DETROIT -- It wasn't a poorly played game by the Red Wings in their 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena, it was more that the Knights capitalized on their scoring chances while the Red Wings squandered their chances, especially on the power play.
While the Knights were 1-for-2 with the man-advantage, the Red Wings were 1-for-4, which allowed the Knights to ramp up their game and score three straight second-period goals after trailing 1-0 after the first period.
Detroit pulled to with a goal in the third period on a nifty play by rookie Michael Rasmussen, but the opportunistic Golden Knights scored a fluky goal and were able to hold off the Red Wings, who pulled to within one with only three seconds left in the game.
Gustav Nyquist, Michael Rasmussen (power play) and Thomas Vanek scored for the Wings. Jonathan Marchessault (two: power play, even), William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb scored for the Golden Knights.
Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard (15-14-5) made 28 saves. His fellow All-Star, Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre-Fleury (29-15-4), had 36 saves.
The Wings fell to 21-26-7. The Golden Knights improved to 31-21-4.
Up next for the Wings is their annual Fathers and Mentors trip, with back-to-back afternoon games in Buffalo and Chicago Saturday and Sunday, followed by a Tuesday night contest in Nashville.
The Golden Knights return home after their four-game road trip to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
1. Michael Rasmussen: From the moment the Red Wings drafted the 6-foot-6, 221-pound Rasmussen in the first round, ninth overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Wings have always touted his net-front presence and hand-eye coordination, especially for being such a big man. Rasmussen's skill set was on full display against the Golden Knights. He picked up a goal and an assist in his first game back after missing 10 games with a hamstring injury. It was the first multi-point game of his career and it was apparent his recent three-game conditioning stint in Grand Rapids paid off, as the 19-year-old played with confidence and poise. At the end of the game, the Wings rewarded Rasmussen's inspired play by having him on the ice as Detroit frantically tried to tie the game. On Rasmussen's power-play goal, he received a pass from Frans Nielsen in front of the net and with very little time and in a very tight space, he nonchalantly maneuvered the puck to his backhand and fired the puck into a wide-open net. Rasmussen's reach was a factor, which seemed to surprise Fleury. For the game Rasmussen played 14:57, fired seven shots on goal, which was a career high and led the Red Wings. In 42 games, the rookie has seven goals among his 15 points, but perhaps most importantly, he has begun to show growth and confidence in his play when he isn't stationed in front of the net.
Quotable: "I thought Ras was great. I thought it was the best game he's played all year for us. Good for Ken (Holland) and the management group to kind of recognize a good plan to put him, coming off a long layover, have him go down, get that confidence going. I thought he was excellent last night in Grand Rapids and I thought that confidence carried forward to today. He just had the puck more on stick and was way more confident. He's a menace around the net. As I've said here lots, he's probably going to score 20-plus in the league because he's real good around the net. But I also thought he carried the puck and did a lot of other things, so I though he played real well." - Red Wings coach Jeff Blashil
Quotable II: "I felt OK. Obviously going down to G.R. helped me. It's never easy coming back from injury but it felt okay. There's nothing really like game shape. Just getting back into game action. Every night I try to gain a little bit of confidence and kind of get better every night. I think I was handling it OK tonight. It comes with practice. Obviously, I work hard in practice to master moves or get better in that area (net front). It just comes from a lot of practice and it's definitely getting better." -- Rasmussen
2. Gustav Nyquist/Thomas Vanek: Give credit to Nyquist for knowing exactly where the puck was. Justin Abdelkader backhanded the puck from the left circle and Fleury made the save. But Fleury did not realize that he did not have the puck covered. Nyquist, circling around behind the net, saw the puck and swooped in on the left side to poke it into the net at 11:17 of the first period. It was Nyquist's 13th goal of the season, tying him with Tyler Bertuzzi for third on the team. Dylan Larkin leads with 22 and Andreas Athanasiou is second with 17. Nyquist has four goals and 11 assists in his last 16 games. Abdelkader and Larkin picked up the assists. It was Abdelkader's first point since Dec. 31 against the Florida Panthers. Nyquist finished with 24 shifts for 17:05, had three shots, one giveaway and was minus-1. Thomas Vanek has always been an unbelievable offensive player but he was set back earlier in the season when he missed eight games with a knee injury. With the extra attacker late in the game, Vanek scored his 11th goal of the season with 2.7 seconds left. Rasmussen and Larkin had the assists. Vanek had two excellent chances before that but missed the net. In his last eight games, Vanek has four goals and five assists. Vanek finished with 22 shifts for 16:45, had four shots, one giveaway and was plus-1.
Quotable: "I think (Vanek's) skating better. I think he has for a while. I think his competitiveness has been great. I thought him and Ras (Rasmussen) stood out, and Double-A (Andreas Athanasiou), probably those were the three best forwards on the ice. I thought Nyquie (Nyquist) was good, too. But I thought Vanny really competed, really, really competed. I just think overall he's been skating real good here for the last month. I think he's got his legs underneath him. I thought the injury hurt him and it's not easy at his age with his skating sometimes to come back from those injuries and I think he's come back and he's done a real good job. I think he's skating really good and he's competing really hard." -- Blashill
3. Dylan Larkin: It must be nice to be 22 years old. When Larkin went down with a grimace in overtime last Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it did not look good. The Wings said Larkin had a strained oblique and it could be 1-2 weeks for him to return. Larkin missed Saturday's game in Ottawa but he got an assist from the schedule maker as the Wings did not have another game until Thursday against the Golden Knights. Larkin practiced Wednesday and participated in the optional morning skate Thursday but was still unsure after the skate if he would play. Larkin did play and had the second assist on both Nyquist's and Vanek's goals. As the game played out, Larkin led all forwards in ice time with 20:10, had three shots, one hit, was 17-for-30 in face-offs and was even.
Quotable: "Well, the decision process is, if you talk to our medical staff and if they say absolutely not, then he doesn't play. If they say he's 100 percent, then he plays for sure. If they say here's his availability and here's the potential risk - and there's always going to be some risk when guys are coming back, it's usually not black and white. So we had that discussion. I talked with Larks, if he didn't feel real comfortable with it, we weren't going to play him. He went in the morning skate and told me let's see after that skate and he went out in the morning skate and felt real comfortable and felt like he was ready to play. Larks, he was fine. He wasn't as dominant as he's been through lots of the year but he played fine. I didn't think it necessarily … he didn't practice on Tuesday so now that's three days off. So I think that had a bigger effect than anything else. I think when you're missing skates like that, it's hard sometimes." -- Blashill