Lucas Raymond’s big night lifts Detroit Red Wings to 2-1 win over Minnesota Wild

Detroit Free Press

Lucas Raymond put on a show to break out of an early-season slump.

The second-year forward’s dominant performance Saturday at Little Caesars Arena against the Minnesota Wild yielded two goals for the Detroit Red Wings and a 2-1 victory that snapped a two-game losing skid.

“This was just a quality win considering who we have out of the lineup, coming off two games in which we were on the bad end of some scores,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “To come out and play a complete game against a really good team, it’s probably our best win to date.”

Raymond had a team-high seven shots in just under 20 minutes of play.

“He’s a key guy for us,” Lalonde said. “With his minutes, we need quality play out of him. I’m more excited about his overall game. You didn’t see the looping, you didn’t see the poaching for offense, you didn’t see the hoping. He played the game right. He put himself in good situations and it went in.”

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Raymond said he hadn’t been feeling pressure, but sounded relieved to have his own goal to celebrate.

“It was good that I finally got it,” he said. “Felt like we could have had more goals. Good to keep building on it. My only focus was on playing the right way and I know that good things will happen. We had a good game.”

For the first time since the season began, Lalonde didn’t rotate his goaltenders, with Ville Husso starting for a second straight time. The Wild took it to the Wings early, and Husso responded with a good performance after giving up an early goal.

“He was excellent,” Lalonde said. “We put him in a bad situation to give up an odd-man rush early on like that. This is a challenge. They’re picking corners. They’re hard on goalies, and Ville played extremely well.”

The Wings (4-2-2) took pride in holding the Wild to one goal.

“It feels better the way we played,” Dylan Larkin said. “We were shorthanded with a couple guys out. We grinded. Hus was good, our D was good, that PK in the second was gutsy. It was an emotional game. We brought the emotion. When we have that, we’ve played really well. We’re going into Buffalo on Monday, and we’ve got to show up with emotion.”

Patching the lineup

With Michael Rasmussen suspended through Monday’s game for high-sticking Boston’s David Krejci, and Oskar Sundqvist (upper body) also unavailable, the Wings called up Givani Smith. The 24-year-old spent all of last season with the Wings, logging seven points in 108 penalty minutes in 46 games. The Wings were high enough on Smith, a second-round pick in 2016, to protect him in the 2021 draft, but he has been bypassed on the depth chart by, for one, Elmer Söderblom. Smith went unclaimed on waivers before the season began. He skated on a line with Söderblom and Pius Suter. The top two lines had Larkin with Adam Erne and Raymond, and Andrew Copp with Dominik Kubalik and David Perron.

Smith had three shots on net in nearly 10 minutes of ice time.

“He gave us some forecheck, gave us good minutes,” Lalonde said. “Really happy with all four lines.”

Timely goal

With top-six wingers Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) and Jakub Vrana (players assistance program) unavailable, the Wings were hurting for production from the likes of Raymond, Copp and Filip Zadina. Raymond came through late in the first period. He had an earlier chance go wide, but with five minutes left, Erne played the puck to Raymond in the right circle, and he shot the puck bar down behind Filip Gustavsson to make it 1-1. Kirill Kaprizov had put the Wild up 1:28 into the game, taking advantage of sloppy defense to earn some early momentum.

Really timely goal

Raymond’s good night paid off with another goal. The Wings went on their second power play at 18:51 when Söderblom drew a penalty on Matt Dumba. Raymond was at the net to finish a play, stuffing the puck for his second of the game with 4.5 seconds left in the second period. That was Raymond’s seventh shot on net. Kubalik, who had had a five-game point streak snapped in Boston, assisted to pick up his 11th point in eight games. So did Larkin; it was his second helper of the night and 10th point in eight games.

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 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.

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