LAS VEGAS - The Red Wings knew that Friday night's game would be a challenge and not just because they were playing the second game of a back-to-back.
The Wings also knew that the 3-0 Vegas Golden Knights are coached by former Wings forward Gerard Gallant, who made the Florida Panthers into a contender.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg sparked the tired Red Wings with a four-point effort as Detroit handed the Golden Knights their first defeat, 6-3.
The game featured a lot of interesting elements, including Vegas introducing its new mascot, a Gila monster named Chance, a drum line and the first NHL fight for Tomas Tatar and Vegas' Erik Haula.
The Wings improved to 4-1 and 3-1 on this road trip.
1. Henrik Zetterberg: Detroit's captain may not be the same player he was when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in the Stanley Cup Final in 2008, but his intelligence and will have remained at the highest level. It was Zetterberg who carried the puck into the Golden Knights' zone on a 2-on-1 with Gustav Nyquist and held the puck until the last second before dishing it to Nyquist, who had the open net on the left side at 1:38 of the first. In the second, Zetterberg got a breakaway and beat Marc-Andre Fleury at 14:46 for a short-lived 2-1 lead. But Zetterberg was far from done. With his team trailing, Zetterberg found Anthony Mantha in front of the net and Mantha tied the game at 3. As Frans Nielsen got out of the penalty box, Zetterberg joined him for a 2-on-1 and worked a give and go, helping Nielsen get his second goal of the season.
Quotable: "You guys saw it tonight. He's a great player. He's been a great player in this league for a long time. When I say great player, to me the biggest thing is he's just a great winner. You can't say enough things about guys that are winning hockey players. He's got to be one of the better ones of his generation." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "Wow. Coach made a change, he put Anthony there. I think guys played really, really well. Henrik is one of the best playmakers in the game. Just watching him making these plays is unbelievable and they did very well tonight." - Tatar
2. Gustav Nyquist: It had been a quiet start to the season for Gustav Nyquist, held without a point in the team's first four games. But that ended quickly in the fifth game, thanks to Zetterberg. Nyquist also got a helper on Mantha's game-tying goal at 4:42 of the third. Nyquist went with Mantha on a rush into the offensive zone and was there at the right side of the net to knock the rebound in after Fleury stopped Mantha at 10:49 of the third, giving the Wings a 5-3 lead.
Quotable: "That was nice, obviously, to get one finally, and felt good in preseason but haven't been able to put one in here at the start, so that felt good for sure. But the most important thing is we get the win here on a back-to-back. That's big for our club. Three out of four games we've won on the road. We still got lots to learn and get better at, but good start for our team." - Nyquist
3. Anthony Mantha: When the Wings were struggling late in the first and into the second period, looking much like a team that had played the night before, it was Mantha who provided a spark. Blashill moved Mantha up to the top line with Zetterberg and Nyquist. Those three combined for seven points (two goals, five assists) as the Wings regained the lead.
Quotable: "We played together before Gus had that suspension last year. We had a good stretch of almost 10 games I think. We know that we can play good together. Mo is a strong, big guy with a big reach. And me and Gus, we've played together for many years." - Zetterberg
Quotable II: "It worked out good. I think Coach just wanted to switch things up for a lot of guys and a lot of different lines and today seemed to be working so that was good." - Nyquist