DETROIT – Unfortunately, Drew Miller’s team ironman streak of 190 straight games played comes to an end tonight.
The Red Wings’ fourth-line forward suffered a cracked jaw during a first-period collision with Arizona forward Klas Dahlbeck in Thursday’s 5-1 win at Joe Louis Arena.
Miller underwent surgery this morning so doctors could insert plates to speed the healing process.
With Miller expected to miss up to the next six weeks, the Wings have a new ironman, Gustav Nyquist, who has played in 152 consecutive games since his rookie season.
Miller’s absence will be felt on the penalty kill. A fourth-line grinding type himself, Joakim Andersson returns to the lineup. He’s faceoff skills will be particularly useful in the defensive zone.
Andersson has drawn into the lineup three times this season, only to exit the lineup in favor of other teammates.
“He hasn’t got much opportunity and sometimes it gets misconstrued when a guy comes out of the lineup that he hasn’t played well,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “It might just mean we think that other guys are ahead of him, but it doesn’t mean that he’s not a very good hockey player. I think Andy is a very good hockey player. I think he’s a winner. I think he’s a very good penalty killer. I think he’s very accountable defensively and he can win faceoffs. I think one of the underrated things about Andy is that he’s actually a really good passer of the puck. He can really make tight area passes. That’s something he did for me in the American League and that’s something I’ve seen him do in the National Hockey League. We hope Andy can come in and be really good. I think teams have to rely on their depth through the year and this is where we’d like an opportunity to rely on our depth and have him pop in and be real good.”
The 26-year-old Andersson is one of three Wings’ forwards seeking his first goal of the season. Brad Richards and Tomas Jurco are the others.
November’s rookie of the month, Dylan Larkin, has points in seven of the past nine games. He leads the Red Wings with 10 goals.
His 19 points in his first 26 NHL games is tied for 69th in franchise rookie scoring with Bert Marshall (1965-66), Jody Gage (1981-82) and Joe Murphy (1987-88).
Larkin’s next goal will tie him for 41st on the club’s all-time rookie goals list. Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Tim Taylor, Daniel Shank and Dennis Polonich all registered 11 goals in their freshman seasons.
It took nearly two months, but Brad Richards finally scored his first goal as a Red Wing.
As unconventional as it was – his shot from the slot was saved by Pekka Rinne, but caromed into the net off of Shea Weber’s right skate – Richards has to be relieved to finally get No. 289 of his career.
Prior to Rchards’ goal in the final minute of the period, it certainly looked like the players would head to their dressing rooms with a scoreless tie.
While the Red Wings peppered Buffalo and Arizona for a combined 90 shots on goal this week, the Predators’ defense was doing what they do best. Ranked second in the league for fewest shots allowed (26.5), the Predators held Arizona and Florida to 15 and 16 shots, respectively, this week.
With a minute remaining in the period, the Wings were being outshot 13-5 with only Larkin, Richards, Niklas Kronwall, Luke Glendening and Brendan Smith getting shots through to all-star goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Wings had a very good scoring chance early on. Tied for the team lead with 10 shots over the last two games, Darren Helm, who had a pair of breakaway chances Thursday night, had a glorious opportunity but lifted a shot wide of the net.
Racing toward the net, Helm made a move that pulled Pekka Rinne out of position, but the backhander by the Wings’ forward sailed wide of the open net.
Making his 16th start of the season, goalie Petr Mrazek was solid making 13 saves, including one that he denied from close range by Filip Forsberg.
DETROIT 1, NASHVILLE 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Richards (Tatar, Larkin) 19:21.
PENALTIES: 1. NSH, Jones (slashing) 2:37; 2. DET, DeKeyser (hooking) 9:50; 3. NSH, Jones (slashing) 17:16; 4. DET, Jurco (roughing) 19:51.
SHOTS: Detroit 6, Nashville 13
The Predators defensemen went on the offensive in the middle frame.
Weber scored two power-play goals and Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi added assists as Nashville took a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of action.
It didn’t take long for the Predators to erase a one-goal deficit and take the lead under three minutes into the period.
Weber, who helped the Wings to a 1-0 lead when a rebound inadvertently ricocheted off his skate, got one back for the Predators with his team-leading sixth power-play goal of the season. The Preds’ veteran trails only Carolina’s Justin Faulk (8), who leads all NHL defensemen.
Less than two minutes later, former Red Wings draft pick Calle Jarnkrok won an offensive zone face-off, which led to the Preds taking a 2-1 lead. Stationed in front of Mrazek, forward Viktor Arvidsson knocked Ellis’s point shot out of midair and into the net.
Weber’s second power-play goal of the game gave the Predators a two-goal cushion late in the period. The goal came just six seconds after Helm went to the penalty box for roughing Ellis. Originally, the on-ice officials missed the goal, as it appeared that Danny DeKeyser swept the puck out of the crease before it crossed the goal line. On the next stoppage, the referees consulted with the NHL’s situation room in Toronto where it was determined that the goal had crossed.
The Wings scored their own power-play goal, trimming the deficit to 3-2 when Tomas Tatar scored his 10th of the season, re-directing Mike Green’s blast passed Rinne. Tatar is now tied for the team lead in goals with Larkin.
NASHVILLE 3, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. NSH, Weber PPG (Josi, Fordberg) 1:03; 2. NSH, Arvidsson (Ellis, Jarnkrok) 2:53; 3. NSH, Weber PPG (unassisted) 15:28; 4. DET, Tatar PPG (Green, Datsyuk) 17:04.
PENALTIES: 1. NSH, Ekholm (cross-check, roughing) 7:08; 2. DET, Abdelkader (roughing) 7:08; 3. DET, Helm (roughing) 15:22; 4. NSH, Smith (slashing) 15:51.
SHOTS: Detroit 17 (23), Nashville 12 (25).
Weber’s third power-play goal of the game gave Nashville a 4-2 lead. The veteran is just the fifth player in franchise history – and the first defenseman – to register a hat trick.
However, the Wings didn’t show any quit, scoring twice to equal the score 4-4.
Larkin’s 11th of the season, pulling Detroit to within one goal.
The goal was Larkin’s second career multi-point game. He drew a secondary assist on Richards’ first-period goal that gave Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Larkin now has 21 points on the season tying him for 55th on the all-time rookie franchise points list with Johnny Sheppard (1926-27), Steve Black (1949-50), Pit Martin (1963-64), Thommie Bergman (1972-73), Perry Miller (1977-78), Chris Cichocki (1985-86), Bob Probert (1985-86), Mike Sillinger (1992-93) and Anders Eriksson (1997-98).
With 2:39 left in regulation, the Wings got the break that they needed when Ellis went to the box for boarding Helm.
From there, Justin Abdelkader scored on a deflection from Gustav Nyquist’s shot.
NASHVILLE 4, DETROIT 4
SCORING: 1. NSH, Weber PPG (Josi, Forsberg) 8:03; 2. DET, Larkin (Ericsson) 9:19; 3. DET, Abdelkader PPG (Nyquist, Zetterberg) 17:37.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Andersson (slashing) 7:02; 2. NSH, Ellis (boarding) 17:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (34), Nashville 5 (31).
It was a fast and furious period that ended with Nyquist picking a spot and firing a shot under Rinne’s right arm for the win.
The Red Wings finished a six-game homestand – their longest of the season – and now have produced points in the last 10 games (7-0-3).
The Wings are off until next Tuesday when they travel to Washington to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
DETROIT 5, NASHVILLE 4
SCORING: 1. DET, Nyquist (Kronwall) 1:41.
SHOTS: Detroit 2 (36), Nashville 1 (32)