By Michael Caples –
DETROIT – Last Tuesday, it took the Detroit Red Wings 59:56 worth of game time to beat Kari Lehtonen.
Scoring came a little easier for the Wings seven days later.
Valtteri Filppula scored his first two goals of the season – thanks in large part to Pavel Datsyuk – while Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner also scored for the Wings, as they posted four unanswered goals to cruise to a 4-1 win over Dallas tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
“Yeah, it felt good,” Filppula said when asked about his team scoring four straight. “I think we played a pretty good game today, stuck to our plan and were able to score enough goals to win, and that’s the important thing. We definitely need these wins.”
Filppula – named first start of the night – scored twice off highlight-reel goals from Datsyuk, his new linemate. Babcock shuffled the lines for Tuesday night’s contest, moving Filppula to left wing on the Datsyuk and Bertuzzi line.
“Fil’s a huge talent for us; we need him to be a high-end scorer for us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He hasn’t been practicing, he’s got a few bumps and bruises, but he found a way to play here today and really helped our team win.”
Just three seconds into the contest, newcomer Jordin Tootoo dropped the gloves with former Wolverines star Eric Nystrom, jumpstarting the Joe Louis Arena crowd. It was just one of two fights for Tootoo; he took on 6-foot- Brenden Dillon just 16:08 later in the first period.
“I think when you’re physically into the game, the guys on the bench get more involved,” Tootoo said. “That’s part of my DNA; bringing emotion to the game, having guys feed off of that.”
Babcock said that he wanted Tootoo to have a physical first shift, but that’s not necessarily what he had in mind.
“Well that’s sure not our intention, I just expected him to get in on the forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple of bouts, obviously,” Babcock said. “We just assumed he would forecheck; he’s a guy that gives us a different dimension than we’ve had, he’s physical when he’s out there, and guys know he’s out there.”
Jimmy Howard picked up his third win of the season after stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced in the contest.
The Red Wings bested Kari Lehtonen four times on 27 shots.
Notes: Todd Bertuzzi was caught with a dangerous high stick during the second period which resulted in a Red Wings power play; Babcock said after the game that Bertuzzi was OK, but that a visor would have saved the Wings’ forward from potential damage to his vision…The Red Wings scored on their lone five-on-three power-play opportunity, but weren’t able to score on any of their other chances…Filppula and Loui Eriksson led the game with six shots apiece…Niklas Kronwall led all players in ice time, playing for 26:21.