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Recap: First Game, First Win: Red Wings 4-2 Wild

Get ready for a lot of firsts in the new Red Wings home.

Minnesota Wild v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Alright folks, time to get the 2017-18 season underway, and what other way to get it started in Detroit’s shiny new arena than with the NBCSN crew! Aw, man, this new arena is cool! It’s got... bathrooms! Without troughs! And Little Caesar’s pizza! And hockey! The three things I love the most! This is going to be A-mazing!

...

I miss the Joe so much already.

....

Okay, okay. I’m okay. Zetterberg came out and said the Pizzarena is the best hockey arena in the world. There were many commemorations to the Joe and the teams that played there, Nick Lidstrom came out with Mickey Redmond for the ceremonial puck drop, and the first notes of the National Anthem sounded like an old hockey barn organ, so the Red Wings did everything they could to do right by the fans.

With the puck drop, it’s time to make some new memories for an all-new arena. You always remember your first, and there’s going to be a lot of firsts tonight, folks. Buckle up.

1st Period

The first penalty in Little Caesar’s Arena history took place 47 seconds into the game, a Too-Many-Men penalty served by Anthony Mantha. We will all remember it fondly. During the ensuing penalty kill, Doc Emrick mentioned that the Wings are missing Kronwall and the Wild are missing Parise, so you know, pretty equal losses for each team. The Wings couldn’t clear the crease, but Minnesota failed to convert, despite some dangerous looks from Koivu and Neiderreiter.

Pierre used a term prior to the game: “Smash Mouth.” I let it go, but dammit if Doc wasn’t going to let that one just walk away from him.

The Wild looked like they snagged one with just a few seconds remaining on the powerplay that to Marcus Foligno crashing the net, but video review upheld the no-goal call on the ice. Good thing, because I couldn’t deal with Foligno scoring the first goal in our new digs. During the review, Big Buddy Bruce Boudreau even tried to have the call reversed. This marks the first time a call has attempted and failed to be reversed at Little Caesars Arena. This is also a moment we will all remember forever.

Five minutes in, Larkin registered the Wings’ first shot on goal off Frk driving the net and Mantha making a slick pass. Photo album stuff, there. Nyquist got an amazing breakaway shortly after, but Dubnyk sprawled like the dead raccoon I passed on the road today and made a great stop with his arm. (Don’t worry, Nyquist will bury the exact same shot on March 4th when the Wings visit St. Paul, long after they’re out of playoff contention.)

The Wings got their first powerplay opportunity nine minutes in when Koivu confused Zetterberg’s stick for a puck and slapped it out of his hands, but it wasn’t much of a powerplay. The best part was when we came back after the commercial break and Blashill said Larkin and Mantha are going to get lots of minutes this season.

Of all people, OF ALL PEOPLE to score the first goal at Little Caesar’s Arena at Little Caesar’s Arena, it’s Ryan “Could have, but is definitely not a Red Wing” Suter. Except, what’s this? Like the hand of God reaching out, Mikael Granlund bumped Howard in the crease just as the puck was reaching the net, and the review crew calls it no goal. We will always remember the first goal that was actually overturned at Little Caesar’s Arena.

The period closed out without any more unforgettable moments. Well, besides being the first-first period. It’s worth noting that the top two lines played pretty well, as did Jensen and Ouellett.

Period Summary

Score: 0-0

Shots: 14-13 Wild

Penalties: Mantha (Too-Many-Men, 0:47), Koivu (Slashing, 8:59)

2nd Period

The second started with the Nielsen-Helm-Abdelkader line getting caved by Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, and friends, leading to a Mike Green hooking penalty. Trevor Daley then decided thing weren’t hard enough, so he flipped the puck out of play to earn the over-the-glass penalty to give Minnesota a long 5-on-3. Somehow, the Wings miraculously killed it off (marking the first 5-on-3 in The Bread Bowl!) but holy moly, the Wild hammered the Wings down low.

The period hum-drummed onward with way fewer firsts than anyone would have liked. Throughout the middle of the period the two teams looked evenly matched, with the ice tilting in Minnesota’s favor. David Booth then made the ice lean harder by earning himself a tripping demerit.

For the first time in the night the Red Wings’ PK looked like it was more than a rickety 40-year old tractor held together by bailing twine. Helm and Larkin got a great short-handed opportunity, then Glendening got his turn, drawing a cross-check from Matt Dumba. Also for the first time in the night, nay, in the history of the arena, the Red Wings’ power play looks dangerous. 40 seconds into the powerplay, Daniel Winnik got called for slashing Zetterberg. The Wild pushed the Wings out of the zone, but Zetterberg sailed it back on into the zone, Frk did his best impression of Ovechkin at the top of the circle, and ANTHONY MANTHA SCORES THE FIRST GOAL IN LCA OFF THE REBOUND! IT’S A REAL FIRST!!! AHHHH REAL FIRSTS! HONEY, WE’RE GOIN’ TO THE STANLEY CUP!

