Larkin leads Red Wings to win over Coyotes
DETROIT — Dylan Larkin shoulders much of the blame for last season, which saw the Detroit Red Wings’ 25-season run of playoff appearances end.
Following a sensational rookie campaign during which the Red Wings center scored a team-leading 23 goals and played in the NHL All-Star Game, Larkin endured a sophomore slump last season, dropping to 17 goals and finishing with a minus-28 rating.
“I really felt like last year it was partially on me, or a lot of it was on me,” Larkin said after he contributed a goal and an assist to Detroit’s 5-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
With his two-point night, Larkin (2-10-12) moved into the club’s scoring lead. Larkin assisted on linemate Anthony Mantha’s club-best fifth goal of the season.
Gustav Nyquist, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings (6-6-1), who won for the second straight game.
Jason Demers, Nick Cousins and Clayton Keller replied for the Coyotes (1-11-1), who were unable to win a second consecutive game.
Facing a Coyotes team that won a 4-3 overtime decision at Philadelphia the night before, the Red Wings set out to start fast, and they accomplished their mission.
Detroit wasted no time in establishing superiority. Nyquist picked off a clearing attempt by Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, skated into the high slot and drilled the puck through traffic past screened Arizona goalie Scott Wedgewood (35 saves) just 1:29 after the opening faceoff.
The Red Wings made it 2-0 at 2:37 when Glendening’s wrist shot from the right faceoff dot sailed over the blocker of the sprawling Wedgewood.
“I thought we could have had more,” Larkin said. “We stayed patient, though, which I really like. As the game went on, there was no panic, nothing that got to us, except a little sloppy play in the third.
“We were trying to cheat too much, or we wanted too much offense, I guess, and we got away from doing it the right way like we were in the first two periods, and that’s how we got our offense.”
The Coyotes played with more urgency in the second period and were rewarded for it at 11:36 when Keller dropped the puck to Demers at the point and the defenseman blasted a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard (30 saves).
The rally didn’t last long. Mantha chipped Andreas Athanasiou’s pass into the roof of the net behind Wedgewood to make it 3-1 at 13:03.
Before the period was over, Larkin’s cross-crease pass intended for Mantha deflected off the stick of Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn and past Wedgewood at 19:03. It was Larkin’s first goal since Detroit’s Oct. 5 season opener against the Minnesota Wild.
“This is a good lesson for us, because we learned that you can’t play like that on the second half of a back-to-back,” Coyotes center Derek Stepan said. “If you execute your system and you play smart hockey in the first period, the game will come to you in the second and third periods.
“We did an extremely poor job of that.”
Catching the Red Wings on a bad line change, the Coyotes scored at the two-minute mark of the third period when Cousins swatted a backhand shot past Howard from a goalmouth scramble.
The visitors drew within a goal of the lead when Keller’s shot bounced past Howard at 16:43 of the third.
“To be honest with you, I guess it went off the knob of my stick,” Howard said. “I don’t think it touched anyone on the way in.”
Helm tallied into the empty net at 18:38 to complete the scoring.
NOTES: Coyotes C Clayton Keller (9-6-15) and Vancouver Canucks RW Brock Boeser (2-7-9) are the only rookies leading their teams in scoring. ... The Coyotes own an NHL-worst minus-23 goal differential. ... The Coyotes are the NHL’s worst penalty-killing team at 66.7 percent (20-for-30). ... Red Wings D Danny DeKeyser (sprained ankle) missed his 10th consecutive game. ... D/RW Luke Witkowski and LW David Booth were healthy scratches for the Red Wings. ... The Coyotes’ healthy scratches were LW Anthony Duclair and D Joel Hanley. ... D Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) was out, while G Antti Raanta (lower body) and D Jakob Chychrun (lower body) are on injured reserve for Arizona. ... The next point for Coyotes C Max Domi will be his 100th in the NHL. ... The Red Wings completed a season sweep of the Coyotes, also winning 4-2 on Oct. 12 at Arizona.