DETROIT – The offensively challenged and banged-up Detroit Red Wings proved to the defending Stanley Cup champions that they’re still tough to beat.
Darren Helm scored on Detroit’s sixth attempt in the shootout and then Jonas Gustavsson stopped Andrew Shaw’s shot, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
“We’re a little depleted, but we still have a great team and we showed that,” said Patrick Eaves, who had the second of his team’s three goals in the shootout and a game-tying goal in the first period. “It was nice to get rewarded for playing well.”
The Blackhawks faced Detroit for the first time since beating the Red Wings in overtime in Game 7 of their second-round series last year to complete a comeback from a 3-1 deficit. They are only scheduled to play one more time in the regular season because the Red Wings were moved to the Eastern Conference this season as part of the NHL’s realignment.
“Any time you play the Red Wings, it’s going to be an intense game given the rivalry and what’s happened in the past,” Chicago’s Patrick Kane said. “They’re playing through some injuries and haven’t had any luck as of late in that area, but it’s still a dangerous team. Sometimes you get these young guys that come up from the minors, they want to prove themselves and prove they belong.”
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored on his team’s first attempt in the shootout and Patrick Sharp scored on the second before Kane was stopped with a chance to win a game the Blackhawks led 2-0 in the first period.
“They played better as the game went along,” Toews said.
Gustavsson, playing for the injured Jimmy Howard, made 31 saves in his first game in nearly a month.
“It was a good test and I felt good,” said Gustavsson, who has been on injured reserve three times this season with a groin injury. “I didn’t feel any pain.”
Corey Crawford gave up four goals on the first 17 shots he faced and finished with 27 saves for the Blackhawks.
“We weren’t very good,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They worked hard. They were a hard-working team.”
Chicago took a 2-0 lead when Marian Hossa and Shaw scored 1:45 apart midway through the first period and it looked like the Red Wings were in trouble.
Tomas Tatar, though, scored less than a minute later and Eaves tied the game at 2 late in the opening period.
“To make it 2-1 was a key in the game,” Eaves said.
Sharp’s slap shot just seconds into a power play early in the second put the Blackhawks ahead again, but Kyle Quincey responded 1:17 later in the period with a game-tying goal.
Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist was set up perfectly in front of the net on a go-ahead goal off Henrik Zetterberg’s third assist of the night after Justin Abdelkader hustled for loose puck in a corner.
“Abby played hard and chased down the puck and set up Z,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
The Red Wings were without injured forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson and Joakim Andersson. They did get defenceman Jonathan Ericsson in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 23 when he broke ribs in a game against the New York Islanders.
“Getting Big E back made a huge difference for us matchup-wise,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
NOTES: Datsyuk missed his eighth straight game with a lower-body injury, but has begun to skate again and said he will “for sure” play for Russia has its captain next month at the Winter Olympics. … Crawford hadn’t given up four goals since Dec. 5, 2013, since a 4-3 loss to Minnesota and had allowed five goals in two games earlier in the season. … Chicago was 9-0-1 in its previous 10 regular season games in Detroit. … Kane hasn’t scored in 11 games, the longest streak without a goal since going 12 games without a goal during the 2008-09 season. … Detroit plays March 16 at Chicago.