Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has had an up-and-down second season. He’s experienced some long stretches without making an impact offensively or providing the kind of physical presence the team needs from him.
But Saturday in Nashville, Abdelkader played the kind of game the Wings expect to see more often. He scored two goals, including the game-tying tally in the third period, and threw his weight around, with a game-high five hits.
His all-around play enabled the Wings to battle back from a three-goal deficit to send the game to overtime, where Dan Cleary scored at 2:58, giving Detroit a 4-3 win.
“He played great. Probably the best game I’ve seen him play,” Cleary said of Abdelkader. “Physical and nasty and in everybody’s face. He’s a big kid and likes to lay the body and it’s nice to see him score.”
It was Abdelkader’s second career two-goal game. He also scored twice in a 9-1 win at Columbus on Nov. 11, 2009.
Abdelkader’s role has expanded this season to include penalty-killing. He has only seven goals in 70 games heading into Sunday’s contest against Minnesota at Joe Louis Arena, but the team believes he has more offensive potential.
RED WINGS 4, PREDATORS 3 (OT): The Wings believe this was their most satisfying win of the season, for many reasons. They showed great resiliency to battle back from a 3-0 deficit, getting a pair of goals from Justin Abdelkader and one from Jakub Kindl in regulation before Danny Cleary won it at 2:58 of overtime. They bounced back after an embarrassing 10-3 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday. And they snapped a four-game losing streak against Nashville, a potential first-round playoff opponent.
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