Wings’ Tatar finds scoring touch late in season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Detroit Red Wings' Tomas Tatar celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period Saturday.

Detroit – Tomas Tatar has always been known as a somewhat streaky goal scorer.

This season Tatar has lived up to that reputation, maybe more than he would have liked. But the way things are going, Tatar doesn’t want to complain too much.

Tatar’s two goals Saturday — only 1:36 apart in the third period — broke a tie and led the Red Wings to a 5-1 victory over Colorado.

The goals gave Tatar 20 for the season, the third straight season he’s reached the mark — and he scored 19 in 2013-14.

With five goals in his last five games, Tatar is getting hot as the season winds down.

“I’ve been talking about it the whole season,” Tatar said. “Obviously you don’t want these ups and downs, you’d like to be more consistent. But I guess that’s just the way the league is.

“Obviously I’m trying to work on it, to be more consistent, but you know, when you’re hot and the puck is going in the right direction …”

Tatar has the team lead with 20 goals but he’d prefer the Red Wings had a few more victories and were closer to a playoff spot.

“It’s a nice mark,” Tatar said. “But I’d trade 20 goals for being in the playoffs for sure. It’s just the way it is. It’s a stat.”

Coach Jeff Blashill felt Tatar was saddled with some bad puck luck earlier in the season, a key reason the goals weren’t happening.

But good fortune seems to be going Tatar’s way now.

“I said it earlier in the year, he was playing good but he just wasn’t scoring,” Blashill said. “It wasn’t from a lack of chances. Someone told me he led the league in posts hit the first half of the year.

“I don’t think his play has been a whole lot different now. They’re going in and that happens sometimes with guys.”

Blashill’s decision to put Tatar with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist has been fruitful, also, as they found instant chemistry and offensive production.

“That’s a good line,” Blashill said. “They’ve been real good together.”

Helm hurt

The Red Wings could be without forward Darren Helm after he appeared to injure his left leg in the second period.

Helm took a hit from Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson as Helm was receiving a pass from Anthony Mantha.

Helm’s left leg seemed to buckle while absorbing the hit and he immediately went to the dressing room, unable to put any weight on the leg.

Returning to the bench later in the period, Helm attempted to skate during a timeout but was noticeably hampered and returned to the dressing room.

The Red Wings termed it a “lower body” injury.

Blashill wasn’t sure if Helm would be available for Monday’s game against Buffalo, saying Helm was day-to-day.

“I don’t know more than that,” Blashill said. “I can’t necessarily say that I expect him Monday or not. I just don’t know.”

Rivalry highlights

Possibly the highlight of the afternoon was late in the third period when highlights of some of the classic moments of the Red Wings’ rivalry with Colorado played on the video screen.

Both teams watched intently from the benches during the television timeout, and Joe Louis Arena fans roared like they hadn’t most of the afternoon.

This was Colorado’s last game at Joe Louis Arena, with the Red Wings moving into Little Caesars Arena next season.

“It was awesome,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “The video they played was real cool. It got the fans fired up.

“I wish they’d played it a little bit earlier in the game, maybe the first period.

“I definitely got chills watching it. There were a lot of smiles (on the bench).”

Larkin appreciates, even now, playing against the Avalanche.

“To be part of that rivalry is pretty cool,” Larkin said. “To play here, and their last game at The Joe. Obviously it’s a great rivalry.”

Blashill enjoyed the video, as well.

“It was good to watch that on the jumbo screen, and see the fights,” Blashill said. “That was pretty cool.”

The Red Wings improved to 35-17-1-7 all-time against the Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.

Ice chips

The Red Wings brought up forward Tomas Nosek just in case he was needed with a couple players nursing nagging injuries.

But only Mitch Callahan was a scratch, so Luke Glendening returned to the lineup and Nosek was loaned back to Grand Rapids.

Nosek, though, could return depending on Helm’s condition.

… Glendening was a factor for the Red Wings, after being a healthy scratch Thursday against Arizona.

“Luke Glendening was excellent,” Blashill said. “He was a pain in the neck, guys were rattled by him, he was forechecking. Luke was great.”

… The four goals the Red Wings scored in the third period were the most they’ve scored in a single period this season.

… Niklas Kronwall recorded his 300th career assist on Justin Abdelkader’s second period power-play goal.

… With two assists, Henrik Zetterberg now has 28 points in his last 23 games. @tkulfan