Detroit Red Wings fans knew it was going to be another difficult season this year, but they did not expect it to be this disheartening.
They currently sit at the bottom of the NHL standings and are destined for a top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, unless they have horrible luck during the lottery drawing.
However, with former captain and extremely well-respected executive Steve Yzerman leading the way, fans believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The other building block that Detroit should be excited about is Dylan Larkin.
The alternate captain scored twice in the Wings’ 4-3 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres as Detroit snapped a nine-game losing streak. Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou each scored in shootout while Jonathan Bernier stopped both attempts from the Sabres.
Evan Rodrigues scored in the final minute to force overtime but the Sabres lost for the second straight game.
Larkin opened the scoring with a sharp-angled shot at 4:23 of the first period and helped Detroit snap a six-plus period goalless drought. Luke Glendening was planted in front of the Sabres goaltender and Larkin took advantage of the distraction. Trevor Daley and Robby Fabbri assisted on the play.
Then, in the final seconds of the first period, Larkin’s best attributes shined on both sides of the ice. He relentlessly chased Sam Reinhart in the defensive zone and even when he was beat, twice, Larkin never gave up on the play.
Larkin started the shift with 1:24 remaining in the period, according to the NHL shift chart. After his effort on both ends of the ice, he should have been exhausted.
But with seven seconds remaining in the frame, Larkin refused to pass up on an offensive opportunity and raced to the other end of the ice alongside Fabbri.
No. 71 showed great poise and didn’t rush his deke as he lifted a backhander past Jonas Johansson with less than a second remaining in the period.
There have not been many great things for the Red Wings to admire this season, but if Larkin continues to develop and play at an elite level, the return to relevancy for Detroit is not as far off as it might seem.
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.