Young Wings ride modest win streak into home game against NJ
Tyler Bertuzzi, 23, celebrates his winning goal late in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings head into Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, FOX Sports-Detroit) on their first winning streak of the season.
Detroit (3-7-2) defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on the road on Tuesday night for its second consecutive win, thanks to many of the young players who the Wings hope will be a big part of a successful future.
In maybe the best game of his three-plus season NHL career, Dylan Larkin, 22, had two goals and an assist; Tyler Bertuzzi, 23, scored the winning goal late in the third period on a nice set up from 20-year-old rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski; Anthony Mantha, 24, scored in his second straight game, and 19-year-old rookie Michael Rasmussen scored his first NHL goal.
Larkin had a shorthanded goal and the empty-net clincher in 23:04 of ice time and was dominant at both ends of the ice. Wearing an “A” as an alternate captain after the retirement of captain Henrik Zetterberg this season, Larkin leads the Red Wings with six goals and 12 points.
“He definitely drove the bus for us tonight,” Rasmussen told NHL.com. “It was definitely a big game for him, but he's like that every night. He's a big role model for me, too."
Rasmussen, who is living with Larkin, seemed to take a major step. In his 10th game, after the Wings made the decision to not send him back to Juniors. It took him just 1:06 into the game to get his first goal – on the power play – on a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Thomas Vanek. Rasmussen, 6-6 and 221 pounds, had four shots in 13:04. He only had seven shots in his first nine games.
“I think scoring is going to help. Obviously, when you score it does a lot for your confidence,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought he had a great game out there.”
Larkin’s shorthanded goal and Mantha’s even-strength tally made it 3-0, after the first period. Mantha has struggled most of the season but seems to be finding his game the last two contests.
“I thought Mantha was great the first two periods,” Blashill said.
It remained 3-0 until Columbus scored three times in less than 10 minutes in the third period to tie the game at 3.
But with less than four minutes left in regulation, Cholowski got the puck at the left point and skated towards the net. He faked a shot near the top of the left circle, which froze Blue Jackets forward Anthony Duclair, continued behind the net and threw a pass in front on the other side of the net. The puck went off the corner of the net or goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, bounced out to Bertuzzi, who backhanded a shot high into the net for the game winner with 3:24 left.
“That was a great play,” Larkin said of Cholowski’s effort. “… He showed poise, and Bert was there to jam it home.”
It was Bertuzzi’s second consecutive third-period tiebreaking goal. He broke a 1-1 tie in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars at Little Caesars Arena.
Forwards Frans Nielsen (undisclosed) and Andreas Athanasiou (leg injury) missed Tuesday night’s game. Vanek left early in first period with a lower-body injury and is expected to miss two-to-three weeks.
As it was, Detroit went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Blue Jackets instead of the usual 12 forwards and six defensemen.
So the Red Wings recalled center Wade Megan from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League and sent defenseman Joe Hicketts to the same team on Wednesday.
Megan, 28, has two goals and four points in eight games with Grand Rapids and had a goal in four NHL games with the St. Louis Blues in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Megan is expected to make his Red Wings debut on Thursday as Detroit begins a five-game homestand.
Hicketts had no points and no penalties in eight games, averaging 17:06 of ice time.