Facing a crucial four-game road trip, the Detroit Red Wings needed to get things off to a good start when they faced the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night. The Canucks may have struck first in the game, but goals from Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Tatar and one of the best defensive efforts of the season helped the Red Wings snap a four-game losing streak. Head coach Mike Babcock shuffled his lines quite a bit for the game, and it seemed as though some of the players are finally finding some chemistry in their new spots. Jimmy Howard got a confidence-boosting win by making 19 saves, but it was the defense in front of him that limited the Canucks to a season-low 20 shots.
Tatar found chemistry with Justin Abdelkader and Joakim Andersson on the third line, which proved to be a combination Babcock might want to keep working with. Stephen Weiss showed a lot of improvement on the second line, and the reunion of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the top line proved a tough matchup for the Canucks all night. With Jonathan Ericsson out of the lineup, there was added pressure on the remaining six Detroit defensemen. Not only did the group of blueliners come up big in their own zone, but they got involved on the offensive end as well. Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey went deep into the zone to help set up Alfredsson’s goal, and Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall assisted on Tatar’s game-winner. Kronwall played almost 29 minutes and DeKeyser nearly 27, and other than a minus-1 rating for Jakub Kindl it was about as good of a night as this team can hope for.
The Red Wings needed this win in a big way, and now that they have some positive momentum hopefully Babcock realizes he’s found a few combinations with potential to stick. Next up for Detroit are back-to-back games against the Calgary Flames (Friday) and Edmonton Oilers (Saturday).