Wings get rare win in Boston on Nielsen’s 1st goal of season
The Wings bench angles for a better look as Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask fights with Jimmy Howard during a scrum in the second period at TD Garden Saturday.
It took Frans Nielsen doing something he had not done since March for the Red Wings to do something they had not done in more than five years.
Nielsen’s first goal of the season broke a tie with 8:07 left, and Detroit went on to beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the Wings’ first regular-season win in Boston since October 2013. They had been 0-9-2 there since then.
“Huge win. Just for the fact that we’ve gone into the building and struggled the past few years,” Nielsen said on FOX Sports Detroit after the game.
Nielsen’s last goal had come March 27 of last season.
On Saturday he tipped in Dan DeKeyser’s shot from the point out of the air.
“You do a little bit” that you’re never going to score again, Nielsen said. “But at the same time, you just go out and play your game, and it will go in sooner or later.”
Nielsen has 14 assists this season in 22 games.
“He looked happy. He’s had a good year,” coach Jeff Blashill said about Nielsen. “He’s really played great from about the sixth game” of the season.
Gustav Nyquist added an empty-net goal and had two assists. Jimmy Howard made 38 saves, and Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin also scored.
“I think it’s the first time in my career we’ve won here,” said Larkin, who is correct. “We were ready to play from the goalie out, a good team win.”
The game was also more physical than most in the NHL these days.
The Wings’ Luke Witkowski laid a big hit on the Bruins’ David Krejci late in the second period and then fought Joakim Nordstrom, who challenged Witowski because of the hit. Later in the period, a jawing and shoving match between Bertuzzi and Boston star and shift disturber Brad Marchand almost led to a full “old-time hockey” six-on-six brawl after Marchand slashed Howard, who was heading to the bench to get a sixth attacker on the ice as a penalty was being called on the Bruins.
Only the linesmen getting between Howard and Boston goalie Tuukka Rask prevented a full melee and also seemed to defuse the entire situation.
“Just going to the bench for the delayed penalty and got a two-hander along the way,” Howard said. “Just turned around and all hell broke loose … I was ready to go. It would have been interesting, even though Tuuk (Rask) and I are friends.”
The Red Wings came out of that situation with a power play, and it took only 21 seconds for Larkin to score a power-play goal to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. But Ryan Donato’s power-play goal 5:31 into the third period tied it for the Bruins.
Detroit doesn’t have much time to celebrate the win. They host the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m. Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
The Avalanche (15-6-5) are 8-0-2 in their last 10 and feature the NHL’s top two scorers in Mikko Ratanen (11-32-43) and Nathan MacKinnon (18-23-41).
The Red Wings (12-11-3) are 11-4-1 in their last 16.
“Great test tomorrow night, great test,” Blashill said. “We’re going to get back (to Detroit) at a decent time and see how we stack up against one of the best.”