It mattered how Detroit Red Wings beat the San Jose Sharks. Here’s why

Detroit Free Press

As they face three games on the road, the Detroit Red Wings are encouraged not just that they won their previous game at home, but how they won it.

A key moment happened 1:40 into the third period with the Wings leading 4-1. Alexaner Barabanov scored, bringing the San Jose Sharks within two goals with more than 18 minutes to play. But the Wings did not falter: Two minutes later, Dylan Larkin picked up a nifty pass from Lucas Raymond, sped into San Jose’s zone and fired the puck top shelf to make it a three-goal game again. The Wings went on to win, 6-2.

“It’s a huge goal at a huge moment,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “At 4-2, anything happens — they score, it’s 4-3 and now you’re sitting in a game trying to grind when you should have put the other team away.”

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Pius Suter, who contributed two goals to the effort, said, “getting a two-goal lead after that, it takes their energy out of their game.”

The Wings (16-15-3) didn’t practice Wednesday. They are scheduled to head to California to play the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, and the Sharks on Jan. 12. The Wings have won just four of their 15 road games.

Beyond the offensive boost Tuesday — after scoring just once in each of the first two games out of the Christmas break — the Wings played well defensively against the Sharks. They also did a good job defensively on New Year’s Eve against the Washington Capitals.

“Every night is a challenge,” Blashill said. “We did some things that will help you be good on the road. We played a fairly smothering style from a defensive standpoint in terms of not giving them space and I thought we laid pucks in behind and went and got them.

“You come out of the break, and you’re one goal and one goal. Confidence matters. When you’re able to get six, it helps guys, it helps guys feel good about themselves, helps the team feel good. I think confidence can breed more offense, so let’s hope that happens. Hopefully, we’re continuing to learn and grow as a hockey team and what it takes for us to be successful home and away, but especially on the road.”

Suter and Tyler Bertuzzi each had two goals, and Robby Fabbri also scored; 10 Wings came away with points.

“A lot of different guys scoring and playing well defensively, you can build from that,” Suter said. “Every win you take some confidence. The road trips haven’t been as we’d like so we need a performance like this.”

The slickest point belonged to Raymond. He got the puck along the boards, with Sharks forward Jonathan Dahlen closing in from behind. Raymond put the puck to his backhand then slipped it to his left, timing the pass perfectly as Larkin flew by. It was Raymond’s 19th assist and 29th point in 34 games, and padded his lead in the rookie scoring race by four points.

“You just have to remind yourself sometimes, he’s still 19,” Suter said. “It’s pretty crazy. He’s got so much skill. That pass was really nice.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.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 AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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