Red Wings’ top line clicks, despite team’s struggles

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There hasn’t been much positive regarding the Red Wings lately — except for their top line.

Henrik Zetterberg centering Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist (who is likely to be suspended soon) has been a rare bright spot.

The line was clearly the Red Wings’ best through a three-game road trip that produced no victories — but good news offensively.

“If you look in the past, me and Gus like to play together, and Mo came in this year and he’s played real well,” said Zetterberg, who had a goal in Sunday’s 6-3 loss in Minnesota. “He’s real strong on his stick, a big body and complements me and Gus real well.

“We just need to keep getting better. We keep getting chances, we’re getting a lot of chances, but we need to put a few more away.”

The trio combined for two goals and two assists against the Wild, doing a fine job of controlling the puck.

“We complement each other pretty well,” Nyquist said. “Mo’s a big body who can skate and he’s hard on the forecheck, winning pucks for me and Hank.

“And Hank’s a world-class player, everyone knows that.”

Mantha is tied for second on the team lead with 13 goals despite playing almost the first two months of the season in Grand Rapids.

So far in his young NHL career, Mantha has proven correct all of the hype of being a player with an elite scoring touch.

But Mantha feels getting to play with Zetterberg and Nyquist has helped him.

“We know we need to crash the net and that’s just the mentality we have on our line,” Mantha said. “Obviously Hank and Gus work pretty hard in the corners to get pucks and we’re all just trying to create traffic in front of the net.”

Nyquist’s fate

Nyquist likely will learn his fate Tuesday for the vicious stick to the face of Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon.

Nyquist was given a double-minor on the play, as Spurgeon collapsed onto the ice with a cut above his lip.

The errant stick just missed Spurgeon’s eye.

The NHL Department of Player Safety tweeted Sunday that Nyquist has been offered an in-person hearing —which allows the league to suspend a player a minimum of six games.

Nyquist has never been suspended in his career. He insisted after Sunday’s game there was no intent to injure Spurgeon.

“Completely accidental,” Nyquist said. “I didn’t mean to do that. My stick gets caught, I’m trying to get body position on him. I’m happy he was out there again.

“Obviously I had no intention of doing that. My stick gets caught and looks bad, but I’m happy he’s OK.”

Nyquist was adamant he lost control of his stick, which led to striking Spurgeon.

“I was trying to get over to the other side of him and my stick gets caught,” Nyquist said. “Obviously I have to have better control of my stick.

“But completely accidental.

“That’s just a battle, the way it goes along the boards, then after that I’m trying to get body position on him, and again, my stick gets caught.

“It was good to see him out there right after. I’m happy he was playing the rest of the game.”