BOSTON — Alex Nedeljkovic delivered another huge performance for the Detroit Red Wings.
Nedeljkovic made 41 saves Tuesday at TD Garden to lead the Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Bruins.
The Wings won for the third straight time with Nedeljkovic in net, improving to 11-9-3.
“It was a win that wasn’t the prettiest,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “We defended well, yes. Ned played great, but we didn’t get much offensively, we didn’t get many looks on the power play in the third period. But we did the job, we got the two points. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the win we needed.”
Marc Staal made his first goal this season a big one, sneaking to the net and scoring with 8:27 to play in the third period, five minutes after the Bruins had forced a tie.
PANDEMIC CONTINUES: Wings balancing COVID vigilance ‘while also living;’ Olympics are ‘worrisome’
The Wings struggled to get pucks through lanes, limited to 10 shots through two periods while the Bruins had 25. But one did get through, thanks to the skill of Filip Zadina, who potted one at 5:05 of the the second period. There was a brief delay during the period when referee Marc Joannette’s right leg was injured; he was clipped by Boston’s Jakub Zboril’s stick and fell awkwardly to the ice. Joannette was in visible pain and was helped off the ice. The game continued with one referee and two linesmen.
The Wings killed off a penalty to Michael Rasmussen to start the third period. Nedeljkovic came through with a big glove save on David Pastrnak at even strength as the Bruins pressed for an equalizer. The penalty killers came under greater demand when Gustav Lindstrom blatantly cross-checked David Pastrnak, and then Staal was called for hooking. The Wings were four seconds from getting through a 61-second 5-on-3 when Pastrnak got his vengeance and scored.
Blashill described the team as a good team defense effort, and liked the maturity the team showed after the Bruins tied it.
“A week ago, I don’t think we play as mature,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young players in important roles, and even as a team, sometimes veteran players have to remind themselves of what it takes to be a winning-type hockey team. It was good. I thought we took steps forward.”
Nedeljkovic mans net
Nedeljkovic started for the fourth straight game, deservedly so. Over the previous three games — which included games at Arizona and at home against St. Louis and Buffalo — Nedeljkovic went 2-0-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. He was especially strong in the third period of the Blues game. Nedeljkovic, who general manager Steve Yzerman heisted from the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason for essentially a 2021 third-rounder, has established himself as the starter. But with the Seattle Kraken in Detroit on Wednesday, the expectation is Thomas Greiss will start.
Zadina finds net
Zadina scored his fourth goal in 23 games this season. He was briefly credited for a goal in the Nov. 27 game against Buffalo, until replays showed it belonged to Carter Rowney — but Zadina was still a scoring threat because he was in front of the net. His goal Tuesday was more skill-derived, as Zadina drove to the net and stuffed a backhand past Linus Ullmark.
Suter nets assist
Pius Suter hopped over the bench, caught a gliding puck and found Zadina, earning an assist on the goal. It’s the third point in three games for Suter, another of Yzerman’s offseason additions. Suter had just two points (one goal, one assist) in 11 games when the Wings left Boston on Nov. 4; since then Suter has eight points in 12 games. That’s the production the Wings hoped they’d get from Suter, who had a standout rookie year last season (14 goals, 13 assists in 55 games) with Chicago. Suter was signed to bolster the second line, which hadn’t been a scoring threat in previous seasons.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.