Red Wings look to keep up the happy tune after first win

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings right wing Gustav Nyquist celebrates after scoring the winning goal in overtime Saturday night.

Sunrise, Fla. — For the first time this season, music was blaring in the Red Wings’ locker room after a game.

Saturday’s 4-3 overtime victory against the Florida Panthers resulted in the Wings’ first victory of the season after opening with seven losses. So, finally, it was time to punctuate the evening with music.

In this instance it was REO Speedwagon.

“You guys (reporters) have been around, it hasn’t been too much fun in the locker room,” forward Dylan Larkin said in the lively locker room after the victory. “To hear that music after the game and see some smiles, it’s huge. Two points for us, and coming into a November stretch where we’re at home for a while, we have to capitalize on that. It was good to see us gut one out.”

The Wings fell behind — as they’ve normally done this season — 2-0 after one period.

But the Red Wings scored three unanswered goals in the second period, including two quick power-play goals, regaining control of the game.

And when Florida tied the game with just more than a minute left in regulation, the Wings didn’t sag, winning in overtime on Gustav Nyquist’s goal.

“We didn’t get rattled,” Larkin said. “Giving up those two early, the Red Wings a week ago would have drooped on the bench and the energy would have been terrible on our bench.

“It wasn’t like that. We battled, and we found a way.”

The message coach Jeff Blashill has been pounding is to take the game shift-to-shift, maintaining a short-term memory as often as possible.

After blowout losses to Boston and Montreal last weekend, Blashill’s message appears to be sinking in.

More: Chris Osgood: 'Inevitable' that Steve Yzerman returns to Red Wings

“When you lose three, four in a row you become fragile,” forward Thomas Vanek said. “It’s hard to stop that. So the message is let’s just play.

“Blash’s message is shift-by-shift. It’s a cliché but that’s kind of what it has to come down to. We played well and you look up and we’re down 2-0 again. We can’t have that mentality of here we go again. So let’s keep playing. It’s been a tough stretch.

"Hopefully this boosts our energy, our confidence, and we can go on from here.”

Bright spot

With a goal and assist Saturday, defenseman Dennis Cholowski now has two goals and three assists in his first six games. According to NHL public relations, Nicklas Lidstrom is the only other defenseman in Wings’ history with five points in his first six NHL games.

There’s been a quite a few young Red Wings making their NHL debuts this opening month of the season — but Cholowski clearly has been the best of them.

What has impressed Blashill most is Cholowski’s “even-keel” personality.

“That’s one of his plusses,” Blashill said. “It’s probably hurt him at times in perception throughout his career, where maybe people wanted more jam and wanted more demonstrative emotion and he just doesn’t have that. He’s a real even-keeled person. That allows him to play in those pressurized moments. He’s been thrown into the fire, he’s had lots of minutes against the other teams’ best players. It’s a real bright spot for the organization.”

Hurricanes at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Hurricanes (4-3-1) have been one of the early-season surprises behind a fast-paced, young offensive attack. … RW Sebastian Aho (9 assists, 13 points) and LW Michael Ferland (5 goals) have led a balanced lineup. … Former Wings G Petr Mrazek has struggled (3.06 GAA, .874 save percentage).