DETROIT – Justin Abdelkader helped the Detroit Red Wings earn a badly needed victory.
Abdelkader's power-play goal 24 seconds into overtime gave Detroit a 2-1 win against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings (39-21-11), third in the Atlantic Division, had lost six of their past eight with two division rivals, the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, each on a hot streak and closing in on them. The win moved Detroit five points clear of Boston, which lost 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"You get sick and tired of losing, especially when you're not used to it," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They're smart people, they know what the standings are and they want to be in the playoffs. That's what we expected from the get-go – to make the playoffs – and that's where we're at."
Erik Cole also scored for the Red Wings, who were without center Pavel Datsyuk for a third straight game because of a lower-body injury. Jimmy Howard made 23 saves for Detroit.
Abdelkader extended his career high when he pushed in a rebound for his 20th of the season and the overtime winner; his previous best was 10 goals, in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
"Battle in front, a couple of whacks at it and found a way to get it in," Abdelkader said.
The winning goal was disputed by the Blues, who said Abdelkader broke his stick before he scored the goal and play should have been stopped.
"He's playing with a broken stick. Should he still be playing? That said, we took a penalty late and paid for it," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game. "... We should at least be playing in the shootout now. The referees left the building, all of us left the building. We didn't have a chance to meet Elvis."
"We did a lot of good things with tired legs with back-to-back games. Maybe we took too many penalties, " St. Louis captain David Backes said.
The Blues lost 6-3 on Saturday to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
Allen made a glove save on Tomas Tatar's one-timer from the right circle with 56 seconds left in the third period to help reach overtime after the Blues' Patrik Berglund took a tripping penalty with 1:21 left.
Cole tied the game 24 seconds into the third period. Abdelkader's shot from the top of the right circle hit St. Louis defenseman Chris Butler in the face and bounced directly to Cole in front of the net. He poked it in for his 21st goal.
"If you shoot the puck toward the net, you get breaks because it's random. It's harder when it's random," Babcock said. "When you pass the puck all the time, the goalie knows where the puck's going. To me, that's what is so important about shooting the puck."
Allen confirmed Babcock's assertion.
"I thought [Butler] got hit in the face and maybe they would stop the play," the Blues goalie said. "It was a weird play. I got caught and was surprised a little bit."
The Red Wings took three consecutive penalties from late in the first period into the second, and they paid for it.
With Luke Glendening in the penalty box for high sticking, the Blues scored the first goal of the game on Steen's screened wrist shot from above the left circle 9:38 into the second period. It was Steen's 23rd goal; Backes provided the main screen in front of Howard.
Allen stopped Abdelkader from the slot and then made an outstanding pad save on Cole's rebound attempt almost three minutes into the middle period.
Howard made a save on Dmitrij Jaskin's shot from the bottom of the right circle without his goalie stick during a St. Louis power play early in the second.
Abdelkader hit the goal post twice in the first period. The first came a little more than 4:30 into the game at the beginning of a power play, and the second with about 3:30 remaining in the opening period.