Vancouver, British Columbia — Tomas Tatar picked a good time to score his first goal of the season.
In only his fifth game of the season, Tatar created opportunities before but couldn’t get onto the scoresheet.
Wednesday, Tatar scored on an innocent enough looking play, getting the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver.
Tatar shot a puck toward the Canucks’ net that goalie Roberto Luongo appeared to be screened on late in the second period.
“Obviously, I had chances before but this is a big relief,” said Tatar, who is beginning to lay claim to a regular spot in the lineup. “I’m real happy we won the game and we’re back on track. Hopefully, we’ll continue on this trip to keep going.”
The Red Wings saw their four-game winless streak end with the victory.
Tatar had two shots on net in 12 minutes, 54 seconds, on 16 shifts, and was plus-1.
“He’s a good player and he’s done a lot of good things when he’s been playing,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said of Tatar.
Wednesday’s game was the fourth consecutive game Tatar had played, after being a healthy scratch for eight of the first nine games.
“Once you get in the lineup, you do everything you can to stay in the lineup,” Tatar said. “You don’t want to get replaced again. Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’m trying to accomplish and play hard.”
DeKeyser likes workload
Playing three or four games in a week could be a grind to some.
Not Danny DeKeyser.
“I like it,” said DeKeyser, said the Red Wings defenseman, who played his 24th NHL game Wednesday. “In college (Western Michigan) we’d play Fridays and Saturdays, and some Friday nights I wouldn’t have any legs because you’re off the whole week and practicing.
“Playing every two or three nights has been good for me.”
DeKeyser impressed everyone last season, jumping right into a playoff chase and performing like a poised veteran.
And he hasn’t tailed off.
“It’s great when the coaches put you out there and have that kind of confidence in you to go out there and do it,” said DeKeyser, who paired with Niklas Kronwall, played 26:42 on 35 shifts, going against Vancouver’s top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Ryan Kesler “I have to go out there and make sure they made the right decision.”
Said coach Mike Babcock: “The thing stands out is he’s an elite skater with a great hockey mind. But he’s a veteran of (23 NHL) games. ... We’re putting pressure on our young guys to be good. We had to last year and we’re doing it this year.”
At 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds, DeKeyser still has room to grow. But it’s his defensive instincts and skating ability that have stood out.
“For most players, the biggest adjustment from junior (or) college to pro is the ability to check because many of those players are offensive players, and unless you can step into the NHL and continue to produce, you have to know how to check,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “(DeKeyser) is good defensively, has good attention to detail defensively and he’s 6-4 and mobile.
“It’s allowed him to transition from college to pro very smoothly.”
Holland said forward Johan Franzen (undisclosed) will play Friday in Calgary, and forward Darren Helm (groin) is expected to play Saturday in Edmonton.
When Helm comes off the long-term injured list, the Red Wings likely will put Jonathan Ericsson (dislocated left shoulder) on the injured list.
... Forward Patrick Eaves (sprained knee, ankle) made his debut Wednesday, with Jordin Tootoo being a healthy scratch.
Eaves played 7:23 with one hit, and was minus-1.
… Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo said with players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, an opponent can’t give the two Red Wings room to operate.
“They’re not guys you want to give time and space,” Luongo said. “They’re going to make plays out of nothing. (Teams) can’t be mesmerized by their puckhandling.”