The Red Wings set up again in the zone, Mike Green slammed the puck from the top of the circle AND LARKIN REDIRECTS IT INTO THE NET! 2-0 RED WINGS! FREE PIZZAS FOR EVERYONE!!!!

What, no free pizzas? I guess that promotional event never made it off the drawing board. A shame, truly.

The Wings were in some ways lucky to skate off the second period with a two goal lead given Minnesota’s superior puck possession, but the Wild got sloppy in a small window and the Wings made them pay for it.

Period Summary

Score: 2-0 Red Wings

Goals: Mantha (PPG from Frk and Green), Larkin (PPG from Green and Mantha)

Shots: 26-23 Wild

Penalties: Green (Hooking, 1:50), Daley (Delay of Game, 2:13), Booth (Tripping, 11:29), Dumba (Cross Checking, 13:31), Daniel Winnik (Slashing, 14:16)

3rd Period

The Wild came out swinging hard while Doc and Pierre came out wondering hard about how many days of school Mantha missed while playing in juniors. Meanwhile, the Wild beat the Wings down low (again), Dumba collected the puck and sent it in front of the net ever so nicely for Joel Eriksson-Ek (taken five picks after Larkin in the 2014 draft) and he releases it past Howard to make it 2-1 Wings.

48 seconds afterwards, the Wings suffered another lost puck along the boards via a surprising move by... Chris Stewart? Yeah, Chris Stewart, who was allowed to drag the puck in front of the net and toss it past Howard. Tie game at 2 apiece. First tie game ever at LCA! Wait, that’s not exciting.

Guess who stepped up for the Wings with their backs against the wall. Guess. I dare you. Not David Booth, but I appreciate the effort. Hint: it rhymes with Rentik Centerberg. Yeah, it’s Hank, and he collected a loose puck in the slot and lifted it (very unlike Nyquist) over Dubnyk to give the Wings the lead again, 3-2 for THE FIRST HANK GOAL AT THE PIZZA PALACE!! FIRSTS FOR EVERYBODY!

One puck lunking later, served up by Mantha, and the puck gets dished to Marty Frk and he SLAMS IT IN LIKE A MAN WHO’S LIQUIDATED HIS ASSETS’S OVECHKIN, AND I HATE THIS PUN BUT I’LL SAY IT ANYWAY: FRK YEAH!!!! 4-2 WINGS! FIRST FRK GOAL!!

Helm laid an incidental hip check on Charlie Coyle, and Coyle gets his shoves in afterwards like you would expect. The play turned dangerous when Helm ended up getting squished between Jared Spurgeon and a Charlie Coyle cross-check that could have ended up with Helm’s jaw landing on the boards in front of the Minnesota bench. A scrum ensued, but the only penalty to come out of it was a Cross Checking infraction to Coyle.

Nothing came out of the power play, and the feeling coming from both the Wings and the Wild was that the energy for the night was spent.

Dubnyk left for the extra attacker with two minutes remaining. With the extra hand the Wild kept the Red Wings hemmed in their own zone . Nino Neiderreiter got the Wild’s best chance with a shot from the slot, but Howard flashed the leather on it for a great save and seal the game away.

*Inhales Deeply*

FIRST WIN EVER AT LITTLE CAESAR’S ARENA!!!! YAHOOOOO!!!!!

(I am never using this many capital letters in an article ever again.)

Period Summary

Score: 4-2 Red Wings

Goals: Eriksson Ek (Stewart and Foligno, 2:00), Stewart (Ennis and Quincey, 2:48) Zetterberg (Green and Tatar, 7:07), Frk (Mantha, 10:39)

Shots: 39-31 Wild

Penalties: Coyle (Cross Checking, 11:27) Staal (Hooking, 19:44)

Final Thoughts

The Red Wings made a proud showing for the first game in their new building against a habitually underrated Minnesota squad. The Wings could have found themselves in a really bad spot with a two goal deficit after the first, but their play picked up as the game went on. The Zetterberg and Larkin lines were the best groups of forward in the game, despite Staal and Koivu’s lines also showing their teeth. Let’s all enjoy this one, this first win and get prepared for the Southwest road trip (featuring special guests, the Ottawa Senators.) What a first game at the LCA. Enjoy the moment, everyone! Mantha is your player of the game! Bring on the Sens!

LETS GO RED WINGS!

[NHL box score and stats here]