LAS VEGAS — For the second time in a week — and after three disappointments — the Detroit Red Wings showed how well things end when they manage the puck and maintain discipline.
They broke even on this trip and bred confidence into their second half with a 3-2 victory Thursday over the Vegas Golden Knights, a team battling for the top spot in the Western Conference.
There was a strong enough contingent of Wings fans in at T-Mobile Arena to render loud “Huuus” responses when Ville Husso made noteworthy saves.
The victory ended a three-game skid that began when the Wings followed up a winning performance over the Toronto Maple Leafs with a flat effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets, both at home. Then came a dismantling at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, and egregiously, blowing a two-goal, third-period lead to settle for a shootout loss at the Arizona Coyotes.
VEGAS VACATION:Steve Yzerman, inner circle, in Vegas for meetings as Red Wings wrap up trip
Lucas Raymond, Dominik Kubalik and Joe Veleno provided the offense and the Wings played well defensively and avoided having to call on their penalty kill. The Knights had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker when Jack Eichel’s shot went in off William Karlsson with 42.4 seconds on the clock.
Bosses are watching
General manager Steve Yzerman and vice president of hockey operations headlined the group of inner-circle Wings executives who took in the game from the press box. They had gathered in town since last Sunday to discuss the state of the team ahead of the March 3 trade deadline, and beyond. Others in attendance included pro scout Kirk Maltby, and Jiri Fischer, the associate director of player personnel.
Dylan Larkin carried the puck across Vegas’ zone and dropped a pass that Raymond turned into his 14th goal of the season. Raymond had a disappointing start to the season (didn’t score until his eighth game, eight goals in 32 games at the Christmas break) but he’s really come on since being put back on a line with Larkin for the Winnipeg game on Jan. 10. Raymond has four goals and four assists in the last eight games.
The Wings were 36.6 seconds from taking a lead into intermission when Alex Pietrangelo one-timed a pass from the left circle to make it 1-1. The puck slipped by Husso’s glove, but on the whole he looked better than his last few starts.
Kubalik had a good shift early in the second period: He drew a tripping penalty on defenseman Nicolas Hague as a result of a little breakaway, and converted during the power play. Kubalik scored on a pass from Oskar Sundqvist, firing a wrist shot from the right circle to pick up goal No. 14 on the season. The Wings made it 3-1 midway through the second period when Veleno flicked a wrist shot past Adin Hill from the slot area. Jonatan Berggren drew the second assist on the play, picking up his 10th helper in 31 games.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.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.