The Detroit Red Wings continued their dominance of the Nashville Predators in Music City, improving to a perfect 7-0 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville their past seven meetings there with a 3-1 victory on Saturday night.
Among the game's standout highlights was forward Luke Witkowski scoring not only his first goal in a Red Wings uniform, but his first in the NHL!
With Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto caught up ice, Witkowski took a feed from Anthony Mantha and broke in alone on goaltender Jusse Saros and beat him clean with a backhander.
Check out the video below:
Following the Red Wings victory, Witkowski posed for a photo with the puck he scored the milestone marker with. He kept it cool afterwards as if he'd done it a hundred times before, though.
“Honestly I kind of blacked out a little bit,” he said of the rare breakaway. “I just got the puck on my backhand and shot it. I got it past his blocker. It was crazy. It was cool, though.”
Ironically, Mantha assisted on the goal – nearly a year after he fought Witkowski while he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mantha suffered a broken finger, ending his season. He had a sense of humor about it in his post-game interview:
Anthony Mantha on why he was so happy to see Luke Witkowski score: "It's only because the other picture we have together is him beating me last year. I've signed a couple of those pictures and it's not as fun as the one coming up."
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 18, 2018
Gus Nyquist and Darren Helm (empty net) also scored for the Red Wings, who got 30 saves from goaltender Petr Mrazek. He improved to 6-0 against the Predators in his own right with the victory. Last season, he beat them at Joe Louis Arena and with a 42 save shutout at Bridgestone Arena.
Head coach Jeff Blashill summed up the victory for his team as one of confidence in one's surroundings.
“I think there are certain atmospheres and buildings and maybe teams where guys — when they've had success — might feel a little more confident,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Certainly (Mrazek) was great in here last year and he was great in here again tonight. So this does seem to be a building he's excited about.”
The Red Wings will kick off a four-game home stand at Little Caesars Arena beginning Sunday with a matchup against former coach Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs.