Johan Franzen scored two goals late in the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit and Todd Bertuzzi roofed a backhanded shot in the third round of the shootout to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a hard-fought triumph over the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night at the Scottrade Center.
With the victory, Detroit leapfrogged over the Central Division rival Nashville Predators into fourth-place in the Western conference and grabbed charge of the race for the all-important home ice advantage with two games remaining for each. When playing at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings are an amazing 31-6-2.
The Wings also set an NHL record with their 12th straight campaign with at least 100 regular season points, raising their total to 101.
It was St. Louis' third consecutive loss (0-1-2) and leaves them two points short of the NHL-leading New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks (109 points each) in the battle for the Presidents' Trophy and a guarantee of home ice for the entire postseason. It was also the first time the Blue Notes have lost two consecutive times at home, as they sport a gaudy 30-5-5 mark at Scottrade.
Blues' goaltender Brian Elliott was the story for most of the contest, as he was going for his fourth consecutive shutout. Holding a 2-0 lead late in regulation, it appeared he was headed that route as Elliott blanked Detroit over the first 53:55 of regulation.
The Blues built their lead on the strength of two goals in the third stanza.
David Perron notched a shorthanded breakaway goal with Ryan Reaves serving a five-minute major for boarding Red Wings' defenseman Brad Stuart, stealing the puck at center ice on a bad exchange from Jakub Kindl to Valtteri Filppula and going forehand-backhand to lift the puck over a sprawling Jimmy Howard at the 7:18 mark.
It was Perron's fourth-straight game with a goal, becoming the second St. Louis skater to hit the 20-goal mark for the season in only 55 games after coming back from post-concussion syndrome.
Andy McDonald doubled the lead just 3:01 later, skating through the right faceoff circle, cutting into the slot, and firing a wrist shot past Howard and inside the far post to the goaltender's blocker side for his 10th of the year and a 2-0 Blues' lead.
That's when Pavel Datsyuk and Franzen went to work.
Datsyuk made a perfect pass from the left wing corner to Franzen in the slot, and Detroit's clutch goal scorer whipped a shot past Elliott to break the netminder's scoreless streak at a franchise record 241:33.
Just 2:15 later, the pair combined on another gorgeous sequence to tie the game. Datsyuk carried the puck around the net down low to Elliott's right, jammed on the brakes and spotted Franzen at the opposite side of the net. The Detroit wizard's lightning-quick pass weaved its way through several sets of sticks and right onto the tape of Franzen, who had gained separation from Blues' defender Alex Pietrangelo, and ripped a shot high over Elliott's desperation push across the crease. It was "The Mule's" second straight goal and 28th of the season, knotting the score at 2-2 with just 3:50 remaining in the third period.
Bertuzzi earner secondary assists on both markers.
Neither club could force a decision in the extra session, so the shootout was the remedy to decide a winner.
Howard thwarted T.J. Oshie, McDonald, and Perron in succession, and Elliott stopped Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler before Bertuzzi's backhander beat Elliott high under the bar to wrestle the second point away from the home team.
With talented hands for a big man, Bertuzzi is now 5-9 in shootouts this year, while St. Louis dropped to just 4-10 in the game-deciding skills competition this season.
Howard finished the game with 27 saves, while Elliott made 26 in the losing effort.