DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings had to fight to extend their franchise record home winning streak to 17 games. Literally.
But in the process of their 3-1 victory, they showed their Central Division rival, the St. Louis Blues (29-13-6), that you have to be a little choosy as to when you fight.
The Wings (33-15-1) were not upset they trailed 1-0 late in the first period, they were upset because of the way they were playing.
So much so that defenseman Brad Stuart decided to give his team a little spark with a good, solid hit on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo with about a minute left in the period.
Chris Stewart took exception and decided to fight Stuart moments later. Although both Stewart and Stuart got five-minute fighting majors, Stewart also got a minor for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
"We were flat a little bit, and I knew something like that would kind of help, so I just took an opportunity that presented itself," Stuart said. "You know, we stayed disciplined and they didnt and I think that was a big part of the turnaround."
Pavel Datsyuk nearly always makes a difference and he did while the Wings were still on the power play to start the second. He unleashed a beautiful backhand past Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak to tie the game at 1.
Johan Franzen untied the game at 8:52 of the second with a backhand rebound, which turned out to be the game-winner. Franzen leads the league with nine game-winning goals.
"I've always been lucky with getting those goals," Franzen said. "You never know that before you score because you never know how many goals the other team is going to score. It happens to be me a lot of times. It doesn't really matter, but it's fun to have them."
The Blues still had a chance, trailing by a goal late in the third, but that's when their lack of discipline really caught up to them.
Irritated by Darren Helm's insistence on hitting Pietrangelo behind the net, Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo put him in a headlock and continued to shove Helm in the back.
Instead of turning around and beating Colaiacovo with his own stick, Helm ignored him and continued to try to get position for a deflection.
Colaiacovo was called for roughing and the Wings were able to cash in when Niklas Kronwall scored his 11th goal of the season from the left point.
"Instead of them being able to pull the goalie early and really going after it I think that gave us some momentum back and we were able to hold onto the puck," Kronwall said. "Im just glad that we were able to take advantage of it and slow some things down a little bit."
The feistiness was not finished, though. With their goaltender pulled, the Blues continued to try to break through against Jimmy Howard. But Howard felt that Pietrangelo took a few too many liberties after Howard had stopped the puck.
"Right there I got it covered, going to the net hard and I thought it was a little bit of a cheap shot and let him know about it," Howard said. "I'm not going to be one of these guys out there where they can just run over or anything like that."
At that point, with the Wings leading with 1.5 seconds left, Howard took a couple whacks at any Blues player he could reach.
"It's great, it's called keeping your composure and you pick your spots," Howard said of Helm. "I picked mine."
Howard earned his league-leading 30th victory with 21 saves.
"Anytime a goalie gets 30 wins in a season, it's considered a good year," Howard said. "I'm very fortunate that I play on a great team and it's come a lot earlier."
Stewart acknowledged that the Blues were trying to send the Wings a message with their physical play.
"That was definitely more playoff hockey," Stewart said. "Physical from the start. Trying to set the tone against a rival and somebody who you'll probably face in the playoffs."
But as much as the Wings get criticized for not having an enforcer on the team, they at least know when to pick their spots, as Howard said.
"Yeah, you look at the room and you don't see a lot of guys that jump out at you as fighters, but we've got some big guys and we try to play a physical game," Stuart said. "We've got some guys who will fight if we have to, but it's a different game now. We don't need a guy that's out there just to play the policeman. That's not our game."
NBC Sports Network may have done an entire show on Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, "NHL 36," due to air this Wednesday, but they seem to be unable to spell his name correctly.
Showing the starting lineups, they spelled it "Lindstrom." Later, when Lidstrom assisted on Datsyuk's goal, they spelled it "Lindstom."
That's unacceptable when you consider Lidstrom has won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies, a Conn Smythe Trophy, has been a first-team All-Star 10 times and has been in the league for over two decades.
But NBC Sports Network also said "Adelkader" and Mursak were playing. Justin Abdelkader did play but Jan Mursak was a healthy scratch.