Red Wings celebrate return of Dylan Larkin, take on Predators

Dylan Larkin gave the Detroit Red Wings a huge boost their last time out, and he and the team will need to be at their best on Saturday when they visit Nashville to take on the streaking Predators.Larkin returned from an eight-game absence and scored two goals in a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday. The team captain had been sidelined by a lower-body injury.”He means everything to this team,” said forward Christian Fischer, who had a goal and two assists. “The season he’s had up until that injury was just remarkable. He’s a true No. 1 center, which is really hard to find. He drives the play. You see every guy competing a little bit harder, just having the presence of Larks back there.”Larkin’s presence in the lineup had a trickle-down effort on the other forward lines. Detroit (36-28-6, 78 points) went 2-6-0 without him.”Just having everyone slotted correctly, it’s unbelievable the difference,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Shame on our group and our coaching staff for not getting more out of the group with Dylan out, but it’s unbelievable the difference with everyone slotted where they should be. Quality win, great team win, just a huge positive and we needed it. We took care of business at home here, three straight wins (at home) and it’s even more important with the road trip ahead of us.”Their matchup with Nashville begins a five-game journey for the Red Wings, who are battling for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.”We’ve got a special group and we showed it (Thursday),” Larkin said. “I knew we would come out of this (slump) and turn it around.”The Red Wings will now be tasked with trying to end Nashville’s franchise record 16-game point streak. The Predators haven’t lost a game in regulation since Feb. 15.The Predators (41-25-4, 88 points) have won their past four games in regulation, including a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Kevin Lankinen kept the Panthers off the scoreboard by making 33 saves.