Thanks to their two young stars and a veteran, they easily did. Rookie Dylan Larkin had a goal and an assist, 23-year-old Petr Mrazek made 28 saves and future Hall of Famer Pavel Datsyuk had two assists as the Red Wings routed the New York Islanders 5-1 for their first home win of 2016.
“That was fun, because this was a huge game for our team,” Larkin said. “We were coming off two tough losses, but there wasn’t much said. I think our leaders set the tone yesterday in practice.”
“It is imperative that we get wins at home,” Green said. “We haven’t been getting our points at home, so this was a big night for us to get going in the right direction. The guys played really well and Petr stood on his head.”
The start of the third period was delayed 36 minutes after a Zamboni ripped up a line of ice stretching from in front of the Red Wings net past the blue line. As a result, the teams changed ends at the midway point of the third so that neither team would get an advantage from the bad ice.
“When I was 14, I broke my ankle with a big rut like that, so it was pretty scary to see it,” said Larkin, who is still only 19. “You don’t want anyone to get hurt, but they did a good job covering it over. You didn’t notice it and it didn’t really affect play.”
It certainly didn’t change the way the game was going. Both teams scored a goal while the Red Wings were defending the bad end, giving Detroit the 5-1 lead, and neither team scored in the second half of the period.
“It was an even playing field — it is hard to get any momentum after that, but they had to do the same thing,” said Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic. “That’s just not a good team to play catch up against with Larkin, (Henrik) Zetterberg and Datsyuk zipping around the ice.”
The Red Wings were outshot 10-5 in the first period, but Mrazek kept them in the game and Gustav Nyquist made a great play to put Detroit ahead.
He skated back toward the blue line to retrieve a loose puck and took it along the boards. Just as the Islanders defence was convinced he was going around the net, he flicked a pass back to Jurco, who beat Halak for his third of the season.
Before the period was over, the Red Wings were up 2-0. In a 4-on-4 situation, Pavel Datsyuk’s pass sprung Larkin and Quincey on a 2-on-1 break. Larkin’s pass left Quincey with a fairly easy shot to beat Halak.
Two Islanders penalties in 37 seconds gave the Red Wings a two-man advantage in the second period, and they only needed 19 seconds to capitalize. Green beat Halak from the point for his third of the season and Detroit’s third on eight shots.
Tomas Tatar made it 4-0 midway through the second, knocking home the rebound after Halak couldn’t handle Andreas Athanasiou‘s shot. Athanasiou picked up his first career assist on the play, and Islanders coach Jack Capuano pulled Halak in favour of Jean-Francois Berube.
Larkin didn’t have any problem navigating the choppy seam early in the period, taking the puck away from Brian Strait and putting a shot over Berube’s shoulder for his 18th goal. Tavares made it 5-1 moments later with a power-play goal, but New York wasn’t able to mount any serious comeback.
That was frustrating for Capuano, who saw his team outshoot the Red Wings 29-20.
“I’m not going to lie to you – I thought we played well the whole game,” he said. “The 5-on-3 goal was a big turning point and their guy played great in net.”
NOTES: Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill inserted Athanasiou onto the third line for just his seventh game of the season. Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen were both healthy scratches as the Red Wings try to replace injured Drew Miller. … Thomas Greiss was the odd man out in New York’s three-goalie rotation, sitting out while Halak started ahead of Berube.