The Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard, Martin Frk, Frans Nielsen and coach Jeff Blashill react after the team’s 5-1 win over the Bruins in the first hockey game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sept. 23, 2017.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Red Wings needed a period to get used to their new arena. Then they made themselves at home.
The Wings scored four times in the second period Saturday as they inaugurated Little Caesars Arena with a 5-1 exhibition victory against the Boston Bruins. Players admitted to nerves and occasional distractions, but also showed resolve.
“It was pretty exciting to finally be out there playing a game,” Jimmy Howard said after making 19 saves. “It’s been a long wait here the last year. It was fun to get the fans into it and see the guys get rolling.”
Frans Nielsen and Martin Frk both had two goals and an assist. Darren Helm also scored and Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha each had two assists as the Wings recovered from a slow start to rout a Boston roster heavy on minor leaguers.
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“We started getting pucks deep and getting pucks on net, and forechecking,” Nielsen said. “It was a good step for our team this preseason, the way we played tonight. It was good to see we can play that way.”
Nielsen said there were butterflies before the game because it was the Wings’ first game at their new $863 million arena. The Wings had only had a taste of the main ice sheet before Saturday’s game, limited to a short practice Friday and then the morning skate. Coach Jeff Blashill found himself looking around for the penalty clock. Howard said a couple of times he found himself watching the game on the giant Jumbotron and had to “remind myself that there is actually a game going on in front of me.”
There wasn’t much atmosphere at the start – there were pockets of empty seats in every section – but the place got loud and lively once the Wings found their scoring touch.
“We talked about being relentless with our pressure and if we are going to make a mistake, make it out of pressure,” Blashill said. “We did a real good job of that. Obviously we…