DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings surely liked what they saw of their new top line Friday night.
Johan Franzen had two goals and two assists, Gustav Nyquist a goal and three assists and David Legwand a goal and two assists in the Red Wings’ 7-4 win over the New Jersey Devils.
With four of the team’s top centres heading into the season out with injuries, Detroit traded for the veteran Legwand – a Detroit-area native – in a deal with Nashville at Wednesday’s trading deadline. The Red Wings wanted Legwand to be their No. 1 centre.
Franzen is the right wing and Nyquist is on left wing.
“Obviously two great players, world-class players, and it’s an honour to play with them, and we had the puck tonight,” Legwand said. “We were moving it and I think, obviously, when you can move and skate it’s going to create some chances and opportunities.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock certainly liked the line.
“Legwand’s line was outstanding with Gus (Nyquist) and Mule (Franzen), really set the tone for us,” Babcock said. “We need that against (Travis) Zajac’s line with (Jaromir) Jagr on him. I thought those guys did a great job for us. We were calm on the bench, did a real good job.”
Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Drew Miller also scored for Detroit. Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves.
Adam Henrique had two goals, Patrik Elias and Jagr also scored for New Jersey. Cory Schneider, who gave up seven goals for the first time in his career, stopped 25 shots.
“The game spoke for itself,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “Disappointing. We didn’t have many people that were very good tonight.”
The Red Wings led 5-3 after a wild second period in which seven goals were scored.
Franzen gave Detroit a 2-0 lead when Nyquist’s shot went in off Franzen’s glove. But New Jersey scored three goals in 2:21 to take the lead.
Elias’ short-handed goal put the Devils on the board, Jagr got his 20th goal of the season and 701st of his career, and Henrique got his 20th.
Then the Red Wings got three goals in 3:14.
Franzen scored his second of the game and 15th of the season on the power play. Nyquist picked up his 16th goal and Quincey gave Detroit a two-goal lead with his fourth goal.
Legwand got his first goal as a Red Wing and Miller also scored in the third period
Henrique got his second goal of the night with 1:18 left.
Smith opened the scoring in the first period. He came straight off the bench and sent a one-time slap shot from just inside the blue line past Schneider. It was Smith’s third goal.
NOTE: The seven goals were a season high for Detroit. . Franzen has five goals and six assist for 11 points in the five games since the Olympic break. . New Jersey had its penalty reduced by the NHL for trying to circumvent the league’s salary cap on the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk, who has since retired and returned to Russia. The Devils originally lost their first-round pick in this year’s draft and were fined $3 million. New Jersey will pick 30th in the first round of the 2014 draft and the fine was reduced. … Detroit C Darren Helm expects to miss a week due to vision problems after being hit in the head on Feb. 27 at Ottawa. … Legwand played for New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer in junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, who are based in suburban Detroit.