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Lalonde: Raymond driving Red Wings in Larkin's absence

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde couldn't be more relieved to see Lucas Raymond stepping up with Dylan Larkin sidelined.

"He's been excellent of late. Thank God," the bench boss said after the forward's two-goal performance during Tuesday's emotional 4-3 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"At this time last year, (Raymond) was tiring," Lalonde added. "He was not very good. We were worried how much we could play him down the stretch. ... With Dylan being out, he's literally driven us to stay in this battle."

Larkin has missed the last eight games with a lower-body injury, and though Detroit owns a paltry 2-6-0 record in the captain's absence, Raymond has been a bright spot. The 21-year-old leads the Red Wings with seven goals and eight points, all of which have come in his last five outings.

Raymond is just the third player in franchise history to record a five-game goal streak before turning 22, joining Steve Yzerman and Norm Ullman, per Bally Sports Detroit.

The Red Wings have stabilized following a seven-game losing streak, winning two out of their last three games.

Tuesday's victory didn't come easy, though. Lalonde admitted he was "flabbergasted" by his team's abysmal first period in which the Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead while outshooting Detroit 20-5.

"We talked it through in the first (intermission), how much adversity and bounce back this group has shown this year. ... And they didn't quit, obviously," he said. "Huge credit to the guys."

It was Raymond who fueled the turnaround. He got the Red Wings on the board in the second period and forced overtime in the dying seconds of regulation to set the table for Patrick Kane's winner in the extra frame.

The Red Wings have reclaimed the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and now have a 24.7% chance of making the playoffs, per MoneyPuck. The Washington Capitals are in hot pursuit, though, sitting one point behind Detroit with two games in hand.

Lalonde is hoping Tuesday's victory can serve as a turning point for the rest of the season.

"So many emotional narratives this time of year," he said. "Obviously, if we lose, there's a big narrative. ... (The win is) huge, but it means nothing if we don't get a little more battle to start and stop feeling sorry for ourselves.

"It's got to come from everyone."

The Red Wings will face the New York Islanders on Thursday.

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