Detroit Red Wings' Darren Helm (43) celebrates a goal on Edmonton Oilers goalie Richard Bachman (30) during the first period. (Jason Franson / Associated Press)
Edmonton, Alberta — Finally Darren Helm had the opportunity to prepare, get ready, and actually play in an NHL game.
And he didn't waste it.
After playing in only two games since April 2012, battling an incredible string of injuries and bad luck, Helm was the lineup for the Red Wings Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers and scored the eventual game-winner in a 5-0 victory.
"Good win, good start, felt good out there, and the goal was nice too," said Helm, who played over 10 minutes and was plus-1, while winning 5 of 10 faceoffs.
Helm mentioned nerves were likely going to be an issue —and they were.
"I was pretty nervous, just waiting to get on the ice, hear my name on the bench, anxious and eager to get out there,” he said. "I just wanted to get going and play hockey."
The injuries have been nonstop for Helm since the tailend of the 2012 season.
It all started when Helm sprained his knee in March 2012. He returned for the playoffs, but in Game 1 Nashville's Alex Radulov's skate inadvertantly sliced his wrist.
Helm rehabilitated during the summer but didn't have any hockey to come back to due to the lockout.
Then, just before the shortened season was about to begin, Helm strained a ligament in his back that cost him all but one regular season game.
And topping it off, Helm has had groin issues from the start of training camp, which delayed his start to this season.
"It was a struggle, and it took a long time to get to this point," Helm said. "But I'm excited and can't wait to get going.
"There were days where there was uncertainty if it were ever going to come to this day, whether I'd be playing again. There were a lot of good days, but there were a couple of days that swamped my mood.
"There were some days of doubt, but I'm just happy for today."
Johan Franzen (upper body injury) and Patrick Eaves weren't in the lineup, while Helm and Samuelsson moved into the lineup.
Franzen couldn't finish Friday's game in Calgary.
"Mule wanted to play (in Calgary)," Babcock said. "We probably shouldn't (have let Franzen play). He's not healthy right now and we have to get him healthy."
Franzen said after Saturday's game he expects to be back on the ice Monday, but wasn't sure about playing.
Defenseman Brian Lashoff averted a bad facial injury when a puck deflected into his face in the second period.
Lashoff had a minor scrape around his nose, but no broken bones or stitches thanks to his visor.
"It was pretty hard shot," Lashoff said. "The visor saved me pretty good there."
…Tomas Tatar scored a goal for the third consecutive game, further solidifying his spot in the lineup.
"The team is winning and goals are easier when the team is playing well," Tatar said. "When we're winning, everybody produces and hopefully it will continue."