'We didn't fold': Wings end skid on Larkin's OT winner
Detroit — Dylan Larkin wanted the puck, wanted the moment, and he definitely made the most of it.
Larkin scored with just 26 seconds left in overtime Friday — after the Red Wings allowed a late, game-tying goal to Nashville, then wasted a power-play opportunity in overtime — to give the Wings an entertaining 4-3 victory over the Predators at Little Caesars Arena.
Larkin drove through the slot and backhanded a shot past goalie Pekka Rinne for his 18th goal.
“Great by Fil (Filip Hronek) slowing it down, and he saw how bad I wanted the puck,” said Larkin, who leads the NHL with four overtime goals. “I knew their defense was tired. I did a stop and go, and from there I saw daylight. I felt a like a running back and went to the net.”
The four overtime goals this season also establishes a new single-season franchise record for the Red Wings.
Nashville's Ryan Johansen tied the game at 3 at 18 minutes, 44 seconds of the third period after the Predators had pulled Rinne.
Normally, those are the types of plays that would have sunk the Wings this season. But Larkin felt a confident, positive vibe, even after Johansen scored.
“The bench felt we weren’t losing, there’s no way,” Larkin said. “We played too well, too much was going right for us, we were getting too many chances.
“I knew one way or another, we were going to win that game, and we didn’t sink or fold.”
The Wings (16-20-7, 39 points) ended a six-game winless streak, and it was their second win in their last 12 games (2-7-3).
“I didn’t think we played fragile all night,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When we got down early (2-0), we played to win the whole night. The same is true when it went in late, all you can do is keep playing.
“We’ve played a number of games lately where we could have won. This game, we should have won, we deserved to win, and I’m glad we were rewarded for that effort.”
Tyler Bertuzzi scored his 10th goal at 11:57 of the third to break a 2-2 tie, ending a 15-game goal drought.
Goals from Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek, who was playing in career game No. 1,000, tied the game at 2 in the second period.
Vanek played one of his better games this season on a milestone night.
“It was a lot of fun,” Vanek said of the evening. “I didn’t know what to expect. The fans were great, and we played real good, got the win, so it was perfect. We played with a lot of passion.
“We played to win. It showed the whole game, even when we got down 2-0. For the most part, I shouldn’t say we dominated, but we carried the play real well and there was no panic, so it was, 'Let’s get to overtime and get Larkin out there.'”
P.K. Subban and Craig Smith added Predators goals.
The Wings welcomed back Anthony Mantha to the lineup after missing the last 15 games with a hand injury.
Mantha skated as if he hadn't missed a beat all evening, looking very effective on a line with Frans Nielsen and Vanek.
“He was big and strong, exactly what he is,” Vanek said. “He plays like that, he’s one of the best power forwards in the league. He gave Frans and me so much space. He was great.”
For a team that’s been struggling like the Wings have, this was a victory that felt good.
“You keep getting kicked, and life’s always about getting back up and our have guys have continued to get back up,” Blashill said.