By Stefan Kubus –
DETROIT – Daniel Alfredsson had a career night Thursday in Detroit to propel the Red Wings to their first win in six games.
Led by Alfredsson’s three-point effort, including his 700th career assist, the Red Wings defeated the Calgary Flames in overtime by a 3-2 final. Joakim Andersson scored the other goal for Detroit and Pavel Datsyuk had three assists, while Jonas Gustavsson stopped 20 shots for his 50th career win.
“It’s huge for us,” Alfredsson said of the win. “We were hanging in games and playing some good hockey and then, all of a sudden, some lapses where we give the other team way too many chances. And we did today at times, too, but we grinded for throughout the whole 60 minutes today.”
Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock was most pleased with his team’s “compete level” and “structure.”
“As you saw, it’s not easy to win, especially when you haven’t done a whole lot of winning and you’re playing against yourself a little bit, as well, mentally,” Babcock said. “But we stuck with the process here. This game started the same way the last game started… Instead of folding, we just kept playing.”
Joe Louis Arena was easily the most electrified it has been in several games, something that the players appreciated after the fact.
“They’ve been sticking with us,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of the Hockeytown faitfhul. “Things haven’t always gone our way, but we feel like we have them behind us and they’re always sticking with us. They’re very loyal and I think the least we can do is applaud them for keep coming here and keep supporting us.”
The Wings didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard.
Alfredsson took a rebound off Ramo’s pad and shot from the high slot and in the net for a 1-0 lead, just 26 seconds into the game.
Detroit had scored early in Tuesday night’s game, too, and then proceeded to give up five straight goals, four of which came in the first period.
In this game, Mikael Backlund responded for Calgary at 5:11 with fluttering shot that Gustavsson couldn’t get a piece of as the puck banked off the boards behind the net out in front.
But Detroit made sure they weren’t going to live a repeat of their last game, despite Calgary having kept pace with them throughout the tilt.
In the second, Alfredsson took a shot from the point that was tipped in by Andersson for his 700th career assist and a 2-1 lead.
“It’s a nice milestone, but it’s not something that I hope I get,” Alfredsson said. “If you play long enough, you get to it some point I guess. It’s one of those things where, when it’s all said and done and you’ve hung up the skates, it’s something you’ll reflect on and probably be proud of.”
It looked like Alfredsson had his second goal and third point of the game shortly after, banging home a rebound on the side of the net. However, despite a goal being called on the ice, the officials correctly overturned the call as replay showed the puck never crossed the line.
In the latter half of the second stanza, Detroit took three penalties to serve up a lengthy, Calgary 5-on-3 advantage. Despite killing off two of the minors, Flames captain Mark Giordano wristed a laser over Gustavsson’s glove to make it 2-2 for Calgary on the remaining 5-on-4.
In the final 20 minutes, Calgary dictated most of the play, but Detroit came on in the last five minutes, generating quality scoring chances.
With just 41.3 seconds to play, Jonathan Ericsson laid out Flames forward Matt Stajan at center ice before Datsyuk split the ‘D and nearly scored to put the game away. Datsyuk drew a hooking minor on former Saginaw Spirit standout T.J. Brodie, which turned out to be crucial.
With 1:19 of power-play time left over in the overtime session, Alfredsson hammered home his ninth of the season, a one-timer on a feed from Datsyuk for his second goal and third point of the night.
Kronwall said, despite the team not playing its best hockey, it’s certainly a big win that it can use to build momentum off of.
“Where we’re at right now, it doesn’t matter; we have to find a way to win. I thought the effort was there. As long as the effort is there, we know that if we keep playing with the structure that we’re supposed to, we’re going to have some success. And tonight, we were able to grind one out.”