Little Caesars Arena was rollicking Sunday on New Year's Eve, more than any time this season.
The Detroit Red Wings were hosting the hated Pittsburgh Penguins and the crowd was into it. Fans cheered when the scoreboard showed a young boy dancing in the aisle and booed lustily when the next shot captured Sidney Crosby on the bench.
Two fans in Penguins jerseys were taken out of the building in handcuffs following a flare-up in the lower bowl during the third period.
Jeff Blashill breaks down Red Wings' win over Penguins
There was a lot of energy in the building, and it gave the Red Wings a boost as they beat the Penguins 4-1.
Jimmy Howard was outstanding for the second game in a row, making 37 saves. Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals, both on assists from linemates Henrik Zetterberg and Tyler Bertuzzi. The Red Wings' top four defensemen helped contain the Penguins' star forwards.
"It was nice to see the crowd get into it," Nyquist said. "That just helps us, it's just a positive when the crowd gets loud and gives us energy. They were great tonight."
Said Howard: "When the atmosphere is like that, the way it's been here as of late, it makes it fun to go out there and play and makes it a lot easier because you feed off that energy."
Detroit (15-16-7) has won three in a row at home for the first time since Jan. 14-18 and has defeated Pittsburgh three consecutive times. The Penguins are 3-7-0 in their past 10 and fell to 19-18-3.
"I thought the energy was great," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "This building definitely is loud with the people in the stands and with us giving them some good hockey.
"I thought they came out and had the better of the play early. I thought our battle level didn't match their battle level, but I thought in the second and the third our battle level was really good.
"I thought (Trevor) Daley, (Jonathan) Ericsson, Greener (Mike Green) and DK (Danny DeKeyser) did a really good job against some of the best forwards in the league. Johnny Ericsson, in particular … not many guys can play against (Evgeni) Malkin, because he's so big and powerful and with that skill-set. That's where Johnny just becomes a real big factor. I thought he was excellent."
Red Wings' Gustav Nyquist scores twice, including No. 100
Howard was the first star, though. He has stopped 126-of-133 shots the past four games (.947 save percentage).
"It's hard to win in this league without elite goaltending," Blashill said. "When he gives us that, you forget about lots of mistakes and you just keep playing. When pucks go in, you remember every mistake. I think you have to have elite goaltending to win."
Goals by Nyquist (11:31 of the first) and Dylan Larkin (59 seconds into the second) staked the Red Wings to a 2-0 lead.
Malkin scored on the power play at 8:04 of the second. Howard appeared to make a great glove stop but a video review showed the puck was over the goal line while in the glove.
But Frans Nielsen scored at 15:18 of the second and Nyquist dashed any late comeback hopes by Pittsburgh by scoring his 12th goal – matching his 2016-17 season total – with 3:26 remaining in regulation. It was his 100th career goal.
"That's fun obviously to reach," Nyquist said. "Obviously, fun to win here on New Year's Eve. I thought the crowd was great tonight, so it was a fun win."
The Red Wings are 2-0 on a five-game homestand that continues Wednesday against Ottawa.
"Every point right now is important for us," Nielsen said. "We still got a huge mountain to climb. We got to put a long streak together if we want to get back in it."