ST. LOUIS -- The Red Wings viewed the night as a chance to test themselves against an NHL contender.
Through half the game Thursday at the Scottrade Center, they were stymied both in speed and shot mentality by the St. Louis Blues, relying on Petr Mrazek to keep things competitive.
An opportunistic goal by Frans Nielsen provided a spark and Henrik Zetterberg secured a 2-1 victory in the eighth round of the shootout, growing the Wings’ winning streak to six.
Mrazek denied Jori Lehtera on a breakaway in overtime, while Dylan Larkin tested Jake Allen with a backhand. Mrazek made another save on an Alexander Steen tip attempt. Tomas Tatar’s doorstep chance earned the Wings a 4-on3 power play with 19.3 seconds left, but the Wings couldn’t generate a good scoring chance.
Steen beat Mrazek glove side in the opening round of shootout, while Allen stopped Nielsen on a backhand attempt. Vladimir Tarasenko missed. Gustav Nyquist sniped a forehand bar down. Mrazek made a pad save on Kevin Shattenkirk. Allen used his left skate to stop Larkin.
Mrazek blocked David Perron’s shot in round four. Andreas Athanasiou fanned on his attempt. In round five, Mrazek made a pad save on Nail Yakupov, and Tomas Tatar had his shot denied with a glove save. Mrazek followed up with an arm save on Robby Fabbri, and Riley Sheahan shot into Allen’s right pad.
In round seven, Mrazek made a pad save on Patrik Berglund. Darren Helm went way wide and had his shot stopped with a pad save. Dmitrij Jaskin didn’t score, leaving Henrik Zetterberg to wrap it up with a five-hole shot.
Nielsen’s goal highlighted a fine night from the penalty killers, who held the Blues at bay four times. Detroit’s power play was likewise thwarted. Mrazek was the Wings’ best player, making 29 saves through regulation.
Thomas Vanek, who has four goals among eight points, ended up being a late scratch because of a mid-body injury that renders him day-to-day. As fortune had it, Justin Abdelkader was ready to play again after missing the previous two games with a similar injury. Drew Miler was to have been scratched had Vanek been healthy.
Mrazek was busy from the get-go, making a half-dozen saves including robbing Nail Yakupov on a close-up chance off a rush in the opening 10 minutes. In contrast, Drew Miller’s shot nearly 12 minutes in was only the Wings’ third shot on Jake Allen. A penalty kill required that Mrazek stop Alexander Steen on a slap shot, and a second penalty coming with 1:09 to play saw Mrazek deny Paul Statsny in the last second of the period.
Statsny, right by the left goal post, sent the puck just wide as the power play expired in the opening minute of the second period. The Blues scored at 2:31 when Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot redirected in off Frans Nielsen’s left skate and past Mrazkek’s right pad. The Blues continued to own the puck, relentlessly cycling in Detroit’s zone with very few excursions by the Wings down the other end.
Not even a power play could get the Wings going. The first unit just passed the puck around, and the second unit couldn’t get set up.
It was the penalty killers who came through with a goal, at 13:54. Darren Helm left a drop pass for Nielsen, who tore up the right side and squeezed a shot just inside the goal post for his second goal of the season. It was only Detroit’s eight shot on net, but it produced momentum and their resurgence earned them a third power play, which spilled over by 1:54 into the third.
Larkin one-timed a puck during a fourth power play as the Wings dominated for stretches in the third period, showing the identity they’d had the previous three games.