Detroit Red Wings celebrate first game at Little Caesars Arena with season-opening win

The Red Wings’ Anthony Mantha, center, celebrates his goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second period on Thursday in Detroit. (AP photo)


AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — The first two goals at Detroit’s new arena came from young standouts the team is trying to build around.

When that wasn’t enough to shake the Minnesota Wild, grizzled veteran Henrik Zetterberg put the Red Wings back ahead to stay.

Zetterberg and Martin Frk scored in the third period to lift Detroit to a 4-2 victory over the Wild on Thursday night in the first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena. Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin scored 23 seconds apart in the second period for the Red Wings, who then had to bounce back after blowing that 2-0 lead early in the third.

Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader, center, and Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, right, battle for position in the second period Thursday in Detroit. (AP photo)

Zetterberg, who turns 37 on Monday, gave the Red Wings a 3-2 lead, collecting the puck in the slot and beating Devan Dubnyk between the legs with a wrist shot.

“Hank only played one exhibition game, but he didn’t look like he missed a beat at all. I thought he was excellent,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been a world-class player a long time. He just plays winning hockey, and he’s a great example.”

Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored 48 seconds apart for Minnesota to tie it early in the third, but then Zetterberg put Detroit back on top with 12:53 remaining.

The Red Wings said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena in April and moved to a new downtown venue they’re sharing with the Detroit Pistons. The Red Wings missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990, and although expectations are low at the moment, they opened with a victory.

“It was a lot of fun out there, from the introductions and all the way to the end,” said Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, who had 37 saves to earn his 200th career win. “This is an unbelievable facility.”