 assists and has a minus-eight rating in 51 games this season with Toronto.

He’s a left-handed shot and would provide another physical element along the blue line.

Cole, 36, has a decent amount of playoff experience, scoring six goals and collecting eight assists in 46 games.

Cole, who has a 4.5 million cap hit, is a physical offensive forward and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

He had 18 goals and 15 assists in 57 games for Dallas this season.

For his career he has 262 goals and 264 assists in 881 games.

Wings aren’t working on a deal to obtain Phaneuf, but that could change as deadline approaches

DETROIT >> As Ken Holland said Sunday, “If there’s a player that can upgrade us, whether it’s up front or on defense we’ll do something.”

That someone could be Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

A source said that they’re not in on a deal to bring Phaneuf to Detroit.

But that could all change as the 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches when teams may decide at the last minute to meet demands on deals.

The main sticking point is his salary.

Phaneuf, who would be that impact defenseman the Wings would make a move to obtain, has six years remaining on a $49 million contract that he signed in the middle of last season.

If the Wings can’t get Toronto to eat $2 million annual on his deal, they could possibly part with a pair of Toronto natives – Brendan Smith and Stephen Weiss – and a first round pick.

Weiss however has a no-movement clause in his deal. He’s got three more years left on a deal with an average salary cap hit of $4.9 million.

Smith, who makes close $1.3 million this season, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Phaneuf, 29, has three goals, 20 assists and has a minus-eight rating in 51 games this season with Toronto.

He’s a left-handed shot and would provide another physical element along the blue line.

Another option, who could cost less, is New Jersey’s Marek Zidlicky. He’s a power-play specialist and more importantly a right-handed shot.

Zidlicky is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Wings GM Ken Holland: “I would love to make a deal to make us a little bit better.”

DETROIT >> For Wings general manager Ken Holland, his approach to this year’s NHL trade deadline is set in stone.

“If there’s a player that can upgrade us, whether it’s up front or on defense we’ll do something, but obviously we have a lot of people playing at a high level,” Holland said during a phone interview Sunday.

The deadline is Monday at 3 p.m.

“There’s a small list of players we have some interest in that we think would be a good fit for our team, but I understand there’s other teams in the buyers category and sometimes the price is too high,” Holland said. “But sometimes the price is the same, but the other team’s pick might be higher or they like the other team’s prospect over ours.”

The player they would bring in has to provide an important element and dimension to the roster. A top four defenseman that shoots right handed or a winger that can provide offense could fit that bill.

It appears the asking price for any of the players Detroit, which has close to $9 million in cap space, has on its list is a prospect and second-round pick in return.

“I would love to make a deal to make us a little bit better, to upgrade us a little bit, but I also feel with the way, not only with the way our players are playing here in Detroit, but the development of our young players in Grand Rapids I feel good about the depth,” Holland said. “I understand they’re young players and when we get into the Stanley Cup playoffs that you’re not sure how they’re going to react, but as you look at other teams out there, the league is younger. Because of the cap there are lots of good young players. We might have a lot of young players on our team, but do the other teams.”

Besieged by injuries last season, mainly at center, the Wings made a last minute deal for David Legwand. They gave up Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok and what turned into a second-round draft pick after they reached the playoffs for a 23rd straight season.

“Would we like to make an addition? Yes,” Holland said. “Do I feel we have to make an addition? No. But we’re going to explore the market place and if we can do something, we’d always like to do something.”

Heading into play Sunday, the Wings were a point behind Tampa Bay for second in the Atlantic Division with three games.

They have the best power play in the league and ninth best penalty kill.

“We think we’ve got a pretty good team,” Holland said. “We’ve played all of the best teams in the East and West and we seem to hang in there on a night to night basis, whether we win or we lose the games are really close.

“If we can make a move, I would love to, but if we have some conversations and some of the teams choose to go in a different direction and we don’t make a move I’m comfortable when three o’clock rolls around and we don’t make a move,” Holland continued. “Would I like to make a move? Yes, if it’s for a player we think, at a price that we can live with.”

