Los Angeles — Tomas Tatar is becoming an offensive force for the Red Wings and doing it under trying circumstances.
Tatar scored a goal for the third consecutive game in the third period Saturday, breaking a tie and helping lift the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
This, just one day after Tatar suffered the loss of his father Jan, 60, who died Friday in Slovakia.
“This game and my goal were for him,” said Tatar, who will travel to Slovakia Monday and will miss Thursday’s game in New York against the Rangers. “It’s really hard for me to talk about. It was a big loss for me.”
Tatar traveled during the Christmas break back home to see his father, who had liver problems.
“It wasn’t easy but the guys helped me a lot,” said Tatar of playing Saturday. “I was ready to play the game.
“I knew he was sick, but I was still hoping he would make it through. Unfortunately this happened.”
On Tatar’s goal, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made the stop on Riley Sheahan (who opened the Red Wings’ scoring with his first NHL goal), and kicked the puck out front.
Tatar, with two Kings out of position and Quick prone on the ice, jumped on the rebound and fired into an open net, his 10th goal at 12:06.
Tatar pointed a finger to the sky after scoring the goal.
“The kid has been through a lot and all our hearts go out to him,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It was special to see what he did out there.”
Daniel Cleary scored his fourth goal at 17:26 to put the Red Wings up 3-1.
Howard rebounded from a poor performance in Thursday’s loss in San Jose to preserve the win, stopping 44 shots — 20 in the third period.
“Howie gave us an opportunity,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Without goaltending, you just don’t work as hard. They had quality chances and Howard made quality saves.”
Drew Doughty (power play) scored for the Kings (27-14-5, 59 points).
“It was a team effort,” Howard said. “We did a great job at both ends. We cut down on their second opportunities and if there was a rebound, we had a defenseman there to clear it out.”
The Red Wings (20-15-10, 50 points) played without forward Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms), who joined Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Darren Helm (groin), Johan Franzen (concussion), Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) as unavailable to play.
But players like Tatar, Sheahan (both with a goal and assist) and Luke Glendening (one assist) stepped up to fill the void.
“Those kids were good,” Babcock said.
The Red Wings are 2-1-0 on this five-game road trip.
Sheahan, fighting for position near the crease, put back a rebound past Quick after an initial shot by Tatar at 17:11 of the first period.
Doughty opened the scoring with a power play goal, his seventh, at 14:10.
The Kings converted a two-man advantage, the second penalty a questionable holding the stick penalty on Joakim Andersson, who was battling with Doughty while racing for the puck.
“The second period we had several opportunities and we didn’t shoot the puck,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “Those are really 1-1 games so leaving it until the third period there is a chance you are not going to get a reward for a great effort.