DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist just made the Detroit Red Wings decision on whether he stays or goes back to Grand Rapids just that much tougher Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Nyquist scored a pair of goals, the last one being the game winner, in his first game with the Wings this season as Detroit snapped a seven-game winless streak with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We’ll see, we’ll see what happens here,” Nyquist said when asked if he made a good enough argument to stay in Detroit. “Obviously this is where I want to play and I want to be a part of this team and hopefully we’ll be able to work that out.
The win also snapped Detroit’s eight-game winless streak on home ice.
After the morning skate Wings coach Mike Babcock said it would be good for Nyquist to put the pressure on the coach and manager to not send him back to Grand Rapids.
“It was great,” Babcock said. “He’s obviously got skill, knows how to play and he can be an important guy going ahead. That’s what I would have done if I was him if I could. We’ll see what happens. It’s called money.”
If Nyquist, who was recalled from Grand Rapids to take the roster spot vacated by Danny DeKeyser after he was placed on long-term injured reserve, plays one more game he can’t be sent back to the Griffins without clearing waivers.
“He’s probably been waiting for this day ever since training camp and it’s nice to see him take advantage right away,” Henrik Zetterberg said.
Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall also scored for Detroit.
“It was great for him and great for us to have him here,” said goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who made 24 saves. “He was a big factor. With his speed he’s going to create a lot of scoring chances and he back checks as well. He’s huge for us and he showed that.”
Carolina got two goals from Andrej Sekera and another by Brett Bellemore. Justin Peters stopped 43 shots.
After the Wings killed off a 5-on-3 power play at the end of the second period, they got one of their own seven minutes into the third with the game tied 2-2.
Detroit got a lucky bounce as the puck went off the skate of Jordan Staal and just trickled over the goal line with 15 seconds left in the 5-on-3. Kronwall got credit for the goal.
“Let’s not worry about nothing, let’s play,” Babcock said. “Worrying’s for some other kind of profession. We’re here to play this game and play hard and I thought our guys did that tonight.”
Nyquist then made it a two-goal lead, scoring on a breakaway with four minutes left to play.
“Z made a great play off the wall, he knew I was coming in from the middle and just chipped it out for me to skate into and tried to make a move on the goalie and fortunately it went in,” Nyquist said.
However, with 16 seconds left to play Sekera netted his second goal of the game, this one shorthanded.
“We needed to win,” Babcock said. “I thought our team played well. We had lots of opportunities. We made it closer than we needed to, for sure. I thought we really carried territorial play. Our specialty teams were outstanding.”
It didn’t take long for Nyquist to make his presence felt.
On a delayed penalty call to the Hurricanes, Jonathan Ericsson got a shot through and the rebound off Peters’ pads went right to an unguarded Nyquist and he went five-hole to beat the Canes’ netminder.
Helm made it 2-0 Wings early in the second period, picking up a loose puck that was stripped away from Justin Abdelkader.
Abdelkader drove hard to the net before losing the puck, but Helm was there to scoop up and beat Peters through a number of players.
Just over three minutes later, Bellemore and Radek Dvorak worked a pretty give and go to cut the Hurricanes’ deficit in half.
Carolina tied things up seven minutes later, when Sekera skated over the blue line, made Todd Bertuzzi swing and miss with his stick and then split the Wings’ defense to beat Gustavsson.
The Hurricanes had a golden opportunity to take a lead into the locker room, with 1:36 of a 5-on-3 power play, but were unable as the Wings were able to lag the puck for the first 30 seconds and then couple a pair of clears and a save from Gustavsson.