Detroit — Dylan Larkin’s first career shootout goal couldn’t have come at a better time.
Larkin was the lone goal scorer in the tie-breaking skill competition Tuesday against the Canucks, sending the Wings to a 3-2 victory.
Larkin had missed all seven of his shootout attempts the previous three seasons before converting his first attempt this season.
“It did feel good to finally get one,” Larkin said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve had plenty of chances. This is the first time I’ve had a move in mind and just stuck with it.”
Maybe the difference, in Larkin’s opinion, was the ability to go first among the Red Wings’ shooters.
Coach Jeff Blashill sent Larkin first ahead of Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader, and the strategy worked.
“Part of that was going first,” Larkin said. “There was…not as much pressure, I guess. It was nice to score and it was nice to see Howie (goaltender Jimmy Howard) with some big stops in the shootout, and for us to get the two points.
“That was most important.”
Larkin has attempted to whittle down to a couple moves he can go to when in a breakaway situation. Larkin feels the goalie doesn’t know what the shooter is going to do, so a lot of the pressure falls on the goaltender.
“It’s tough in this league to see what they’re doing and read off the goalie,” Larkin said. “Stick with a move and keep trying it, you don’t need to have five or six moves. I don’t even know if that’s my move, or what happened. I don’t want to give it away.”
Larkin said he has two or three moves he counts on, but his shootout “percentage wouldn’t say that.”
Larkin was injured late in the first period of Tuesday’s game but returned early in the second period and finished it.
He missed practice Wednesday and returned Thursday with no lingering problems.
“I got tangled up with a guy in the corner and it came from behind, so it could have been worse,” Larkin said. “It is what it is, it’s part of the game. I’m lucky I’m all right.”
Blashill confirmed Larkin will be in the lineup Friday against the New York Rangers.
Rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski has had quite a start to his season.
Cholowski leads Wings defensemen with eight points (tied for third in the NHL with three other rookies) and is second in average time on ice at 20 minutes, 41 seconds.
Cholowski has been effective on the power play (six of his eight points) and has shown the ability to make a play when needed.
“A big part of the power play is making plays,” Blashill said. “The schemes are somewhat similar throughout the league and you have to either have the poise and draw people to you and make seam passes or get shots through.
“He’s done a good job of that. He has poise up the ice and good poise in the zone.
“He’s a better offensive player than I would have given him credit for coming into the year. Part of that is the work he put in during the summer and part of it is his ability.”
Forwards Frans Nielsen (concussion protocol) and Andreas Athanasiou (undisclosed) both practiced Thursday and should be available to play against the Rangers, according to Blashill.
…Former Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith has made a good turnaround in New York. Smith was demoted to the minors last season, but won a job out of training camp and has played in all 15 games with three points (one goal, two assists), while averaging 17 minutes of ice time.
Rangers at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The Rangers (7-7-1, 15 points) have rebounded from a poor start to win four consecutive games…C Mika Zibanejad (six goals, 13 points) and LW Chris Kreider (seven goals) lead offensively, while G Henrik Lundqvist (.922 save percentage) continues to star.