DETROIT – Marian Hossa’s talent made up for another lacklustre game from the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Hossa had the game-winner in a shootout after scoring twice in regulation, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues that ended a season-high five-game winless skid.
Detroit failed to keep three leads in regulation, but made up for it in the shootout when Jiri Hudler and Hossa scored and Chris Osgood turned away David Perron’s final attempt for the Blues.
“It doesn’t matter how ugly or pretty it was,” Hossa said. “We finally ended the losing streak and now we can build on something.”
Hossa signed a one-year deal worth US$7.45 million last summer, turning down a longer contract to stay in Pittsburgh, to chase a championship with the Red Wings.
He already has 26 goals this season, three fewer than he had last season for the runner-up Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers. The 29 goals were the fewest he scored since having the same total during the 1999-2000 season with Ottawa.
“Obviously, he’s a superstar, but we knew he was,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “What we didn’t know was how good of a person he is, letting him fit in real well in our dressing room, or how tough he was defensively, backchecking really hard every night.”
The Red Wings still don’t know, though, if they can keep Hossa and fellow forward Johan Franzen because both are eligible for free agency after the season.
Detroit’s chances improved last week when Henrik Zetterberg accepted a salary-cap friendly deal, signing a 12-year contract worth $73 million instead of asking for the $8-plus million he could’ve made annually on the open market.
It’s unclear if both Hossa and Franzen would also re-sign at a discount.
“It’s possible, but it would be difficult even though I think both would like to stay,” Holland said. “I’d like to get one of them signed before the playoffs, then get to the end of June when we know what the salary cap is.”
The Blues, who seem stuck in a rebuilding plan, have a Western Conference-low 44 points and trail the Central Division-leading Red Wings by 27 points.
But they gave the Red Wings all they could handle in their latest matchup.
Barret Jackman scored midway through the third period to extend the game after rookies T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund scored tying goals in the second for the Blues. All three scored on the power play.
St. Louis’ Chris Mason had to stop just 13 shots in regulation and overtime after replacing Manny Legace early in the second period.
“Guys played great and I’m the reason that we lost,” Legace said. “I was the worst guy in the NHL tonight.”
Legace gave up three goals on just eight shots, playing against his former team.
“I feel bad for Manny,” Blues coach Andy Murray said, “because there’s been a lot of nights, since I’ve been coaching the Blues, that he’s been the best guy in the NHL.
The Blues took advantage of being on a power play for five minutes midway through the third period after Detroit defenceman Andreas Lilja was called for a game misconduct and boarding after hitting David Backes from behind, slamming his face into the glass.
With 22 seconds left in the power play, Jackman scored on a shot from the top of the right circle that got past Osgood in part because he was shielded by St. Louis’ Keith Tkachuk in front of the net.
Detroit’s Kirk Maltby scored early in the second and Hossa had two goals later in the period, less than 5 minutes apart.
“He almost single-handedly won them the game tonight,” Mason said.
Notes: Zetterberg (back) missed his third straight game, but hopes to play Wednesday night at home against Phoenix. … The Blues drafted Berglund 25th overall in 2006 and Oshie 24th overall in 2005. … The teams combined to take just five shots in the first 20 minutes to tie an NHL low for a first period this season. The Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets had five shots in the first period on Dec. 6, 2008, according to STATS. … Detroit’s Kris Draper received a standing ovation during the first period when it was announced he was playing in his 1,000th NHL game.