Red Wings snap losing skid with 5-2 win over the Jets
The losing streak is finally over.
The Red Wings played well for the entire game and got some fortunate bounces in a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena.
The victory snapped a 12-game losing streak (0-10-2), in which the Wings had lost the past 10 in regulation after a 5-1 loss to the Jets in Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
“It was tough. For moments it felt like we didn’t have an answer,” said Dylan Larkin, who was a game-time decision to play because he did not feel well. “To come out and play like this was rewarding.”
Robby Fabbri scored two power-play goals, both off the skate of Winnipeg defenseman Neal Pionk, and had an assist.
“Those are some really Christmas gifts there,” Fabbri said. “Whatever it takes to win … It’s not always pretty. You have to go to the dirty areas.”
Filip Zadina also had a power-play goal, his first goal of the season, plus two assists, and defenseman Filip Hronek got an empty-net goal and added two assists. Darren Helm also scored. Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves and had an assist.
“When you’ve lost the number of games we’ve lost in a row, it just keeps grinding at you, so to have a win is a real good thing,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think our guys have done a real good job of coming out and having a good next-game mentality.”
Helm capitalized on the first good bounce of the game for Detroit when the puck slid off the stick of Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the neutral zone between the Winnipeg blue line and the center Red Line. The puck slid right onto Helm’s stick and he was away on a breakaway.
Beaulieu would not have caught Helm anyway, but when he lost the puck, one of the linesmen was right behind Beaulieu and when he turned to try and catch Helm, Beaulieu ran right into the linesman.
Helm raced in alone and beat Commerce Township native Connor Hellebuyck high on the glove side to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead, 7:49 into the game. It was the fifth goal of the season for Helm, who is Detroit’s only plus player this season at plus-4.
Fabbri’s first power-play goal, with 6:13 left in the first period, came when he cut to the net off right wing and tried to backhand a pass to Larkin, who was in the high slot. But the puck hit the skate of Pionk, who was in front of the net, and bounced past Hellebuyck and into the net.
And 3:35 into the second period on another Wings power play, Hellebuyck stopped Fabbri’s shot from the right circle. But the rebound, again, bounced off Pionk’s skate and back past Hellebuyck for a 3-0 Red Wings lead.
Fabbri has nine goals on the season and eight of them, along with five assists, have come in his 16 games with Detroit since being acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Jacob de la Rose on Nov. 6.
“I’d say one, he’s getting real good opportunity. That matters. He’s come here and had a chance to have real good opportunity,” Blashill said. “I think two, he’s capitalized on that opportunity. He’s a smart player, he’s good offensively. I think he’s done a good job, whether it’s playing with Filppula or with Larkin, I think he’s done a real good job. It’s been a good acquisition for us.”
Fabbri has played on the first line with Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi most of the time since Anthony Mantha went out with a knee injury on Nov. 23.
But Shelby Township native and U-M alum Kyle Connor scored twice in less than a six-minute span in the second period to make it 3-2. Connor tipped in Beaulieu’s shot at 7:16 of the middle period and ripped a one-time snap shot from the slot past Bernier with 7:03 remaining in the second.
Jets defenseman Anthony Bitetto took a roughing penalty against Adam Erne with 1:03 left in the second period. And Zadina capitalized with another power-play goal, this one with 24 seconds left on the period to give the Red Wings a 4-2 lead.
Zadina beat Hellebuyck on the short side with a wrist shot from the right circle. It was the first goal of the season for Zadina, the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft. Zadina has a goal and five assists in his last five games.
“What I like is his play away from the puck is better. Probably two, confidence and play away from the puck,” Blashill said. “His competitive level away from the puck is really, really good right now. He lost the puck in the first and fought like crazy to get it back. You can do way more things offensively if you get pucks back.”
Detroit held off Winnipeg in the third period and killed off the Jets’ only power play when Trevor Daley went off for highsticking with 5:42 left. The Jets pulled Hellebuyck for the extra attacker with 3:12 left and Hronek clinched the losing-streak breaking-win with a 1-iron shot from about 190 feet that never touched the ice, landing in the top part of the empty Winnipeg net and sticking in the twine there. It was Hronek’s seventh goal.
Now Detroit wants that level of play to continue when they face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
“It feels like we can do this in Montreal on Saturday night,” Larkin said.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson did not play in the third period. Blashill did not say what the injury was but added that Ericsson is day-to-day and probably will not play in Montreal.
… The Red Wings made a trade of American Hockey league defensemen with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Detroit dealt Oliwa Kaski to Carolina for Kyle Wood.