Howard Blanks Blues, Red Wings Wrap 2011 with 3-0 Win

Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings closed out the 2011 calendar year with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, the team’s eighth win in the last ten editions of their annual New Year’s Eve game.

Howard stopped all 31 shots he faced in shutting out the Blues. It was his third shutout of the Red Wings’ twelve-game home winning streak.

All of the game’s scoring came in the second period.

At 7:28 of the middle frame, Johan Franzen opened the game’s scoring. Franzen darted around Barret Jackman to cut through the right faceoff circle, then skated past Roman Polak at the top of the crease and wristed a shot past St. Louis netminder Brian Elliot.

Just 1:17 later, Justin Abdelkader made it 2-0. Drew Miller deflected an attempted pass by the Blues to Abdelkader at the left side of the slot for a snap shot past Elliot.

Earlier in the game, Abdelkader had taken a hit to the head from Ian Cole and missed time in the “quiet room,” where he was observed for concussion-like symptoms.

Jiri Hudler wrapped up the game’s scoring with 53 seconds left in the second. With two St. Louis defenders covering him, Hudler took a pass at the inside edge of the left circle and put a shot on Elliot, then followed up his own rebound to knock it into the goal.

Elliot finished the night with 28 saves on 31 Detroit shots.

The Wings were held scoreless on four power play chances. The Blues did not score on their three tries with the extra attacker.

Detroit is next in action on Tuesday when they begin a four game road trip in Dallas.

The Red Wings played without forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm, both out with groin injuries and aiming for a return against Dallas… Defenseman Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch.

Postgame: Blues @ Red Wings – 12/31

Tonight was the best the Red Wings have played against St. Louis this season and it showed on the scoreboard.

It was the first time in four meetings that Detroit didn’t get bottled up along the boards by the Blues’ puck-pressure. Instead, the Wings had chances from the slot area and were able to get to the net.

Of course, the offense was helped by Jimmy Howard‘s stellar goaltending, yet again. In this twelve game home winning streak, he has three shutouts and a GAA well under 2.00.

As I mentioned on Twitter immediately after the game, it’s great to see Justin Abdelkader come back from the quiet room to score a goal and be named the game’s second star. The hit was ugly, though definitely not the worst we’ve seen (helped by the fact that there was no injury). You have to think there will be supplemental discipline but we’ll see.

Red Wings Rally for Win over Blues

The Detroit Red Wings scored three unanswered goals Tuesday night, rallying from down 2-0 for a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Nicklas Lidstrom started Detroit’s comeback with a second-period power play goal. With 1:03 left in the period, Lidstrom’s shot from the left point found its way through traffic and past St. Louis goalie Brian Elliot to get the Red Wings on the board.

Pavel Datsyuk tied things up with 8:41 left in the third period, tipping an Ian White shot past Elliot while driving to the net.

Just 56 seconds later, Niklas Kronwall beat Elliot with a shot through traffic from the blue line for Detroit’s first lead.

The Blues had opened the game’s scoring at 6:51 of the first, when Matt D’Agostini tipped a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the blue line past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard while St. Louis was on a power play.

A second power play goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead with 6:52 remaining in the second period. Jason Arnott‘s shot from the left point just slipped through Howard’s pads, but no one could see the puck free behind him. When play wasn’t blown dead, Alexander Steen jumped in and dug the puck out, knocking it into the net.

Each team had four power plays on the night. St. Louis scored twice with the extra skater while Detroit scored once.

Both of the goalies made 29 saves, with Elliot facing 32 shots and Howard facing 31.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday in the Detroit’s annual New Years’ Eve game. The Wings will next be in action the night before when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

Detroit was without forward Tomas Holmstrom, expected to miss a week with a groin injury. Joakim Andersson was called up from Grand Rapids to make his NHL debut in Holmstrom’s place.

Postgame: Blues @ Red Wings – 12/27

This game started out like the other two the Red Wings and Blues have played this season. St. Louis controlling the boards, Detroit unable to gain the zone, no offensive flow for the Wings.

The Red Wings ground it out as the game went on, though. They kept pushing into the Blues’ zone and started winning some battles, which led to getting some pucks on net. Nicklas Lidstrom got the Wings on the board with one such chance and from them on it was pretty much all Detroit.

Overall, it was a pretty entertaining game. As a Wings fan I’d like to have seen them do a lot of things better but some of that isn’t a sign of what Detroit wasn’t doing but a sign of what the Blues were doing. Brian Elliot had a very good game in the St. Louis net and the team is committed to controlling the puck in a way they haven’t been before.

On the Detroit side of things, Jimmy Howard kept his team in it. He made several key stops, including a Hasek-like flopping save off the side of his mask. Then Pavel Datsyuk put the team on his back.

The Red Wings needed that win and they might have needed to win it like that. It’s one thing to blow a team out, 8-2. It’s another to grind out a comeback win. Detroit hasn’t done the latter much this season and doing so tonight shows that they can.

I should mention Joakim Andersson, making his first-ever NHL appearance. I think I remember hearing his name twice. That means he didn’t screw anything up, which is good, but it also means he didn’t do much.

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