The Detroit Red Wings played their best game in weeks, generating scoring chances and, for a change, playing with a lead.
Their performance against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at Rogers Arena led to a 1-0 victory, ending a six-game skid.
Alex Nedeljkovic made 43 saves to earn his second shutout as a Wing and the penalty kill went 3-for-3 as the Wings (25-29-7) won for the first time since March 1.
Pius Suter scored for the first time in 13 games. He was on a penalty kill with Vladislav Namestnikov and pounced on a loose puck, carrying it up ice before dishing to Namestnikov. Namestnikov sent the puck back to Suter as they approached Vancouver’s net, and Suter fired a shot that slipped in off the stick of Quinn Hughes and behind goalie Thatcher Demko, just after the penalty expired.
The game was the Wings’ next-to-last before Monday’s trade deadline. Defenseman Nick Leddy, a pending unrestricted free agent, was scratched as a precaution. The Wings wrap up their Western trip Saturday at Seattle, and then don’t play again until Tuesday.
The Wings have struggled with starts of late and, for the first time in six games, they reached the halfway point of the first period without giving up a goal. They weren’t just playing defense, either; Givani Smith generated a shot on net a minute into the game, and overall the Wings sustained solid offensive-zone pressure throughout the opening period. They outshot the Canucks, 18-12, and had one shot on a power play while Travis Hamonic was in the box for holding Filip Zadina.
Suter ends drought
Suter scored at 8:09 of the second period, just as the Wings had killed off a penalty to Zadina. It had been a long time coming for Suter, who hadn’t scored since Feb. 9 at Philadelphia and hadn’t had a point since Feb. 12, in a home game against the Flyers. Suter was signed as a free agent last summer to add depth down the middle. He went through a slump earlier in the season, too. While Suter is 25, this is only his second season in the NHL, and first with a full 82-game schedule. That’s a hard grind to adjust to; Suter got a taste of it last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, but that season was only 56 games and travel was limited because of the pandemic.
Thursday marked Troy Stecher’s first game in Vancouver since leaving the Canucks four years after being signed as a college free agent. The Canucks opted not to tender Stecher a qualifying offer in the summer of 2020, and he signed a two-year, $3.4 million deal with the Wings. Stecher, 27, has battled injuries, but even when healthy, he has been pushed from the lineup at times. There doesn’t seem to be a fit for him past this season (or maybe even Monday’s trade deadline), as the Wings have right-shot defensemen in Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek and Gustav Lindstrom.
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.