It was beginning to look grim for the Red Wings.
Here they were Thursday in San Jose without a victory on a road trip that looked ripe for the taking, in terms of multiple victories, and suddenly, they were either trailing or tied at various times of the game.
The prospect of heading into Columbus Saturday without a victory looked entirely possible.
But, as they’ve shown at times this season, this roster does respond when challenged.
The Wings rallied twice Thursday, defeated San Jose, 7-4, and left California with a needed victory.
They head into Columbus with a chance to still make this a good, if not great, road trip with a victory.
“We found a way to get a win here,” said David Perron, who had a goal and two assists for the Wings. “It’s like Newsy (coach Derek Lalonde) talked about, and all of a sudden our record looks better, it’s good to get two points and we get a chance to (have) a good road trip.
“We almost buckled, but we didn’t, and we stayed strong.”
The Wings were flat the opening 20 minutes and found themselves trailing, 2-1. But it was a different Wings team that dominated the middle period and took a 3-2 lead into the final frame.
Only to see San Jose battle and tie the game, 4-4, and then the Wings stepped on the gas one last time with another three-goal outburst.
A back-and-forth game, indeed, in some ways. But one the Wings will gladly accept, as long as they won.
“Really proud of the group,” Lalonde told Bally Sports Detroit. “We got thoroughly out-competed in the first period, that led to some of our issues. Probably of the nine periods we’ve been on this trip, that (first period) was probably our worst period. But I give our guys a ton of credit for bouncing back. Our best period was that second period; we established a forecheck and we started winning battles.
“Then, again at 4-4, our game was fine. Unfortunately, a couple lost faceoffs led to goals but we stuck with it. It was a resilient group and a real good win.”
Seven different Wings scored, including three defensemen, as the Wings attempt to incorporate the blue line into the offense. For a game, at least, also, the inefficiency of the Wings offensively five-on-five can be quieted.
“It was a point of emphasis for us to get to the hard areas and we got to those hard areas,” Lalonde said. “When your five-on-five offense stalls a little bit, you have to simplify things, and we did that. We got to the net.
“Again, I was really excited about how we worked. We challenged the guys a little bit on their compete (level) and they came out with a lot of jump.”
Now, the Wings have an opportunity, with a victory, to earn five of a possible eight points on the trip, which would still be a positive heading into a five-game homestand at Little Caesars Arena.
“We wanted to finish positive on this road trip and it was a big step toward that goal,” said Moritz Seider, whose first goal of the season Thursday snapped the 4-4 tie. “We stayed with it and fought all the way back and got the W.”
The Red Wings assigned forward Austin Czarnik (Washington Township/Romeo) to the minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.
Czarnik, 29, appeared in four games with the Wings, with one goal, four shots and six hits in 11:50 average time on ice.
Forward Elmer Soderblom and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom are both out of the lineup, and their return is considered day-to-day.
Red Wings at Blue Jackets
▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nationwide Arena, Columbus
▶ TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
▶ Outlook: The Blue Jackets (6-9-1) have been decimated with injuries this season, currently without stars D Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe/Michigan, shoulder) and LW Patrik Laine (sprained ankle). Still, the Jackets impressively have won three of their last four games, including Thursday’s 6-4 win over Montreal. LW Johnny Gaudreau (6 goals, 14 points) and C Boone Jenner (7 goals) have paced the offense.