Green caps off JLA party with hat trick, Wings prevail
Detroit — The feeling began before the game, and lasted throughout Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
This was the Red Wings’ last home opener in the venerable building. The players certainly felt the vibe.
And with the emotion riding high, the Red Wings won their first game of the season, 5-1, over Ottawa.
“It started with the red carpet walk before the game,” said Mike Green, who starred scoring three goals — his first career hat trick. “You could feel the energy with the fans and that led right into the opening ceremony and through the intros and to the start of the game.
“We were excited and we wanted to put on a good show.”
That, the Red Wings did, after two opening losses in a road trip through Tampa Bay and Florida.
Darren Helm added two goals, Thomas Vanek assisted on three goals, and Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots for the victory.
“We didn’t get the outcomes we wanted on the road, which is two tough games,” Green said. “But sometimes it takes a couple of games to get your feel and the guys played real well.”
Green scored two goals in the first period, one on the power play, and the Red Wings jumped out to a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Got lucky,” said Green of his three-goal game. “Outstanding plays by Vanek there, and Tats (Tomas Tatar) and Glennie (Luke Glendening). Just kept trying to get more (of) the mentality of shooting.
“The team played great. We put pressure on them and we didn’t set back. That’s why we kind of were able to finish it off there.”
The Red Wings want Green to shoot the puck more, and the aggressiveness seems to be paying off.
“Greener has played well all the way through the preseason, really,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Even the games in Florida, for the most part, he’s played well. He’s attacked the game. He’s been shooting, a real good shoot-first mentality.”
A free agent signing in July 2015, Green appears more comfortable in his second season with the Red Wings.
“You spend your whole career with another team and switch teams, it takes a while as a human to adjust,” Blashill said. “He looks real comfortable and he’s attacking the game.”
The line of Helm centering Vanek and Gustav Nyquist (one assist) was again dangerous, earning six points between them.
“That line has been great, they’ve been — game in and game out — our best line,” Blashill said. “Vanek has been real strong on the puck, he’s won a lot of puck battles. If he does that, he’ll be real successful. Helm has tons of energy on that line and Nyke has been real good.”
Vanek, with five points in three games, likes how his line has produced.
“We’re creating,” Vanek said. “I don’t know what’s clicking but each guy brings something else (to the mix). We can feed off each other pretty well and so far it’s working.”
Unlike Saturday in Florida, the Red Wings were the attackers against Ottawa.
“We did a way better job on our toes and obviously the momentum of the game went our way,” Blashill said. “We didn’t give up those big time chances against (us) for the most part.”