Jimmy Howard has a target date for his return … Feb. 11 in Pittsburgh

DETROIT >> As far as recovering from an injury goes, everything is right on track for Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Howard took part in his first practice with the team Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, albeit splitting time with Tom McCollum, since injuring his groin in the first period Jan. 10 in Washington.

“Even though it was just spot duty it felt great to be back out there,” Howard said. “I was out there before on my own with (goalie coach) Jimmy (Bedard) and then came out and did all the goalie drills at the beginning and stayed out for about 30 minutes in practice. It was good, didn’t really feel anything, so we’re just going to continue to push it.”

The best news is he has a target date to return, a week from Wednesday on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I think we’re right on schedule of where we want to be,” Howard said. “We don’t want to push it too soon, but we also don’t want to be out longer than I have to be, so we’re doing everything I think at the right pace.

“Hopefully against Pittsburgh I’ll be back out there,” Howard continued. “That’s what we’re shooting for. At first we had Phoenix circled, but we thought that would probably be just rushing it a little too much and Pitt will allow me a couple more practices to push it.”

Howard will gradually increase the intensity at practices during the Wings’ trip to Colorado and Arizona.

“Basically I bag myself out there so the legs and lungs are ready to go,” Howard said.

Howard was injured after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.

He was carted off on a stretcher.

“I think I definitely escaped series injury,” Howard said. “When it happened I was really nervous, not being able to put any pressure on the leg or basically walk. I was on crutches for 24-48 hours. It responded well after a couple of days of being off of it.”

Howard is in the midst of having one of his best seasons in Detroit, posting a 16-7-7 record, with a 2.11 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

He was also the Wings’ lone All-Star choice, but could not participate at the event because of the injury.

Despite his absence Detroit has gone 7-1-0 with Petr Mrazek getting the bulk of the workload.

“It’s progressed every single day, so it’s good,” Howard said. “We haven’t had any setbacks, knock on wood. Hopefully we can just keep pushing it.”

Wings’ five-game win streak means nothing according to Babcock as team embarks to play 11 of next 14 on road

TAYLOR >> The Detroit Red Wings come out of the All-Star break winners of five games in a row.

That means nothing to coach Mike Babcock after the team returned to practice Monday at Taylor Sportsplex.

“That’s over with,” Babcock said after the 40-mintue practice. “To me, we’ve got a new game. It’s like starting all over. We’ve got a 35-game push here and let’s get started. These next five games for us are real important. If I’m not mistaken four of them are on the road, so let’s get off to a good start and do well.”

The Wings embark on a pretty tough schedule off a five-day break playing 11 of their next 14 on the road starting Tuesday night at Florida. That’s followed with a game at Tampa Bay Thursday before returning home to face the New York Islanders.

“It’s always a challenge to go on the road, but you’ve got to stick with what you do,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’ve had a lot of games on the road just after Christmas and I thought we did a fairly good job of sticking with it. We’ve got to get back to work here and do the right things.”

All three teams of the Wings’ next opponents have given them trouble in recent years.

Florida has won both meetings this season against Detroit, both played at Joe Louis Arena. The Panthers are also 5-2-0 since the start of last season against the Wings. Three of those wins were in a shootout.

Tampa Bay is 5-1-0 against Detroit since the start of last season, while the Islanders are 7-1-0 in their past eight against the Wings.

“You’ve got to win games,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you look at our division, the teams ahead of us are winning games and the teams behind us are winning games so you have to keep winning if you want to be in the hunt.”

The Wings have 63 points through 47 games and are just a point behind Tampa Bay for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel we’ve won some games, but I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey in these last few at all,” Babcock said. “I feel we’re a confident group that has a pretty good understanding of how we have to play and now we got to get back and do that again. I don’t get all hung up on where all the games are, we’ve got a game in Florida (Tuesday) and we’re going to get there and try to play well.”