The Detroit Red Wings were playing their third game in four days, so considering the schedule makers, the odds seemed the low. Fortunately, Detroit pushed through, securing a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
After Jonas Gustavsson departed with dizziness, Jimmy Howard was pressed into duty a day after getting shelled by the Washington Capitals and didn’t disappoint. The netminder turned aside 16 shots, including a penalty shot in the second period. He made several critical saves as the Red Wings fought off multiple penalty problems, including a 5 on 3. Defensively, Detroit did enough clearing pucks and clearing out the front of the net to have success.
Offensively, the Red Wings found plenty of pressure of their own both on power plays and even strength but could barely crack Eddie Lack, who was fantastic in net much of the night, making several amazing saves. Justin Abdelkader finally fired a puck past a screen into the net in the second period, and that would be just enough offense to carry Detroit the rest of the way. Late in the third, Abdelkader pushed an empty net goal home, allowing the Red Wings to put the game on ice and skate away with a huge two points.
Red Wings’ Wheel: Jimmy Howard. Considering Howard wasn’t mentally ready to play tonight, he deserves credit for finishing off Gustavsson’s shutout. Howard shut down the Canucks, denying David Booth of a penalty shot goal and making several solid saves along the way. It was a big performance for Howard a day after he was made to feel a bit embarrassed in Washington. Both Lack and Howard played a fantastic game.
Red Wings’ Heel: None. Detroit managed to come back after an ugly defensive game and turn in a shutout a day later. Considering rest was slim, that was a major accomplishment. There’s no need to single anyone out today as a heel given a very gutty effort.
Play Of The Game: Howard’s penalty shot save. Even though he was cold, Howard was up to the challenge at a very critical moment in the game. After Detroit had just scored, the lead could have been put to immediate jeopardy when David Booth drew a penalty shot. Instead, Howard stayed with Booth on the breakaway, snuffed out the shot and gave his team a major boost.
Beyond The Bench: Given Detroit had just played their second consecutive tough, high-flying game against Washington the day before, plenty could have figured they would mail in Monday’s game against Vancouver. Instead, the Red Wings found another gear offensively and defensively and did just enough to get two critical points. Games like this are usually the difference between making the playoffs or not come April.
What’s Next: The Red Wings head for a two game Florida trip, which begins with a date against the Panthers Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Detroit is only 1-1-2 against the Panthers this season.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax