Henrik Zetterberg’s big night helps Wings to 4-1 start
Las Vegas — Henrik Zetterberg said the other day he was looking forward to visiting Las Vegas, he’d never been there before.
After Friday, Zetterberg might not ever want to leave.
Zetterberg had a goal and three assists, leading the Red Wings to a 6-3 victory over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Zetterberg assisted on third-period goals by Anthony Mantha (his third, at 4:42) and Frans Nielsen (second, at 7:03), that gave the Red Wings a 4-3 lead.
“We’ll remember the two points,” Zetterberg said of the second victory in two nights (Thursday in Arizona was the first), ending the four-game trip. “It was a great atmosphere from the warm-up throughout the game. It was loud, a nice place to play in.”
Gustav Nyquist scored his second goal of the night — and of the season — at 10:49, moving the Red Wings to a 5-3 lead, poking in a rebound of Mantha’s shot, and Luke Glendening capped the scoring with his second goal in two nights.
“We felt we created chances if we spent time in their end,” Zetterberg said. “We just wanted to come in and get the next goal (in the third period) and see what happens.”
Zetterberg has seven points, one behind Mike Green for the team lead.
“You guys saw it, he’s just a great player,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been a great player for a long time in this league. When I say great player, he’s a great winner.”
Blashill shuffled his lines the second half of the game and found a spark with Zetterberg between Mantha and Nyquist.
Nyquist had two goals and an assist, while Mantha had a goal and two assists.
The line was together for about 10 games last season before Nyquist was suspended for six games in February.
“We had a good stretch, we know we can play good together,” Zetterberg said.
The Red Wings’ first visit to T-Mobile Arena lived up to expectations, with a lively sell-out crowd of 17,645 — split about 60-40 in favor of Vegas — making for already one of the better atmospheres in the NHL.
“It was great, it felt like it was a big party in the stands,” Nyquist said. “The fans were loud. They’ve put together a good product it seems like, and a good team, too.”
Friday’s victory gave the Red Wings a 3-1 record on this four-game trip, while moving them to 4-1 on the season.
“It’s huge,” Blashill said of the quick start. “Quick starts are a big factor in success. With that, we had a good start last year and we didn’t finish good enough. Every game becomes critically important.”
Vegas (3-1), not playing like an expansion team, lost its first game.
What made the Red Wings victory complete was a successful fight for Tomas Tatar, his first in the NHL.
Tatar earned the decision over Erik Haula in the third period, after Haula took exception to Tatar’s big hit near the blue line.
“I don’t mind standing up for myself,” said Tatar, who had seven fights in the minor leagues. “I did it in Grand Rapids but here there wasn’t much purpose. But once in a while, I don’t mind it."
Said Blashill: “I’ve seen that side before. I saw it a couple times in the American League. He has a real toughness to him and he got challenged and he answered the bell.”