Oskar Sundqvist begins Detroit Red Wings career with goal in 6-3 win over Flyers

Detroit Free Press

There were new faces in the lineup and a familiar one to celebrate as the Detroit Red Wings returned home.

Newcomer Oskar Sundqvist contributed an empty-net goal Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Little Caesars Arena, restoring a measure of redemption for the Wings. Their 6-3 victory was just their second win in nine games.

The Wings (26-30-7) needed 15 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic in the third period, which saw the James van Riemsdyk cut Detroit’s lead to one goal. When the Flyers gambled and pulled their goalie, Sundqvist scored with three minutes to play and Tyler Bertuzzi with about a minute to play. Sundqvist picked up an assist on that goal.

It was the Wings’ first game since the trade deadline, when they acquired Sundqvist and defenseman Jake Walman, and the first home game since Marc Staal appeared in his 1,000th game. Staal was celebrated before puck-drop and the new guys didn’t take long to serve notice. Sundqvist made an impact on Joe Veleno’s goal, and the Wings used that momentum to make it 2-0 on a goal by Jakub Vrana.

Rookie Lucas Raymond celebrated his 20th goal with a slide on his behind, one-timing a pass from Dylan Larkin a minute into the second period. Joe Farabee and Oskar Lindblom whittled the lead to 3-2, but Vrana padded it when he one-timed a pass from Larkin.

WELCOME TO HOCKEYTOWN: Why the Wings wanted to give Oskar Sundqvist, Jake Walman extended opportunities

New looks

Sundqvist started on a line with Joe Veleno and Givani Smith, forming a line with three big bodies. Sundqvist, who shoots right, is a solid 200-foot player who brings physicality, and who’ll fill in at both wing and center.

Walman was partnered with Gustav Lindstrom, who made his first appearance since finishing the March 8 game against Arizona with a minus-5 rating. Walman has been on Wings GM Steve Yzerman’s radar for several seasons, and the hope is Walman can thrive in Detroit after being unable to gain a foothold in the Blues’ deep defense corps.

Finding offense

Veleno carried the puck around Philly’s net and threw the puck on net, taking advantage of Carter Hart dealing with having both Sundqvist and Smith in front of the net. The puck snuck into the net, giving the Wings a lead at 5:17 of the first period. That doubled four minutes later. Bertuzzi had the puck in the offensive zone, lost it, and to it back. He carried the puck towards the back of the net but passed it out front at the last second, where Vrana got his stick on the bouncy puck and floated it into the far top corner of the net.

That was Vrana’s fourth goal in seven games after missing the first 56 games recovering from shoulder surgery. His second-period goal marked his second two-goal game in that stretch.

Terrific ceremony

The Wings held a pre-game ceremony honoring Staal for playing in his 1,000th game March 12. A video tribute lasted several minutes and began with his being drafted by the New York Rangers at No. 12 in 2005, and included messages from his brothers Jordan and Eric, who also share the milestone, and Jared. Alternate captain Danny DeKeyser, on IR, brought flowers for Staal’s wife and kids, and captain Dylan Larkin handed Staal and each of his three children a silver stick to commemorate the milestone. General manager Steve Yzerman presented Staal with a Rolex Timepiece as a gift on behalf of Marian and Christopher Ilitch and the Wings’ hockey operations department. Lastly, Sam Gagner skated out with a gift for Staal from his teammates: A fishing trip for him and his three brothers at Miminiska Lodge in Canada.

STICKING AROUND: Why Yzerman should keep Marc Staal with Red Wings past 1,000-game milestone

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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