Red Wings, Penguins to play OT hockey — tied or not

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Fans attending or watching Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh had an opportunity to watch overtime hockey — or at least some extra hockey, regardless if the game is tied after regulation time or not.

With the NHL going to a 3-on-3 overtime format this season, teams are playing certain games with the bonus hockey included for the evening, regardless of the score.

The league simply wants the teams to get acclimnated and comfortable with the format.

Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh is one of those games just as Tuesday’s game in Chicago was, although that game ended 4-4 in regulation time. The Blackhawks won in overtime.

“Just to make sure, teams wanted, and us specifically, wanted to make sure we had some opportunity to play the 3-on-3 overtime in case none of the (exhibition) games ended up tied,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

Each team gets to play in three of these types of games in the exhibition season.

The Red Wings’ third such game will occur Oct. 2 in Toronto.

Fans and players alike appear to be warming to the format, which likely will greatly reduce the number of games that enter into a shootout.

“There’s always 2-on-1’s either way and chances galore,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “There’s a lot of speed and skill out there and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Larkin's debut

This, obviously, wasn’t the regular season just yet.

But it was an opportunity for Dylan Larkin to play at Joe Louis Arena, in front of family of family and friends, and wearing a Red Wings sweater.

The Waterford native was looking forward to the occasion, playing Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an exhibition game, but was attempting to downplay it as much as he could.

The Penguins were scheduled to have Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, but stars Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel were not likely to play.

“It’s exciting but it’s another hockey game and you can’t be in awe of who is playing in their lineup and playing in the game,” Larkin said.

Blashill didn’t think playing in front of family and friends was going to distract Larkin, who has shown remarkable poise early in his pro career.

“Part of being a pro, or becoming a pro, is learning how to handle any distractions, though I don’t consider family a distraction," Blashill said. "It’s a great thing for him to be able to lace up in his hometown and play. He has a tremendous family and they’ll be loud and excited for him. Dylan will handle it and that’s what makes him a pretty special young guy, that he can handle all those things.

“He seems to have big time maturity beyond his age.”

Ice chips

Goaltender Jimmy Howard will play the entire game against the Penguins, as will Petr Mrazek on Saturday against Boston.

… Defenseman Xavier Ouellet has yet to play an exhibition game and is listed as day-to-day, Blashill said, with an upper body injury.

… The Red Wings sent forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the 2015 first-round draft pick, back to his junior team in the Quebec junior league.

“I like his approach,” Blashill said. “He’s a big body who has good physical tools.”