Saved: Nedeljkovic carries Red Wings to 4-2 victory over St. Louis
Detroit — The turkey is going to taste a little better for the Red Wings.
In the traditional Thanksgiving Eve game Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena, the Wings sent a festive crowd home happy with a 4-2 victory.
Adam Erne broke a 2-2 tie with his third goal, flinging a shot on net that caught the top corner over Blues goalie Ville Husso. Robby Fabbri clinched it with an empty-net goal against his former team. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic preserved the lead with some timely saves.
"When you win you're always happy and in a better mood," said Nedeljkovic, who had 35 saves and was a third-period star. "We still have some areas we need to clean up a little bit. They were getting a few too many chances that we can't have on a night-to-night basis. But regardless, a win is a win.
"Especially after a road trip we slipped up a little bit (four winless games)."
Lucas Raymond and Dylan Larkin added Wings goal as Detroit moved back to .500 (9-9-3) on the season.
Nedeljkovic preserved the 3-2 lead with a diving, sprawling save on a rebound by the Blues' Marco Scandella that got the LCA crowd roaring. He keyed killing two Blues power plays midway in the third period.
"For the guys, it's just knowing I have their backs," said Nedeljkovic of the third-period saves. "A few of them I was caught out of position. So just giving them confidence they can play their game and swagger, and if something slips up, I can come up with the save."
David Perron tied it 2-2 for St. Louis (10-7-2) with his seventh goal, at 1:11 of the third period, on a bad angle goal that found a hole between the post and Nedeljkovic.
But Erne answered, and the Wings were able to keep the third-period lead, something they didn't do in two road games last week.
"Those two games (in Columbus, Arizona), we let leads slip away and late goals tied it up. It's always great when you can close out a good team like that (St. Louis)," Nedeljkovic said. "Just grinding it out to the very end. It's not going to come easy, there's no such thing as an easy night in this league. So for us to get a win like that, it's huge and hopefully we can build some momentum."
The Wings depended too much on Nedeljkovic in the third period.
"Too many chances, I just thought we got loose in our own end," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We gave up too many prime-time chances and it gets you back on your heels."
Having two complete days off, then a spirited practice Tuesday, energized the Wings, who were sluggish near the end of a busy stretch capped by the road trip.
"We definitely had more energy at points," Blashill said. "Listen, it was a hard grind. We played a lot of hockey in a short amount of time. So it was great to get those days and get home and settled."
Larkin broke a 1-1 tie with his 10th goal, putting back a loose puck in front of Husso at 7:45 of the second period. It extended Larkin's point streak to six games, with nine points (six goals, three assists) during that span.
Raymond tied the game 1-1 with his eighth goal in the first period.
Tyler Bertuzzi found Raymond breaking in alone on the right wing, and Raymond beat Husso at 13:48.
Raymond, 19, continues to hit milestones with each point during this impressive early start.
With 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 21 games, Raymond joined current general manager Steve Yzerman (17 games) as just the second Red Wings' teenager to collect his first 20 career points in 21 games or fewer.
Raymond, who leads all NHL rookies in scoring, became the 11th teenager in the last 35 years to record his 20th career point in 21 games or less.
"He lost a little steam (toward the end of the road trip), but he came back and had some energy," Blashill said.
The Wings lost forward Joe Veleno to an upper body injury in the third period. Veleno did not return to the game.
The Wings are off until Saturday, when they host Buffalo at 7 p.m.