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DETROIT — Dylan Larkin skated off the ice and into the locker room shaking hands with less than four minutes left in the second period Wednesday.

A gunshot wound eight days earlier lingers, but Larkin continues to play. He returned to start the third period and scored his second goal midway through the game. It stood as the game-winner in the Detroit Red Wings’ 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“He’s obviously struggling with something,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “It was great, a great competitor, I think Russ helped him. Obviously, he needs a center to draw, but only to fight and compete. He was excellent. It was the whole line.”

Lalonde moved Michael Rasmussen from center to wing on a line with Larkin and David Perron. It takes some of Larkin’s workload (he’s still played six draws with his ailing arm) and also takes advantage of Rasmussen’s versatility.

Rasmussen, who has played exclusively at center this season, took advantage of a rare opportunity to play on the Larkin line, scoring twice and assisting on the game-winner.

“Russ is a versatile player,” Lalonde said. “(Assistant coach) Alex Tanguay puts a little pressure on him to see him on the sidelines. I think it makes his game easier, he can slide more north-south on the wing and he’s been pretty good there.

“With the number of injuries we’ve had all year, it’s a luxury to have guys who can play both wing and center. (Pius Suter’s) focus the last few games played really well for us, too.”

Before this season, Rasmussen was used to moving back and forth between center and wing, as well as up and down the lineup.

“It just makes you want to play hard for the guys around you,” Rasmussen said. “When you’re struggling (with injury) I think obviously we all know and we all see it with guys, you just try to pick up the slack where it’s needed.

“I think we had a really good forecast night, some good plays. I think overall everyone was competing, getting to their spots, and that worked out well for us.”

The Red Wings (14-11-7), coming off a six-game skid (0-4-2), were looking forward to giving Ottawa some momentum tonight. But that match was postponed on Thursday due to bad weather forecasts and was rescheduled for February 27.

That gives Larkin more time to rest his ailing arm and the team a six-day Christmas break before visiting Pittsburgh on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Detroit).

“As the season progresses here after Christmas, it warms up,” Larkin said. “Conference games, divisional games are huge.

“We’ve got to start getting some traction and start playing like this more often.”

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