The Detroit Red Wings showed for a second straight night that they are an improved team, building momentum off another fine outing by one of their goaltenders and contributions from newcomers.
They had to make do without Tyler Bertuzzi for most of Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, but the guy who took Bertuzzi’s spot on the top line, Jakub Vrana, was among the scorers in the 5-2 victory.
Dylan Larkin doubled the Wings’ lead with 0.8 seconds left in the second period. Newcomer Andrew Copp forced a turnover behind the goal line to set up Larkin’s first goal and third point of the season. David Perron scored his first goal late in the second period and fellow newcomer Dominik Kubalik added his first goal in the third period.
The Wings had to play with a short bench after losing Bertuzzi early in the second period when he was hit in the right hand by a puck. An update from the team is expected Monday.
There were two changes to the lineup that won the season opener Friday in Detroit: Alex Nedeljkovic got the start in goal — and came through with 37 saves — and Pius Suter replaced Joe Veleno at center on the fourth line. The line that had such a big part in the previous night’s 3-0 victory — Elmer Söderblom, Michael Rasmusssen and Oskar Sundqvist — had a big shift to start Saturday’s outing, with Söderblom directing a shot on net and delivering a hit on former Wings forward Tomas Tatar.
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The Devils, feeding off the emotion that comes with a home opener, played well early, and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead when Dougie Hamilton scored just short of the five-minute mark.
Nedeljkovic opened the second period with a huge stop on Jack Hughes, who eluded Wings defenders to maneuver to the net. Within a minute, it was 1-1. Ben Chiarot fired a shot through traffic from the top of the left circle that Vitek Vanecek never saw. That made it the second straight game a defenseman new to the Wings contributed a goal, with Olli Määttä netted an empty netter in the opener.
Vrana showed off his ability to only need one shot to make a difference, taking a feed from Lucas Raymond and angling the puck into the net from the dots in the left circle. The Devils needed just 10 seconds to respond, with Miles Wood making it 2-2 at 4:44 of the second period.
The Wings (2-0-0) next play Monday at home against the Los Angeles Kings.
Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.