Pens can’t capitalize on fast start
DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings are a team in transition, and that was evident Tuesday night.
Veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall scored a goal for his 400th point, while rookie defenseman Joe Hicketts, playing his second NHL game, grabbed a pair of assists for his first career points as the Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.
“It’s neat for sure,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s good. I thought a number of our young players played well.”
Luke Glendening scored twice and Darren Helm matched his career high with three points. Helm had a goal and two assists, and Frans Nielsen and Niklas Kronwall also scored for Detroit. Jimmy Howard made 22 saves to help the Red Wings win in regulation for the first time since a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 24.
Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang scored for the Penguins. Matt Murray stopped 21 shots.
It took Pittsburgh 38 seconds to gain the lead. Crosby took Jake Guentzel’s cross-ice feed and snapped a shot before Howard could get across.
“(Dylan) Larkin, Helm and (Anthony) Mantha was the line that went up against Crosby,” Blashill said. “They didn’t start great. The turnover early and then they go down and score. But that’s the learning process that you have to do and after that they were really good, so that’s a real positive.”
The Red Wings pulled even 17:43 into opening period. Helm found Kronwall pinching down from the point, and Kronwall whipped a quick shot past Murray. It was his 80th goal, tying him for fourth among Wings defensemen with Hall of Famer Marcel Pronovost.
“I try to keep them,” Kronwall said of his milestone pucks. “I’m not sure exactly where I have them. I don’t have that many, let’s be honest. I think they’re around somewhere.”
Detroit, mired in a 1-12-1 stretch, grabbed the lead on the power play at 14:28 of the second period. Martin Frk faked a shot, then zipped the puck across the ice to Nielsen, whose high shot eluded the sprawling Murray.
Just 41 seconds later, Detroit made it 3-1 when Glendening deflected Nick Jensen’s point shot.
“We let them have the momentum with those two quick goals in the second period,” Crosby said. “You can’t let that happen. Once we fell behind there, we were chasing the game.”
The Red Wings added another goal 6:21 into the third period when Helm converted Larkin’s feed for his 10th.
Letang’s point shot found its way through traffic and behind Howard with 3:16 left in regulation.
Glendening finished the scoring into an empty net with 1:28 to play.
“I don’t think we were struggling tonight, we just weren’t playing with the kind of urgency it takes to win games,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “This is a hard league, and it is hard to win a game no matter who you are playing.
“If you aren’t willing to make the commitment it takes to give that kind of effort, you are going to get beat.”
NOTES: Red Wings GM Ken Holland would not confirm reports that he and Blashill would return next season, saying only that the question would be answered by the end of the season. … The Penguins are the first visiting team to lose twice at Little Caesars Arena. They also fell 4-1 in Detroit on Dec. 31. . Glendening recorded his second career multi-goal game and first since Jan. 27, 2015 at Florida, along with his fifth career multi-point game.
Penguins: At New Jersey on Thursday night.
Red Wings: At Buffalo on Thursday night.
On the ice
Next game: Thursday, Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.