That’s more like it! Detroit Red Wings may have found secret to success, finally win on road

Detroit Free Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Detroit Red Wings made a break for home feeling better about themselves than about the weather.

A snowstorm pounded western New York and made for dicey travel conditions, but the Wings were warmed by proving to themselves for the first time in more than a month that they can win on the road.

“Finding ways to win on the road can for certain breed confidence,” coach Jeff Blashill said after Monday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres. “When you’re looking at your record and it’s really bad, and when you don’t win on the road it’s hard to have confidence. Finding a way to win is a big thing. We need points and to be able to get two on the road — and it is not easy going back and playing the same team again. So to find a way to do it was really good.”

The Wings (18-17-5) hadn’t won away from Little Caesars Arena since Nov. 30 at Boston. They had earned a point in games at Anaheim and San Jose this month, but to come away with two points after trailing by a pair of goals midway through the third period at KeyBank Center was especially satisfying.

“That was the best third period we played in a long time,” captain Dylan Larkin said after scoring in regulation and overtime. “We rolled lines and on offensive-zone faceoffs, we got our guys out there and we won draws and were able to swarm them. I liked the attitude when we got to 2-2, we pushed for the third one. We have to keep playing that way.”

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The Wings have won two in a row, both against the Sabres, after starting January 0-2-2. Alex Nedeljkovic has been a key part of this nascent winning streak; or as Larkin put it, “I think you’re seeing a common theme here with Ned showing up and bailing us out. There were some huge breakaway saves and it took us a little bit to get going.”

Another key factor has been adjusting the top lines to feature Vladislav Namestnikov with Larkin and Lucas Raymond, and playing Tyler Bertuzzi with Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri. Until Jakub Vrana’s expected return in February, those groupings look like they’ll give the Wings two offensive lines.

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“Bert and Fabs and Suits have been really good the two games,” Blashill said. “Bert and Fabs are really close, too, and they have good chemistry. I think it’s been a good move for us so far in two games. The Larkin line still remains a real dangerous line and now you have another dangerous line, and then you’ve got two other lines that I think can create more.”

The Wings originally were scheduled to play Tuesday at Philadelphia, but with that game postponed by the pandemic — the Wings expect to find out the dates of their five rescheduled games this week — they will instead have an opportunity to have a couple practices bookend a day off before playing again Friday at home against the Dallas Stars.

“That can help immensely and we have to take advantage of it and be really smart,” Larkin said. “Rest is a weapon this time of year and we have some big games coming up back-to-back, so with that, we’ll have a couple good practices and get ready for the tough matchups this weekend.”

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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