By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT – The Red Wings showed up on time Tuesday night, and it proved to be the difference in the end.
A strong first period fueled Detroit to a 4-3 decision over the struggling Arizona Coyotes at Little Caesars Arena. Dylan Larkin tallied a goal and an assist, while Luke Glendening, Anthony Mantha and Darren Helm also recorded goals. Jimmy Howard earned the win in goal for his fifth of the season.
“I thought it was the best we played maybe all season in terms of playing fast,” Blashill said. “We were fast in the neutral zone, our D went back for pucks, the forwards were available, we moved it up the ice, we attacked up the ice, we were fast in the O-zone, we attacked the slot on quick-strike attacks… The only downside was we weren’t up by more. I thought we had the opportunity to be up by more.”
It took Nyquist just 1:29 to open the scoring, as a turnaround wrister beat goaltender Scott Wedgewood on the blocker side. Wedgewood played his second game in as many nights for the Coyotes, having won the team’s first game of the season Monday in Philadelphia. Wedgewood is the fourth netminder Arizona has used this season due to an injury-plagued crease.
Photos by Michael Caples/MiHockey
Less than a minute later, Glendening took a drop pass from Frk near the right circle and wired a wrister in the far corner. The goal marked the Grand Rapids native’s third of the season.
Halfway through the opening frame, the Wings held a 9-1 shot advantage.
Just past the midway point of the second period, however, the Coyotes cut their deficit to one on a Jason Demers goal. Demers coralled the puck at the right point and fired a slapshot past Howard.
But the Red Wings’ budding line of Larkin, Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou came through to restore the two-goal lead shortly after.
Larkin stripped a Coyotes defender of the puck and found Athanasiou in the high slot. Athanasiou then dished the puck to Mantha at the back door for a tap-in goal, his fifth of the season.
And in the final minute of the frame, Larkin scored one of his own to make it a 4-1 game. Larkin tried to dish a backhand pass across to Mantha crashing the net, but Coyotes defender Luke Schenn tipped the puck past Wedgewood instead in an attempt to block the pass. The goal was just Larkin’s second of the season, but also his 12th point in 13 games.
Larkin’s line combined for four points on the night.
“I think it’s going to be a process with that group; I think there were shifts were they looked absolutely outstanding, and then I think they’d be the first to tell you there were shifts where they were too loose and gave up either outnumbered rushes against or potential outnumbered rushes against, so it’s just a matter of continuing to learn that they will not need to cheat one bit to produce offense,” Blashill said. “In fact, it usually works the other way and so I just think that’s a learning process for them. Part of me putting them together is that they have to hold each other accountable and make sure they’re doing it right.”
Larkin credited the bond between his linemates for their early chemistry.
“I thought we could’ve had more,” Larkin said. “We stayed patient, though, which I really liked. As the game went on, there was no panic, nothing that really got to us except a little sloppy play in the third. We were trying to cheat too much or we wanted too much offense.”
Arizona hung around, though, as Nick Cousins scored two minutes into the third period to cut the Wings’ lead back to two and make it a 4-2 game. Forward Mario Kempe drove the net with the puck, which created a rebound for Cousins to capitalize on.
USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program alum Clayton Keller scored with three minutes to play to keep Arizona in the contest. Keller threw a wrister on net from just inside the blue line. Howard made the initial stop, but sent the rebound skyward before it landed behind him in the net.
Darren Helm responded with an empty-net marker to seal the win, an important one as the Wings head back on the road.
The Wings head to Ottawa on Thursday to begin their November slate.
“Now we go on the road again, but then we’re home for a good part of November and December and that’s going to define our season,” Larkin said. “It’ll be nice, it was nice to get this groove at home. It felt like the fans were awesome tonight and good energy in the building.”