Detroit Red Wings Jiri Hudler (26), of the Czech Republic, scores his second goal of the first period against Vancouver Canucks goalie Curtis Sanford during an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Sancya
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings got the two points they wanted.
And they sure weren't style points. Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary each scored twice and Detroit broke a tie with a three-goal outburst early in the third period in a 6-5 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Nicklas Lidstrom added a goal and two assists, Derek Meech scored his first career goal for Detroit, and Chris Osgood made 20 saves.
"That was exciting, post-lockout hockey, wasn't it?" Detroit coach Mike Babcock asked. "Last shot wins."
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Taylor Pyatt, Kyle Wellwood, Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows added goals for Vancouver in the Canucks' fourth loss in a row. Shane O'Brien added two assists, and Curtis Sanford made 27 saves before being pulled in favour of Cory Schneider, who stopped all five shots he faced.
Meech, Lidstrom and Cleary scored 2:45 apart early in the third period.
Meech beat Sanford on a wrap around backhand shot 3:23 into the period for his first NHL goal. Meech is a natural defenceman playing forward because of injuries.
"Obviously, it's a huge adjustment from defence to forward," Meech said. "Just as long as I keep skating and try to create something and bang around out there, things should go OK."
Lidstrom added his third goal - from the bottom of the left circle - at 4:13, and Cleary capitalized on a rebound on a power play at 6:08 for his second goal of the game and fourth of the season.
"We can't be happy about the way we started the third period," Vancouver defenceman Sami Salo said.
Cleary's goal sent Sanford to the bench.
"It seems like they were coming at us in waves at the beginning of the third," Sanford said.
Henrik Sedin scored on a rebound for his fourth goal at 8:20 for the Canucks and Burrows added a goal, his seventh, with Schneider pulled for a sixth attacker with 1:25 remaining.
"Not much panic sets in among the players," Cleary said. "But when you're up 6-3, you've got to tighten up. We can let teams get back in and get a sniff of it."
Added Babcock: "It's a good thing they didn't get any more shots."
Cleary's first goal, 9:34 into the second period, tied it 3-3. He tipped in Lidstrom's shot from the left point for his third goal.
Vancouver scored twice in the first five minutes of the second period to take a 3-2 lead.
Wellwood's power-play goal at 1:22 tied it 2-2. He scored his 11th goal by beating Osgood from the bottom of the left circle. Raymond put in a carom off the back boards for his seventh goal at 4:43.
Pyatt opened the scoring just 1:35 into the game as Detroit surrendered a goal on its opponent's first shot for the third consecutive game. Pyatt got his fourth goal when he beat Osgood from the inside edge of the right circle.
Hudler tied it with his first goal, at 5:04. He beat Sanford from the bottom of the right circle. The goal was set up by Wellwood's giveaway along the boards in the Vancouver zone.
Hudler gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead with 9:55 remaining in the opening period with his 11th goal. Andreas Lilja's pass from one of the circles in the Detroit zone sprung Hudler for a breakaway and he beat Sanford high on the glove side.
Notes: It was the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. ... Detroit RW Tomas Holmstrom missed his eighth game because of back spasms. ... Red Wings' RW Darren McCarty missed his third game due to a sore groin. ... Former Red Wings star and recent Hall of Fame inductee Igor Larionov dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. ... Detroit assigned D Chris Chelios to their American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning loan. Chelios, at 46 the oldest player in the NHL, broke his right tibia during the exhibition season.