DETROIT - At the highest level of the sport, the Detroit Red Wings have learned playing hard doesn't guarantee wins in the NHL.
But on Thanksgiving Eve, powered by the effort from goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit (9-9-3) snapped its four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues (10-7-2) at Little Caesars Arena.
Nedeljkovic was tested all night, especially during the third period. To the delight of the Red Wings faithful that were brought to their feet by his effort, the 25-year-old made many sprawling saves late in the game to preserve the Red Wings' lead. He finished the night with 34 saves and a .944 save percentage.
Video: STL@DET: Nedeljkovic makes save on Scandella
"We're in a good spot, I think. Obviously when you win, you're always happy and always in a better mood," Nedeljkovic said after the game. "The vibe in the room is always a lot better and I still think we have some areas we need to clean up a little bit. I think they were getting a few too many chances tonight that we can't have on a night-to-night basis."
St. Louis kicked off the scoring and capitalized on a power-play opportunity with 9:49 to play in the first period. Center Jordan Kyrou sent a pass from behind the net to forward Pavel Buchnevich, who fired the puck past Nedeljkovic into the back of the net. This ended the Red Wings' streak of 19 straight penalty kills and put St. Louis ahead, 1-0.
It was the first power-play goal Detroit has allowed at home since Oct. 19 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings evened the score when captain Dylan Larkin dished the puck to forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who was surrounded by three Blues players in the neutral zone. Amid the commotion, Bertuzzi snuck the puck to forward Lucas Raymond and the rookie buried a shot on a breakaway to knot the score at 1-1.
Video: STL@DET: Raymond goes 5 hole to score on a breakaway
For Raymond, it's been a strong start to his NHL career. The No. 4 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft leads all rookies in scoring this season and became the 11th teenager in the past 35 years to record his 20th career point in 21 games or fewer on Wednesday.
"I was happy to see his game tonight," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Raymond. "You know, as the road trip went along, he was starting to lose a little steam. So, I was curious to see where he was at, and I thought he came and had good energy. He's smart, he's hard, he's competitive."
In addition, Raymond joins Red Wings legend and current executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman as the only players in franchise history to accomplish such a feat, as Yzerman recorded his 20th point in 17 games during the 1983-84 season.
Detroit secured its second goal of the night with 12:15 left in the second period when center Robby Fabbri passed the puck to Filip Zadina, who fed the puck to Larkin as he raced into open ice in front of the net. Larkin took advantage of the space and scored to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.
Video: STL@DET: Larkin buries a loose puck in the slot
With 10 goals this season, Larkin has surpassed his 2019-20 goal total in 17 games.
In the third period, the Blues tallied an equalizer with 18:49 to play after forward David Perron scored to make it a 2-2 score. St. Louis defensemen Scott Perunovich and Kyrou were both credited with assists.
Less than four minutes later, Detroit reclaimed the lead when forward Adam Erne, off an assist from center Vladislav Namestnikov, recorded his third goal of the season with a shot from the point that pushed the Red Wings ahead, 3-2.
With 1:55 to play, Fabbri got revenge against his former team when he scored an empty-net goal to put Detroit ahead for good.
Video: STL@DET: Fabbri scores in 3rd period
The Red Wings will look to keep their momentum rolling on Saturday night as they host the Buffalo Sabres on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.
DeKeyser Enters COVID-19 Protocol
Prior Wednesday night's game the Red Wings announced that defenseman Danny DeKeyser was placed in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.
This season, DeKeyser has two points in 19 games for the Red Wings.
Veleno Exits Game
Red Wings center Joe Veleno was injured in the second period and exited the ice. Minutes into the third period, Detroit announced the 21-year-old would not return due to an upper-body injury.