Dylan Larkin, Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings end cold snap with 7-4 win over Lightning

Detroit Free Press

All the Detroit Red Wings wanted in their last home game before Christmas was to have something to celebrate.

It had been a cold, bleak, biting stretch headed into Wednesday’s game at Little Caesars Arena, but once again the Tampa Bay Lightning were just what the Wings needed. They hadn’t won since they last met, but the Wings feasted on the Bolts to the tune of a 7-4 merry ending.

The Wings, who had gone 0-4-2 since celebrating a victory Dec. 6 in Tampa, rallied to tie the game twice in the first period and briefly held a lead in the second. Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott gifted the Wings their fourth goal, as his attempt to play the puck sent it straight to Joe Veleno, who found Elmer Söderblom ready to tap the puck into an open net early in the third period. Dylan Larkin gifted himself a goal when the puck came loose during a scrum in the corner and angled a shot on net that beat Elliott.

David Perron added an empty-net goal with 2:33 to play that gave Larkin an assist on top of his two goals. Michael Rasmussen also scored an empty net goal. Ville Husso made 34 saves.

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Die Hard

It’s a bad scene when foes come into the building and disrupt plans, as the Bolts did when Brayden Point scored just 1:29 into the game. Then Veleno was called for an illegal hit to the head against Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and seven seconds later, Ben Chiarot sent the puck over the glass, leaving the Wings two skaters short for 1:53. But trios of Larkin, Jake Walman and Moritz Seider, and Filip Hronek, Olli Määttä and Andrew Copp, battled in front of Husso to kill off both penalties. Määttä, who last week battled pneumonia, next came through with a goal, finishing a set-up by Pius Suter. Alex Killorn struck for the Lightning at 18:38, but Chiarot amended for his earlier snafu by firing a shot from the blue line that deflected in off Rasmussen, making it 2-2 after the first period.

Scrooged

Husso faced 17 shots in the first period to Elliott’s 15. There was no letup for either goaltender as the game continued. Larkin beat Elliott when Larkin took a pass from Perron and fired a shot that went in off the crossbar, at 11:08. That was Larkin’s 11th goal of the season. The momentum was short lived. Adam Erne was deep in his zone when he lost the puck, and Ross Colton turned that mishap into a quick goal, making it 3-3 after two periods. Shots were 28-23. Määttä was called for roughing at the end of the period, leaving the Wings to kill a fourth straight penalty to start the third. Nikita Kucherov scored to pull the Bolts within a goal with 3:49 to play.

Silent Night

The game marked the first time Jeff Blashill appeared at LCA since being let go as head coach of the Wings, a job he held for seven years until last spring. He was hired a few months later as an assistant with the Lightning. The video clip included Blashill’s time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, who he coached to the Calder Cup championship in 2013. Blashill got fairly tepid response from fans, but at least there was no booing. He compiled a 204-261-72 record, but in fairness, he came in as the Wings entered a decline and never had much talent on his rosters.

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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