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Feisty Wings top Predators, Larkin wins first fight

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings have been a different team so far this season at Joe Louis Arena than on the road — overall, a much better one.

Friday was another example early this season, as another roaring crowd carried the Red Wings to a 5-3 victory. The Red Wings have won three straight, including their only two home games.

This may have been the Red Wings’ most complete game this young season, as they outshot a flu-ridden Nashville team 42-33, brought sustained pressure, and controlled all three zones.

Plus, the Red Wings continued their early-season physical dominance with their fifth fight of the season from an unlikely source: Dylan Larkin.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 5, Predators 3

“Guys liked it,” Larkin said. “I saw She(ahan) laughing on the bench. I was laughing, too, hoping to get the guys going a little bit, show them I was there to battle.”

All three Nashville goals came on Predators power plays, but other than that area, the Red Wings were pleased.

“This was our best game of the season,” said Tomas Tatar, who scored his first goal of the season. “We knew we didn’t play well (Wednesday in New York). We did lot of good stuff (Friday) and we have to learn from it.”

Tatar scored at 1 minute, 10 seconds of the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie, and Gustav Nyquist made it 4-2, after a Predators turnover, at 11:27.

It was the first goal of the season for both Tatar and Nyquist.

The Predators cut the lead to 4-3 at 15:14 as Mike Fisher scored on the power play.

But Darren Helm scored an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left to end it.

“Overall we had a lot of guys playing good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We were a good hockey team for most of the night.”

An agitated Larkin got into his first NHL fight, and won it decisively, over Nashville’s Yannick Weber at 2:47 of the third period after Weber had clipped Larkin with his stick.

It was Weber’s first NHL fight, as well.

“I was wondering whether he (Larkin) was trying out for Bruise Brothers,” Blashill said. “It was good. We’ve talked about sticking up for each other but you have to stick up for yourself sometimes, and over the last two years he’s taken a lot of abuse.

“He did a good job. Good for him.”

Larkin landed at least two strong right hands and threw Weber to the ice before they were separated.

For the Red Wings, it was the NHL-leading fifth fight after they had eight all of last season.

“Sticking up for each other,” Larkin said. “It’s fun, we’re battling. You can’t question our compete level and how much we want to win.

“I don’t think he (Weber) is a fighter, either. But it was good to come out on top.”

Justin Abdelkader (power play) and Drew Miller also scored for the Red Wings.

P.K. Subban and Mike Ribeiro scored second-period power-play goals for Nashville 18 seconds apart.

It was Miller’s goal, his second in two games, that sparked the Red Wings.

Capping a good pressure shift by the Red Wings fourth line, he beat goalie Pekka Rinne high and tied the game 2-2 with only 39 seconds left in the second period.

It was Miller’s ninth goal against the Predators in 27 games.

“That was a huge goal,” Blashill said. “We had played very, very well and then got into penalty trouble and they score and suddenly you’re down 2-1 after you’d played well.

“I was real happy with our guys’ resolve there. We had a good shift before that and Miller scored and that was a huge momentum swing.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan