Soderblom, Husso pace Red Wings in 3-0 opening-night win

Detroit News

Detroit – For debuts, it couldn’t have gone any better for Elmer Soderblom.

Or Ville Husso. Or, for that matter, the new head coach Derek Lalonde.

Many of the Red Wings’ newcomers had memorable debuts Friday as the Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 for the Wings’ regular season and home opener.

“The important thing, it’s not just getting the first win, but getting it the right way,” said Lalonde, who won his NHL head coaching debut. “We played a complete game. You worry about the psyche of playing well and not getting rewarded with the outcome, but it all came through for us.”

More:BOX SCORE: Detroit 3, Montreal 0

Lalonde stressed all preseason he likely wouldn’t have a moment of being an NHL head coach soak in until, possibly, his first victory. Friday, it happened.

“It’s exciting, no doubt,” Lalonde said. “I’ve been asked throughout the entire (preseason) about that wow moment and I’ve said hopefully that wow moment is when we win, and it was exciting. But I’m just excited with how well we played and how complete a game we played.”

This was a 0-0 game until early in the third period, thanks mainly to Montreal goaltender Jake Allen, who made 37 saves including 25 alone in the first period.

But the Wings finally broke through thanks to Soderblom.

The 6-foot-8 Red Wings’ power forward, who somewhat surprisingly made the roster to begin the season after an excellent preseason, pounced on a loose puck in the slot and beat Allen.

“Unbelievable feeling and really fun to play,” said Soderblom of his first NHL game. “I wanted to get a good first shift to get things going and I felt like I did that. The crowd was unbelievable, the fans were amazing. I’m just looking forward to playing more games in front of them.”

The tall and powerful line of Soderblom, Oskar Sundqvist (6-foot-3) and Michael Rasmussen (6-foot-6) created havoc around the Canadiens’ end of the ice most of the evening.

Rasmussen added an empty net goal late in the third period, with Olli Maatta, another Wings’ newcomer, also scoring a late empty net goal.

The Soderblom, Rasmussen, Sundqvist line could be a unique weapon for the Wings with its size and strength. They set the tone early against Montreal, who couldn’t match up well at all (a problem many teams might have).

“That was the vision of that line together when it came to fruition,” Lalonde said. “It was exciting and I really thought they set themselves up and got the hard goal (Soderblom’s) from below the goal line, which was exciting.”

Soderblom again impressed controlling the puck and using his size and strength.

“He handled (the game) way better than I even expected,” Lalonde said. “I trust him in every situation. He’s a lot more responsible with the puck, he didn’t get lost in coverage at times either through the neutral zone or in our defensive zone which he did a little in our exhibitions. He got rewarded with the goal. I’m real happy.”

Husso, in his Red Wings debut, made 29 saves for the shutout. Husso made his best save in the third period, with the Wings clinging to the 1-0 lead, gloving a rebound by Josh Anderson along the ice on the Montreal power play.

Husso followed up by steering away a Brendan Gallagher partial breakaway.

“We played a great game for 60 minutes,” Husso said. “I felt we were on top of them all the time and it was like one of those games as a goalie you enjoy to play. You trust the team and guys are doing a great job blocking shots. It was a good game.”

Lalonde liked the composed way Husso looked in net.

“When he’s calm and quiet, if we’re not playing chaotic in front of him, he can look like that,” Lalonde said. “He had the big save on the power play (on Anderson), but for most part we made it comfortable for him and that’s going to be our goal going forward.”

The Wings killed all three Montreal power plays, an area that needed to be addressed heading into this season. But the Wings’ power play, though looking effective at times, also didn’t convert in three opportunities.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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