The Detroit Red Wings will be looking to bounce back when they open a four-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Kings on Saturday night.
The Red Wings, who are 3-1-1 in their past five matches but lost 8-2 on Thursday, will be taking a new offensive piece with them to the West Coast — Jonatan Berggren.
The rookie made his NHL debut in Detroit a good one on Thursday, setting up his former American Hockey League teammate Joe Veleno late in the first period to tie the home match with the New York Rangers at 1-1.
Berggren, a second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2018 draft, received a feed on a break from former Grand Rapids Griffins linemate Veleno along the right half-boards. The Uppsala, Sweden, native then returned the pass to Veleno, trailing in the high slot, for his second goal of the season at 18:46.
It was a give-and-go that Veleno knew was coming.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” Veleno said of the primary assist from Berggren. “I had the opportunity to play with him a bit in (Grand Rapids) last year when I got sent back down. I just know that he’s got incredible vision. He has dynamic ability and creativity. I built a little bit of chemistry with him last year.”
Skating on a line that also featured Austin Czarnik, Berggren logged 14:18 of ice time on 15 shifts. The 22-year-old right winger had three hits, a blocked shot and was plus-1.
Lucas Raymond hit the net for the sixth time in the past seven games for Detroit, but the Rangers tallied four times over 2:57 in the third — six goals overall in the period — to turn a 2-2 tie into an eventual 8-2 rout.
“This game proves if we’re not exact, not at the top of our game, we’re just not good enough,” said coach Derek Lalonde, whose club’s eight goals allowed matched its season high set in Buffalo on Oct. 31.
The Kings have been on the winning side more often than not since the start of the 2014-15 season against Detroit. They own an 11-4-0 slate, which includes an active streak of five consecutive victories.
Nine of the 11 wins are in regulation with the other two decided in overtime. In the most recent matchup in Detroit on Oct. 17, the Kings prevailed 5-4 when Phillip Danault scored 1:12 into the extra session. The other OT match occurred when Alex Iafallo tallied just 23 seconds into the extra frame three years ago in Los Angeles.
The Kings have played some of their best hockey over the past seven games (5-1-1) and continued that run at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
After Philipp Kurashev slid and blocked Danault’s close attempt on a two-on-two rush in overtime, Danault got the puck and whipped it over to Kevin Fiala, who buried his fourth goal of the season with 1.4 seconds left in the overtime session for a 2-1 win.
“This is more Kings hockey right now,” said Danault. “We’re playing good defensively, which creates frustration with the other team, and we create some chances on our side, so that’s Kings hockey right now.”
Los Angeles forward Trevor Moore assisted on the Danault game-winning marker for his 100th NHL point (37 goals, 63 assists over 220 games). The Thousand Oaks product is the seventh California-born player in history to achieve 100.
–Field Level Media