Dylan Larkin scores twice in his return to lead the Red Wings past New York

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the New York Islanders 6-3 in a must-win

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The Detroit Red Wings needed to win against the New York Islanders, and they delivered in a big way. Thursday night's game began with some excitement as Detroit enjoyed the return of their captain, Dylan Larkin.

The Detroit Red Wings struggled mightily without Dylan Larkin over the past couple of weeks, and his return once again helped balance head coach Derek Lalonde's lineup. Larkin also buried Detroit's third and sixth goal of the game and his 27th of the year late in the second period. Simon Edvinsson made a massive play at the blue line to keep the puck in with his long reach that won't go unnoticed.

Larkin returned to center the red-hot Lucas Raymond along with David Perron. That allowed a second line of Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, and J.T. Compher. And, in turn, Lalonde was able to stick with his energy line of Andrew Copp, Christian Fischer, and Michael Rasmussen. That third line scored the first two Detroit goals on Thursday and three overall.

Fischer broke in on a breakaway for the first Detroit goal of the game, and Andrew Copp, of all people, buried his 11th of the season after a good Red Wing cycle and zone time. That hard-working shift ended with Ben Chiarot winning a puck battle on the half-wall and finding Fischer in front of the net, who took a shot that saw a rebound land right onto the stick of Copp and deposited the loose change into the empty goal. Fischer ended the night with a goal and two assists. Copp recorded a pair of goals. Rasmussen and DeBrincat each recorded two helpers.

The Detroit Red Wings beat the New York Islanders 6-3 in a must-win game.

Final Score. 6. 72. Final. 3. 106

Although there was an Islanders goal mixed in that James Reimer would love to forget, the floodgates opened for the Detroit Red Wings in the third period—first, the goal Reimer would love to have back. Mike Reilly sent a weak shot toward Reimer with no one in front and found its way through Reimer to tie the game at one. It was easily the worst goal allowed by any Red Wings' netminder this season. Later, the Red Wings received their second goal of the game from Copp, and Patrick Kane buried a beautiful feed from DeBrincat in a two-on-one rush.

Patrick Roy's Islanders wouldn't go away quietly. Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the power play; he scored on a rebound from Ryan Pulock's point blast. I recently talked to a younger fan at the Red Wings' game this past Tuesday about some of the defensemen of my generation with the harder shots. Al MacInnis is very popular, but the gentleman wasn't aware of Al Iafrate. I urged them to Google for some of his highlights. I recall MacInnis and Iafrate going head-to-head in the hardest shot competition during the late 80s and early 90s. Well, the point of that little story is that Pulock for New York can really shoot; it's bombs away from the point when he tees it up.

Larkin sealed things at 6-3 with an empty net marker, the second of the night and 28th of the season. Edvinsson once again looked the part. He and Jeff Petry played fairly well together. That pairing played seconds shy of 20 minutes on Thursday and finished with an even rating. Reimer made 37 saves, and despite allowing one horrible goal, one questionable goal, and another he had no chance on, he made 34 saves, a few of which were fairly significant. It will be interesting to see if Lalonde sticks with Reimer after back-to-back wins or goes back to Alex Lyon on Saturday afternoon in Nashville.

The Detroit Red Wings currently control the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, a mere three points ahead of the Washington Capitals, who they play twice during the final stretch of the season. Thursday night's victory gave Detroit a five-point lead over the Islanders. It's going to be a wild yet fun ride to the end, folks. Enjoy it. Playing meaningful games in March and April is progress.