Dylan Larkin believes the Detroit Red Wings are being underestimated. They'll head into their home opener with some evidence that their three-year postseason drought might not reflect the talent of this year's team.
The Red Wings pulled a 5-3 surprise victory in Nashville on Saturday night in their season opener. Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha, the Wings' top line, produced all but one of those goals. They'll host the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
"I think we can shock people," said Larkin, who had a goal and an assist. "We have guys that are warriors, guys that compete hard every night and for our line, we were clicking tonight."
Bertuzzi led the way with two goals and two assists. His empty-net tally clinched the win. Luke Glendening scored the go-ahead goal at 9:24 of the third period, and the Wings protected the slim advantage.
"What we built off the end of last season was being mature late in games, one-goal leads," Larkin said. "We didn't back down, we didn't fold. With 10 minutes to go, we've got a one-goal lead, and we locked it up, and they didn't really get a whole lot (of chances)."
One of the Wings' top forwards, Andreas Athanasiou, missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury but might play in the home opener.
The Stars are trying to get through the early portion of their schedule without some key components. They are playing the middle game in a stretch of three road contests in four nights.
They've lost two one-goal games thus far, including a 3-2 heartbreaker to defending champion St. Louis on Saturday. The Blues scored two third-period goals to pull out the victory.
Dallas right wing Blake Comeau suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday's 2-1 season-opening loss to Boston and will miss multiple weeks. Center Jason Dickinson is sidelined due to an upper-body injury, while defenseman Roman Polak has a small fracture in his sternum.
"It's life in the NHL, next man up," Stars coach Jim Montgomery told NHL.com. "We went through it all last year, so we're a resilient group and a deep organization, and we're going to be OK. We lost two of our top four penalty killers, so that's going to factor into who gets called up."
Rhett Gardner and Nick Caamano were elevated from the American Hockey League's Texas Stars and made their NHL debuts on Saturday.
"Caamano and Gardner have shown the ability to identify a role," Montgomery told NHL.com. "If I look at Gardner, he's winning faceoffs, he's on top of pucks, he's getting back for pucks, he's getting back low and a heavy body down low in the offensive zone. So if you're looking for a fourth line typical role that's going to help you, I think he's someone I can match up.
"And Caamano is playing with great pace, he's making great wall plays and exits in the D-zone, and he's finishing a lot of checks."
The teams split the two-game season series a year ago. The Wings notched a 4-2 victory at home, while the Stars rolled to a 5-1 win in their arena.
--Field Level Media