The Detroit Red Wings used special teams to throttle their opponent and earn a measure of confidence.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Pius Suter each scored twice Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena as the Wings beat up on the San Jose Sharks to the tune of a 6-2 victory.
Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri also scored and Gustav Lindstrom had two assists as the Wings (16-15-3) broke a two-game losing streak with their most productive outing since a 6-3 victory Oct. 24 at Chicago.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL: Wings must make ‘the opponent pay a hard price’ to beat upper echelon teams
It’s generally the power play that’s expected to provide goals and the penalty that’s expected to prevent them, but the Wings were shorthanded when they went up 3-0. Givani Smith had been tossed for a high hit near the end of the first period, leading to a major penalty that bridged into the second period. Suter scored at 2:04, and Bertuzzi added his second of the game on a rare penalty killing shift, at 2:41.
It was the first time the Wings scored a shorthanded goal since Darren Helm’s on Feb. 15, 2020, at Boston.
Suter scored again midway through the second period, five minutes after Jasper Weatherby put the Sharks on the board. Suter’s line with Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen had a high-energy shift cycling the puck in San Jose’s zone that ended with Rasmussen tapping the puck towards the slot for Suter to finish the play with his eighth goal.
Alexander Barabanov scored early in the third period but Larkin killed the Sharks’ bid for momentum when he turned a slick pass from Lucas Raymond into a 5-2 lead.
Alex Nedeljkovic made 24 sav
It was the last game before the Wings head to California for a week-long trip.
Filip Zadina, the No. 6 overall pick in 2018, was scratched from the lineup. It’s been a rough season for the forward, who has just four goals and six assists despite playing on the second line and the power play. He’s averaged around 15 minutes per game, two of that during man advantages.
The 22-year-old in his third season came into the NHL highly touted for his shot, but the 6-foot, 197 pound winger has had a hard time creating the space and time to be effective at the NHL level. He’s still young, and spending a game observing may imprint upon him the need to be more competitive.
Zadina’s absence meant opportunity for Smith to get back into the lineup after last playing Dec. 16 at Carolina. Smith’s assets are his 6-2, 213-pound size and his energy, but he’s had a hard time balancing playing with an edge without being called for a penalty.
He brought fans to their feet 2:30 into the game when he dropped the gloves against Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton 2:30 — and was tossed with 1:44 to play in the first period after a high hit on Middleton in the corner earned a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Bertuzzi gave the Wings a first-period lead for a second straight game, and in doing so, demonstrated the benefit of being willing to go to the net — and of throwing the puck on the net. Gustav Lindstrom rimmed the puck behind the net from the blue line, and Bertuzzi got the puck, threw a backhand on net — and his teammates erupted as the puck hit James Reimer and slid into the net.
Bertuzzi (6-1, 197) is about the same size as Zadina and neither is a fast skater, but Bertuzzi goes to the net, and that’s how he makes a difference.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. 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.