Bertuzzi, Mantha, Larkin lead Wings to 5-3 opening-night win
The Red Wings’ top line picked up right where it left off.
The unit of Dylan Larkin between Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha led Detroit to a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in the Wings’ season opener on Saturday night, the first game of the Steve Yzerman regime.
Bertuzzi had two goals and two assists, Mantha a goal and two assists and Larkin a goal and an assist.
It was a continuation of last season when the line finished with a flourish, combining for 18 goals and 39 assists in Detroit’s last eight games. Larkin and Bertuzzi were each plus-four on Saturday and Mantha plus-three.
Jimmy Howard made 39 saves.
The only goal the team’s top trio did not account for was the game winner. That came from Luke Glendening 9:24 into the third period and broke a 3-3 tie. Valtteri Filppula got the lone assist in his first game back with the franchise since 2013.
Glendening also had an assist.
Bertuzzi’s second goal was the empty netter that clinched the win with 1:02 left.
“What we build off the end of last season was being mature late in games, one-goal leads,” Larkin told the Associated Press. “We didn’t back down, we didn’t fold. Ten minutes to go, we got a 1-goal lead, and we locked it up.”
It was a wild third period that saw Detroit take a 3-2 lead on Larkin’s goal at 4:02. Just 1:10 later, defenseman Mattias Ekholm re-tied it for Nashville.
The Wings have beaten the Predators 10 times in the last 11 games.
Nashville tied it 2-2 with two goals in the second period.
Viktor Arvidsson’s power-play goal, which came six seconds after Mantha went off for interference, made it 2-1, 4:40 into the middle period. Filip Forsberg tied it with 7:02 remaining in the second when he was allowed to walk from the half-boards to the left dot and whip a shot past Howard.
The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period with goals 1:11 apart.
Bertuzzi scored the first goal of the season when he one-timed Larkin’s pass home from the right circle with 9:31 left in the opening period. Mantha also got an assist, and then made it 2-0 with 8:40 remaining on a solo rush on which he scored on a spectacular backhand shot from the slot as he was falling to the ice. Bertuzzi got the lone assist.
Larkin hit the goal post late in the period.
The Predators’ Dante Fabbro appeared to score a few seconds after Mantha’s goal, but Detroit coach Jeff Blashill challenged goaltender interference on the play and, after review, the goal was overturned.
In a game-time decision, Andreas Athanasiou did not play due to an injury suffered during a preseason game. He was replaced in the lineup by Darren Helm.
… Detroit hosts Dallas in the home opener at 7 p.m. Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.