The Detroit Red Wings built on what is becoming a nice little stretch for them, feeding off the energy of a holiday-mood home crowd.
The cheering at Little Caesars Arena was loud when the Wings killed off a two-man disadvantage during their Thanksgiving Eve game against the Nashville Predators, and louder when the guys in red scored. The Wings came through with a 3-0 victory that extended their winning streak to three games and point streak to seven of a possible eight over four games.
“Our special teams in the second was a huge part of the game,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Not a very good first for us, not a great second, but the special teams bailed us, gave us huge momentum, and our best period was our third.
“All in all, a pretty good game for us.”
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Ville Husso (26 saves) delivered the kind of goaltending the Wings have come to expect: There for the saves he should make, and huge when defensive breakdowns led to grade-A chances for the Predators. Dylan Larkin and Filip Hronek —and Michael Rasmussen in the last minute — provided the goals as the Wings (10-5-4) began a five-game homestand.
“The guys played well, blocked shots, especially in the third period, there was not much going on,” Husso said.
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Larkin lost his balance and landed on his stomach as he sniped a shot that bested Kevin Lankinen 4:09 into the second period, sliding to the end boards before rising in celebration. It was Larkin’s ninth goal on the season and sixth point in three games. David Perron picked up his 10th assist on the play, extending his point streak to six games. It was one of the few scoring chances the Wings had in the first half of the second period, as the Predators continued to create more offensive opportunities.
“Felt fortunate to be up 1-0,” Lalonde said. “It may have been one of our only five-on-five chances for that Dylan finishes.”
Larkin’s goal stirred the Wings, and a lengthy penalty kill did the rest. Ben Chiarot was sent to the penalty box for delay of game 23 seconds after defense partner Moritz Seider went off for tripping, putting the Wings down two skaters — and two of their main penalty killers — for 1:37 near the midpoint of the second period. Larkin, Filip Hronek and Olli Määtta did a masterful job getting in lanes and Husso came through with four saves during the 5-on-3, and five saves total during the 2:37 of Predators power play time to feed the Wings’ momentum.
“That kill there with Hus making big saves and the crowd going crazy got us going,” Larkin said. “We have to clean up a lot in front of our net, especially early in games, but we had a great response in the third.”
Not to be left out, the Wings’ power play came through, too. Dominik Kubalik drew a penalty on Alexandre Carrier at 13:06. A minute and 10 seconds later, the Wings grabbed a two-goal lead. Lankinen stopped Jonatan Berggren’s shot from the right circle, but the Wings got the puck back, and Berggren sent it to Hronek in the high slot. Hronek ripped a shot that sailed past three Predators and took advantage of Andrew Copp being in front of Lankinen. It was Hronek’s fourth goal in three games, and 15th point in 19 games.
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.