Darren Helm got the puck to drop twice before the clock ran out. His two goals gave the Red Wings who struggled early a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night. They finished 2014 with 49 points and 20 wins so far this season.
The Red Wings close out 2014 at home with a match against New Jersey where new faces have helped contribute to Detroit’s success. Xavier Ouelett got put into the lineup to replace Jakub Kindl. They needed to show strength after being manhandled by the Bruins Monday night where they were a mess. New Jersey had injuries rattling their lineup that helped the Wings end the year on the right mark.
The Red Wings got on the puck right away where Captain Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk showed their leadership skills, firing on Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. They made several attempts to get on the board in the period but were slightly off at every scoring chance. The Devils were lucky enough to get four shots on Jimmy Howard but his defense did all the outside work with blocked shots and countering on the turnovers. They outshot New Jersey 8-4 but needed more strength on the offense.
They didn’t have it at the start of the second as both teams were trying to find their groove in the second period but weren’t having luck with the shots they took. After 15 minutes of skating around with the puck, the Devils got onto the board first with a rifled shot from Eric Gelinas sending the puck over the shoulder of Howard for his fifth of the season. The Red Wings woke up from their slumber of not scoring as Helm blasted into the Devils zone and went around the net where he sent the puck over the leg of Schneider to tie the game. “My wingers battled hard I just got the puck beside the net Gus stood at the net and I just able to wrap it as hard as I could and luckily I got a good bounce out of it too,” said Helm to Fox Sports Detroit reporter Justin White.
The third period was still a 1-1 tie and the Red Wings had been used to these situations but if they wanted to start a new year right the time would come for them to get the go ahead. The Red Wings took seven shots on net before they began putting pass plays together. Detroit was patient for long periods of time until there was a right time to strike. It came at the hands of the captain where Zetterberg tipped in a shot from Niklas Kronwall.
After play resumed Detroit forward Brendan Smith delivered a hard check to Steve Bernier where his knees made impact on the boards sending him down and not getting up. A few minutes and help from his teammates, Bernier made it off the ice with the crowd clapping his departure and well wishes. The game was in Detroit’s hands to win and they added another assurance where Helm caught the turnover and skated fast to backhand the puck into the net adding his second of the night. His go ahead and game winning goals helped not only the Red Wings offense but Howard in net as he picked up his 15th win with just 12 saves on the night. “He gives us a chance to win every night,” Zetterberg said about Howard.
Though they outshot New Jersey 28-13, there was a lot their game needed before they faced Vancouver Saturday out west let alone the long stretch of being on the road. “It’s gonna be good for our group to get together and spend some time together,” said Zetterberg.