Red Wings inch closer to 1st-place Canucks
Undermanned squad moves to within 1 point of West leaders after shootout win
Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Jimmy Howard (Det) — 34 saves
Keith Ballard (Van) — 3 hits, 1 blocked shot
Roberto Luongo (Van) — 32 saves
Jiri Hudler scored the shootout winner Saturday as the Detroit Red Wings cooled the white-hot Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in a showdown of the NHL's top two teams.
Hudler, the first shooter, skated in on Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo and beat him with a low 15-foot slapshot to the stick side.
Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard completed a solid night by denying Canuck shooters Jeff Tambellini, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin.
"Neither team wanted to give an inch and it came down to the skills competition and luckily we were fortunate to get the extra point," Howard told Scott Oake of Hockey Night in Canada.
Osgood to see doctor
Detroit goalie Chris Osgood will leave the Red Wings to have a lingering groin injury examined by a specialist.
The 38-year-old Osgood, who missed all of November because of the injury, was scheduled to start Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks but instead served as the backup to Jimmy Howard.
Osgood is expected to return to Detroit on Sunday, then visit a doctor in Philadelphia later in the week.
The Red Wings are expected to call up Joey MacDonald from the American Hockey League as they continue a five-game road trip in Colorado on Monday.
Power-play goals by Daniel Sedin and Johan Franzen gave the clubs a 1-1 regulation tie in a game where Vancouver outshot Detroit 35-33.
While the Wings completed a three-game Western Canada sweep to halt Vancouver's win streak at eight, the Canucks have not lost in regulation time in more than a month.
Vancouver has points in a franchise-record 16 consecutive games and has chalked up a 13-0-3 record since dropping a 3-2 decision to St. Louis on Dec. 5.
The regulation tie in a game touted as a possible playoff preview of the conference final enabled Vancouver to cling to first place in the Western Conference.
The Wings won for the sixth time in eight games to improve to 27-10-5 and pull to within a point of Vancouver atop the Western Conference standings. They're also an impressive 12-1-2 against Northwest Division opponents.
"I don't know what it is," said Howard when asked why Detroit is so successful against Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota and Vancouver. "Sometimes against some teams we just play really well and Vancouver is one of them."
Detroit was playing without five regulars who are nursing injuries: Forwards Valtteri Filppula (groin), Dan Cleary (broken left ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (broken right hand), Mike Modano (right wrist surgery) and defenceman Brad Stuart (broken jaw).
Howard told Oake Saturday's win is a huge boost for the ailing Red Wings.
"The guys really battled in front of us tonight and we just tried to keep [the Canucks] to the outside and we found a way," the netminder said.
The Canucks, who have a game in hand, slipped to 27-8-6.
Niklas Kronwall had the best chance in overtime when he put the puck in the net but the goal was waved off because Todd Bertuzzi had crashed into Luongo.
Vancouver took a 1-0 lead into the third period against injury depleted Detroit which needed good netminding early from Howard to stay close.
"I was just able to make saves tonight, I never gave up … and I was going to do whatever it took to get the 'W' tonight," Howard said.
The resilient Wings tied the game 42 seconds after the second intermission when Franzen sped through the netural zone to take Henrik Zetterberg's flip pass.
He had a break-in on Luongo and fired over his glove.
The Canuck goalie had to be positionally solid as Detroit, outshot 18-9 by the midpoint of the game, began taking pucks hard to the net.
Luongo foiled Franzen late in the third when he got his left pad on the puck as the Detroit forward tried to control it on his doorstep.
The Canucks came close to getting the first goal four minutes into the scoreless first but Howard made a larcenous glove save off Daniel Sedin's backhand.
He was in alone on Howard on a set play with brother Henrik who fired a 180-foot pass off the end boards that the streaking Daniel recovered to negate an icing call.
Howard, playing a second game in as many nights because of veteran Chris Osgood's groin injury, made the save falling into his net. A video review confirmed the puck didn't cross the line.
Daniel Sedin got another chance on a second-period power play and buried the puck behind a diving Howard for his sixth goal in as many games.
Tomas Holmstrom was serving an interference penalty when Henrik Sedin, the NHL's assists leader, had his shot bounce off Kesler on the way to the net.
Daniel corralled the rebound near the side boards and scored his team-leading 25th goal from a sharp angle with Howard scrambling to cover an open net.
Keith Ballard rattled a shot off the post before the goal and Howard denied Alex Burrows after the score by getting his arm on a shot while lying on the ice.