Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar talks about scoring his first goal of the season in Wednesday's loss to Toronto. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Toronto — Tomas Tatar didn’t seem overly bothered by it, being the regular season is only seven games old.
No need to stress, yet.
But in that seventh game Wednesday, a convincing 6-3 Toronto victory over the Red Wings, Tatar finally got into the goal-scoring column.
Tatar put back his own rebound in the second period past Toronto goalie Curtis McElhinney. Just like that, Tatar was on the scoresheet, after a quiet six games.
Always a streaky goal-scorer throughout his career, everyone concerned enjoyed the sight of Tatar scoring a goal — and hopeful the goal breaks open
“I wasn’t really too worried about it,” said Tatar, of the six-game stretch without a goal, noting the team was playing well and the offense had been dangerous.
“We started real good, and that was a big thing for us. A lot of guys scored goals, which was nice to see.”
Tatar led the Red Wings with 25 goals last season, but it was a season made up largely of hot and (mostly) cold streaks.
A restricted free agent last summer, Tatar was re-signed to a 4-year contract worth $21.2 million which solidifies his future — but also puts added pressure, given the importance of Tatar’s offense on this particular roster.
Consistency, or lack of it, has often been an issue with Tatar. But the Red Wings can’t afford many long droughts from him this season.
“Obviously the same thing kind of happened last year, so it was good to see him score for sure,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I expect him to get hot here.”
This week was supposed to give a little clearer indication of who the Red Wings are, after a successful five-game start to the season (4-1-0).
The Red Wings were to play three tough teams and get a good litmus test.
Losses to Tampa Bay and Toronto have left the Red Wings with only final opportunity to earn points tonight against Washington.
“The process Monday (loss to Tampa) was very good. In large parts the process was good (Wednesday) but we have to eliminate some mental errors,” Blashill said.
“We have to make sure all 20 guys are going but we also have to get results.
“The urgency has to be real high come Friday (against Washington).”
Shoot the puck
Blashill felt his team had opportunities to shoot the puck against Toronto, but had a tendency to make an extra pass that took away a prime scoring opportunity.
“Two areas we’ve got to better is at is having a little more shot-first mentality, and having more net presence,” he said.
“They probably go in hand-in-hand. When people are at the net, you are more apt to shoot the puck. We have to become a team that’s more committed to shooting the puck.”
The Red Wings cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3 before a slashing penalty against Niklas Kronwall put Toronto on the power play – which the Maple Leafs capitalized on with a goal, regaining a two-goal lead.
The Red Wings have earned slashing penalties in five of the seven games.
“We’ve all got to get on the same page and we’ve got to be aware of our sticks,” Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s tough because there are some obvious ones, and some that you kind of shake your head at and wonder why it is a slash.”
… Abdelkader, incidentally, had a good feeling his goalie interference call was going to get reversed and Jonathan Ericsson’s goal would stand.
“I was out of the crease when I looked down,” Abdelkader said. “I wasn’t sure if I got him (McElhinney) before that. (But) I thought I was out of the crease, so I thought it was a good goal but that’s why we have the reviews.”