Red Wings wallop Coyotes to reach .500 mark
Detroit — No need for the Red Wings to rally Tuesday and earn a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
They never had to, in the least.
The Wings had one of the best starts of the season and never let Arizona back in the game, cruising to 6-1 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
Don’t look now, but with the victory, the Wings moved to the .500 mark (8-8-2, 18 points). They’ve now won four consecutive games, and seven of their last eight to erase those memories of an ugly 1-7-2 start.
They’re won five of six games at Little Caesars Arena since Oct. 28, and taken advantage of a favorable schedule — something they were intent on doing after a difficult first month.
“We had a hard schedule early, that’s a fact,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We didn’t make an excuse of it but it’s a fact. We absolutely made a point that we have not been good enough at home over two years and we have to find a way to get better at it. We’ve talked about gaining momentum and keeping momentum and we’ve done a better job of that, without question.
“Without question coming into this home stand we needed to be better, we wasted home stands the last couple of years. You can’t do that in this league.”
There were times during those first 10 games the Wings played well enough to earn a point, or win — and did not.
Likewise, they found ways to win despite not playing particularly well during this win streak.
“We’ve played good enough hockey to probably be where our record is,” Blashill said. “However we got here, we got here. Now, can we take steps forward? Do we want to be a .500 team or better than that? We’ll decide tomorrow when we get to practice.”
Further good news for Wings fans, it was the young players, in this instance Anthony Mantha, Dennis Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen (power play), who scored the first-period goals getting the Wings off to the quick start.
Luke Glendening, Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green added late goals and goaltender Jimmy Howard made 24 saves.
Arizona's Lawson Crouse made it 6-1 with his third goal at 11:21 of the third period.
In their previous three victories, the Wings had to rally from two-goal deficits each time.
There was no such suspense Tuesday.
“We’ve been playing from behind this season,” Cholowski said. “This was a good thing for us to get into early lead. It’s definitely better.”
Mantha scored his sixth goal, and third in two games, to open scoring with a wrist shot from the dot at 10:13 of the first period.
Cholowski made it 2-0 at 12:24 with his third goal, playing in his first game against Arizona defenseman Jake Chychrun, the player the Coyotes drafted instead of Cholowski in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Cholowski snapped a shot from inside the circle that was challenged by Arizona — Justin Abdelkader made contact with goalie Darcy Kuemper — but the goal stood.
“It was a long look, usually they don’t take that long, I didn’t know what was going on,” Cholowski said. “But I was hoping they’d call it (a goal).”
The Wings capped the first-period flurry with Rasmussen’s third goal, with the Wings on a two-man advantage at 17:22.
Dylan Larkin passed the puck in front, where Rasmussen redirected the puck while sprawling to the ice.
“It was a bit of a rough start to the power play,” Rasmussen said. “Great pass from Larks.”
From there, the Wings let up in the second but regrouped, and earned another impressive victory before an enthusiastic crowd.
“If I know one thing about this city, it respects hard work,” Blashill said. “If we work our tails off every day and compete like crazy, they’ll respect you a ton.”