There was concern that the Detroit Red Wings may not have had enough time to recharge after their emotional win against the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday with the St. Louis Blues coming into town.
The Blues, after all, had gone 4-0-1 in the first five meetings against the Red Wings this year, and are desperately trying to get into the playoffs.
But despite outshooting the Red Wings 32-24, Ty Conklin gave up a pair of weak goals and Valtteri Filppula scored the last two goals of the game as Detroit beat St. Louis for the first time in regulation this year 4-2.
Filppula also picked up an assist, giving him eight points in the past three games. In addition, Henrik Zetterberg scored a goal and an assist to give him seven points in the past three. With Todd Bertuzzi picking up the fourth goal and an assist, the line of Filppula, Zetterberg, and Bertuzzi have combined for 20 points over the past three games.
Jimmy Howard, starting his 20th straight game for the Red Wings, made 22 saves to pick up his 30th win of the season. He surrendered goals to Paul Kariya and Jay McClement.
The Red Wings are now 9-2-1 since the Olympic break. They have 87 points, and with the Calgary Flames idle tonight, their lead is four points for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Blues are now 10 points out of eighth with just nine games left.
The Blues got on the board first. Kariya took a pass from David Backes came streaming up the near side of the ice and split Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Moving towards the middle, he eluded a desperate last attempt by Zetterberg to disrupt him and put the puck though Howard's five-hole to earn his 17th goal of the season, and his sixth point against the Red Wings this season. Erik Johnson picked up the second assist on the goal.
But as the fans were still waiting to get into their seats to start the second period, the Red Wings tied it up. Zetterberg shook off Barret Jackman and pushed a weak backhander towards Conklin. The shot went off the inside of Conklin's right leg and crossed the goal line, but didn't even get to the back of the net. Zetterberg picked up his 17th of the season just 26 seconds into the period, with Todd Bertuzzi and Brian Rafalski picking up the assists.
Four minutes later, Zetterberg again fired the puck, but this time it was into a scrum in front of Conklin. The puck went wide, where it went off Bertuzzi's right ankle, bounced off a St. Louis skater, and dribbled into the net for Bertuzzi's 17th of the season. Filppula earned the second assist.
In the third, the Blues would come back. McClement's shot from 20 feet out went through the legs of Brad Stuart and just to the left of Howard's glove on a shot that clearly was a bad break for the Red Wings. For McClement, it was his 10th, with assists to David Perron and Mike Weaver.
But with 6:49 remaining, a Rafalski shot from past the blue line was easily stopped by Conklin, but he failed to control the rebound that bounced in front of him. Filppula came in quickly, skated to Conklin's left, and fired a backhander into an open net for his 10th of the season. Filppula would score an empty net goal with 11 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
The Red Wings face the Minnesota Wild on Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
Player of the game: Valterri Filppula. A pair of goals furthers his torrid pace.