Red Wings open new arena with 4-2 win over Wild
DETROIT — Entering the season, the Detroit Red Wings compiled a laundry list of items they felt needed to be rectified if the team was to make a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
One game into the season, they can check off a couple of those items: more impact from their power play and finding ways to grind out wins in the third period.
Detroit’s much-maligned power play scored twice in a 23-second span. Also, after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period, Henrik Zetterberg’s goal 7:07 into the final frame snapped a 2-2 tie that was the deciding tally as Detroit opened Little Caesars Arena on Thursday with a 4-2 triumph over the Minnesota Wild.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t happy his team allowed a third-period lead to slip from its grasp, but was pleased that the Red Wings dug deep and managed to still get the job done.
“I said it earlier today, today was a playoff game,” Blashill said. “That’s the way the NHL is today. Every game is a playoff game and you’ve got to find ways to win.
“Obviously, we’re up two and they come back to make it 2-2, so it’s a big win given that, too. I thought we showed great confidence in staying with it and that’s a lot to do with Hank.”
Zetterberg, the Detroit captain, gathered up a loose puck between the hash marks and unleashed a low shot before Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk had time to get set.
The Wings carried a 2-0 lead into the third period but squandered it quickly.
Joel Eriksson Ek converted Chris Stewart’s feed in the slot at the two-minute mark to make it 2-1, and just 48 seconds later Stewart skated out from behind the Detroit net and deposited the puck past sprawling Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau felt his club didn’t maintain its pace after getting back into the game.
“We were able to rebound and we were satisfied with the game tied,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t keep our foot on the gas, that’s for sure.”
In the second period, Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin scored power-play goals on successive shots 23 seconds apart as Detroit enjoyed a five-on-three advantage.
Martin Frk, who made the Red Wings on the basis of his powerful one-timer, unleashed a drive that Dubnyk couldn’t corral, and Mantha slammed the rebound into the net at 14:40. The assist was Frk’s first NHL point.
With Detroit still having the man advantage on its ensuing rush down the ice, Larkin redirected Mike Green’s shot out of midair and past Dubnyk at 15:03.
Last season, Detroit’s power play was 27th in the NHL at 15.1 percent but Thursday, the Wings were 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
“That’s what we talked about the whole time, we have to be better on the power play,” Frk said. “Put the pucks on the net and we did that tonight. We got two in like 30 seconds.”
Frk completed the scoring at 10:39 of the third period, driving a low shot through Dubnyk’s legs for his first NHL goal.
Howard made 37 saves in his 200th NHL victory. Dubnyk stopped 27 shots.
The Wild had two first-period goals disallowed when first Marcus Foligno and later Mikael Granlund were called for goaltender interference.
“They were the right calls,” Boudreau said.
The Red Wings’ penalty-killing unit was also in fine fettle, successfully defending a Wild two-man advantage for 1:37 early in the second period.
“Special teams, that was the difference,” Stewart said. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances and when they got the chances, they did.”
NOTES: Before Thursday, the Red Wings were winless when opening a new home arena. They lost 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues when Joe Louis Arena opened on Dec. 27, 1979, fell 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators when Olympia Stadium opened Nov. 22, 1927, and were beaten 2-0 by the Boston Bruins on Nov. 18, 1926, when they opened their first NHL season playing at Border Cities Arena in Windsor, Ontario. ... Red Wings D Mike Green had a career-high four assists, giving him 301 for his career. ... Detroit scratches were D Niklas Kronwall (groin) and RW Luke Witkowski. ... RW Martin Frk and LW David Booth played their first games as Red Wings ... LW Zach Parise (back) and D Gustav Olofsson were scratched by the Wild. ... LW Daniel Winnik, D Kyle Quincey, C Tyler Ennis and LW Marcus Foligno made their debuts for the Wild. ... Foligno’s dad, Mike, played for the Red Wings in their first game at Joe Louis Arena. ... Among those in attendance was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.