Johan Franzen and his linemates were too much for the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Franzen scored two goals and set up two others to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 7-4 victory against the New Jersey Devils, avenging a one-goal road loss from three nights earlier. The line of Franzen, Gustav Nyquist and newcomer David Legwand, acquired from the Nashville Predators prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday, combined for four goals and 11 points.
"[General manager] Kenny [Holland] being able to get the deal done at the deadline was obviously big for us. Legwand is a guy who's been around," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "As soon as he gets comfortable, he'll be even better. He's going to help our team."
Nyquist broke a 3-3 tie at 15:05 of the second period, Kyle Quincey made it a two-goal game 1:56 later, and Legwand converted the rebound of Franzen's shot for his first goal with the Red Wings 4:48 into the third period.
Franzen set up Brendan Smith's first-period goal, then scored twice during Detroit's four-goal second period. Drew Miller added a third-period goal.
"Mule's been good. He just hasn't gotten to play very much," Babcock said of Franzen, who's been limited to 36 games because of injuries and appeared in one from Dec. 15 until Feb. 26 because of a concussion. "Now that he's playing, it's obviously important."
Franzen has four goals and seven points in three games against the Devils this season.
"He's an elite player," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said of Franzen, who has six goals in five games since play resumed after the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "He's a force out there."
New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider allowed his career-high in goals after Martin Brodeur defeated Detroit 4-3 Tuesday in Newark, N.J.
"I needed to bear down and make that big save, but the game got out of hand," Schneider said. "You play enough games over the course of a season where you have games like that, but I just have to put it behind me."
Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves and is 15-4-3 for the Red Wings (29-21-13), who snapped a two-game losing streak and solidified their hold on the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
"We kept playing the way we should play," Gustavsson said. "We didn't stop."
The Devils (27-24-13) got two goals from Adam Henrique and one each from Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr but fell four points behind the Red Wings and matched the most goals they've allowed this season. The New York Rangers defeated New Jersey 7-3 at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26.
"I thought [Detroit] played a very good game, and for whatever reason, we didn't," DeBoer said. "We didn't do enough to win the game, that's the bottom line."
Some smart puck-handling by Franzen led to Smith's game-opening goal at 13:43. Franzen picked up a feed from Nyquist and controlled the puck in the New Jersey zone while his team changed. Smith, the last of the Red Wings coming off the bench, raced to the blue line and one-timed Franzen's pass from the right circle through a screen past Schneider for his third goal of the season and second this week against the Devils.
New Jersey had two good chances early in the second period, but Gustavsson denied Andy Greene's left-point slap shot through a screen and Jagr whipped a backhander wide of the net on the next shift. That miss came back to bite the Devils; on the return rush, Franzen deflected Nyquist's wrister from beyond the top of the right circle past Schneider at 5:34. Legwand had the second assist for his first point with the Red Wings.
"They're world-class players," Legwand said. "Obviously, Gus is speed and skill and Mule is a big body that can skate. He's deadly from the top of the circles in, and he's a big body that loves to go to the net."
Detroit had a chance to take a commanding lead when New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne was called for interference at 7:47. Instead, the Devils got back into it when Elias scored a shorthanded goal at 9:23. After Detroit rookie forward Tomas Jurco flubbed a one-timer, Elias led a 2-on-1 rush and blasted a slap shot from above the top of the right circle past Gustavsson for his 14th of the season.
The Devils tied it 57 seconds later on a great individual effort by Jagr, who bulled his way through two Red Wings in the slot before zipping a wrister past Gustavsson. It was Jagr's 20th goal of the season, the 18th time he's reached that milestone in the NHL but the first since he had 25 for the New York Rangers in 2007-08.
With the Red Wings reeling, Henrique put the Devils ahead for the first time at 11:44. Fayne threw the puck from the right half-wall toward the slot, where Henrique slipped the check of Quincey, deflected the puck through Gustavsson's pads, and banged it into the net for his career-best 20th of the season.
That 3-2 lead lasted only until Franzen's power-play goal at 13:47. With defenseman Jon Merrill off for delay of game after shooting the puck into the seats, Franzen came down the slot and one-timed Todd Bertuzzi's pass from the lower left circle past Schneider for his 15th of the season.
Nyquist, who had three assists, put Detroit ahead when he carried from his own zone into the slot and whipped a high shot past Schneider for his 16th goal of the season to break the tie. Quincey scored his fourth of the season at 17:01 when he came late and rifled a pass from Riley Sheahan past Schneider from inside the left circle.
Legwand, who had the primary assist on Nyquist's goal, fired home a rebound for a three-point night after Schneider stopped Franzen's shot from the slot following a turnover.
The Devils play the second half of a back-to-back Saturday night at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Captain Bryce Salvador said getting right back on the ice could be the best thing for his team.
"They outplayed us, they outcompeted us, they won most of the battles and they were the hungrier team and that's what the result was," Salvador said. "Everyone understands what happened tonight was unacceptable. As a group, we've just got to be better. We all know that in here and we'll definitely bring it tomorrow.”
Material from team media was used in this report