By Michael Caples –
DETROIT – The Wings scored early and often Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
In doing so, they were able to do something they hadn’t done in a few games – win.
Goals from Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar, Niklas Kronwall and Dan Cleary powered the Red Wings to a 4-0 win over division foe Nashville Saturday night; a victory that ended a five-game losing streak for Detroit.
“It put everything to rest there,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who picked up his first shutout of the season. “Things weren’t going our way, we weren’t really paying attention to detail, and tonight we got that performance from every single one of us.”
The Wings’ netminder turned aside 33 shots en route to the shutout, a statistic he insisted should go to the rest of his teammates.
“Well shutouts are sort of, they get credited to the goalie, but it’s more of a team aspect. You need everyone pitching in for myself to go out there and get one. I think it’s more of a team stat.”
Miller gave the Wings the early lead when he buried a rebound from a Niklas Kronwall shot at the 5:11 mark of the first period. It was the second goal of the season for the Lansing native.
“Got the puck in deep, we tried to establish our cycle, [Patrick Eaves] got the puck back up to Kronner, he got the shot to the net, and I was just trying to be strong out front and get the rebound,” Miller said of his goal. “We wanted to come out in the first period and play well, and I think we established that. We played 60 minutes tonight; our big key was to play a complete game.”
Tatar increased the Wings’ lead to two just three minutes into the middle frame. The Grand Rapids call-up continues to impress, as he now has three goals in ten games.
“He’s got to learn to take care of the puck, and he’s got to learn how to play without it, but he has skills in those areas,” coach Mike Babcock said. “As he gets better without it, and as he gets heavier on the puck, as far as taking care of it, he’ll become an important player for us.”
Kronwall added a goal at the 15:33 mark of the second, and Cleary found the back of the net on a screen play in front of goaltender Pekka Rinne for a power-play tally at the 11:48 mark of the third.
The Wings held the Predators scoreless on two power-play opportunities; the Detroit four-man units prevented Nashville from generating a single shot on goal with the man-advantage.
“I think we’ve been working hard all season on the PK,” Miller said. “We started off a little rough in the first couple games, but I know all the guys on it take a lot of pride in it, and we’ve been working hard at it, we’re trying to get that back on track and get our percentage back up.”
The Wings return to action tomorrow, hosting Ryan Kesler, David Booth and the Vancouver Canucks for a 5 p.m. contest at Joe Louis Arena. Babcock said tonight’s win was important for his team moving forward.
“Well it’s real big,” the Wings’ bench boss said. “When you haven’t won, it doesn’t matter what the score is, the lead’s never safe. It’s just a confidence thing. Confidence in pro sports, it comes and goes in a hurry, so this is a big win for us today.”