'We're heading in the right direction': Andrew Copp's OT goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks
Detroit — If the Red Wings are going to make the playoffs a realistic possibility, they have to defeat teams lower than them in the standings.
They haven't always done that this season, but did Tuesday, defeating lowly San Jose 3-2 in overtime.
Andrew Copp scored his fifth goal batting in a loose puck at 25 seconds into overtime, giving the Wings (20-18-8) the victory.
"We've been playing pretty good; it's not perfect and we still have a long way to go, but you can see it starting to build and feel it building," Copp said. "We're heading in the right direction and hopefully we can make a push out of it."
Goaltender Ville Husso stopped 26 shots to earn the victory, as the Wings overcame a bothersome second period in which they kept the Sharks close.
"Disappointing in the second the way we managed the puck," coach Derek Lalonde said. "One turnover ended up in the back of the net on an extended shift, but we had three, four, five that period, just uncharacteristic of us of late and it complicated the game.
"For us, how we're built, any win is good for us. It feels like when we get a win, it's difficult, which is fine. I don't want to sound too negative because it was a good win, but we complicated that game."
Adam Erne and Michael Rasmussen scored second-period goals for the Wings, while Timo Meier and Logan Couture answered for the Sharks.
Rasmussen also had the assist on Copp's game-winner, driving to the net and drawing two Sharks to him, leaving Copp open to put in the winning goal.
"I rarely single out a guy for effort, especially with the way we're built, every time we win it's a complete team effort," Lalonde said. "But Ras tonight, he was nicked up, I could tell he wasn't 100%, but he forechecked, finished and the overtime goal he jumps a San Jose faceoff win and ends up getting three chances at it before the puck ends up on Copp's stick for an open netter.
"What an effort by him, and good for him."
The Wings travel to Montreal on Thursday and the New York Islanders on Friday, before embarking on a week-long All-Star break.
After a scoreless, relatively uneventful opening 20 minutes, the two team broke the game open in the middle period.
Erne opened the game's scoring with his sixth goal, early in the second period.
Dylan Larkin whipped a shot from the high slot that Erne got his stick on and deflected past goaltender James Reimer at 2:17. The assist was the 400th career point for Larkin.
But the Sharks answered with Meier's 28th goal.
Meier got the puck near the post after Erik Karlsson's shot, wrapped around the net, and banked the puck past Husso at 7:58.
Rasmussen regained the lead, 2-1, for the Wings. Rasmussen was leveled along the boards entering the zone, but got up, got into the slot, and in one motion wristed a pass from Jordan Oesterle for his eighth goal, at 16:29.
But the Sharks answered again, in the waning seconds of the second period. San Jose had a strong shift, peppering Husso and Couture finally converted with eight seconds left, snapping a rebound off Karlsson's shot for Couture's 17th goal.
"That goes under the category of tough (goal to allow)," Copp said.
But the Wings managed to get their game back together for the final 20 minutes, and overtime.
"The late goal, obviously it wasn't good enough," Rasmussen said. "(The coaching staff) kind of left it up to us and we did a good job in the third (period) and got the two points. We came together in the locker room and everyone pulled their weight."
In Lalonde's estimation he's only had one or two yelling or screaming moments in the locker room and he didn't want to waste one on San Jose's game-tying goal. But Lalonde also wanted to make it clear it wasn't a good 20 minutes of hockey, either.
"We just didn't manage the puck there," Lalonde said. "There comes a point where guys have to figure it out and their effort in the third was a very good sign of them trying to figure it out and willing a way to win."