Vancouver, B.C. — Give Tomas Tatar credit for picking a fine time to reach the milestone.
Tatar had been stuck at 199 career points for seven games — or, put another way, a seven-game drought where Tatar hadn’t earned a point.
But with Monday’s game in Vancouver on the line, tied at 2-all with just 1 minute, 14 seconds left, Tatar lifted a shot that deflected off a Canucks’ player stick and past goalie Jacob Markstrom for the game-winning goal.
And, finally, point No. 200 of Tatar’s career.
“I had it in my mind,” said Tatar of reaching the milestone. “But things weren’t going well for me, so I just kind of got it out of my mind and tried to play simply.
“You just need a fortunate bounce sometimes. I’m glad it happened.”
Now, the Red Wings hope it happens more often.
Always one of the more streaky scorers the Red Wings have had — arguably one of the streakiest offensive players in the NHL — Monday’s goal was only Tatar’s fourth goal this season.
Having scored two goals in one game, it means Tatar has scored in only three games of the 16 the Red Wings have played thus far this season.
That’s not good enough for one of the key Red Wings’ offensive performers, who re-signed last summer as a restricted free agent to a four-year contract worth $21.2 million ($5.3 salary cap hit).
Tatar had shoulder surgery after last season ended, but was ready for training camp.
“I actually thought he had an excellent camp,” coach Jeff Blashill said. "He had a couple of goals early. He’s had chances, and just hasn’t scored. He’s that kind of player.
“He’s a streaky player. It seems like when they go in, they go in bunches, so I’m hoping they start going in tons.
“He played great (Sunday) in Edmonton, and he played great (Monday in Vancouver). The two prior, he wasn’t as good.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Any team that limits mistakes and puts forth a great effort greatly increases its chances of winning.
Sure enough, the basic and predictable formula has pretty much worked for the Red Wings on this present road trip, winning games in Edmonton and Vancouver playing a sound road game.
Even in the loss to Ottawa which opened the trip, the Red Wings were in the game until a Senators’ empty-net goal clinched the outcome.
“We can see that when we don’t make those (huge) mistakes in the neutral zone and turn pucks over, when we play a more simple game and try to outwork opponents, we can be a really tough team to play against,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “We’ve got a lot of skill here. Once the opportunity comes, we can take advantage of that.”
Blashill has preached to the Red Wings about a need to play fast, out-working teams, and paying attention to details – not being themselves.
The Red Wings have pretty much checked off those areas while winning four of their last five games.
“As a group, the whole team has bought into the way we want to play and that’s one of the most important things,” Blashill said. “On the ice you have five guys headed in the same direction. That’s a big thing. It’s not just coming from the coach, it’s coming from the players and they’re all buying in.”
Minor league affiliate Grand Rapids defeated San Antonio Wednesday, 7-4, in an annual matinee game at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins (6-6-1, 13 points) broke a 4-4 tie with three goals in the third period, including Matt Lorito’s second of the game (team-leading sixth of season). Robbie Russo and Evgeny Svechnikov both scored their second goals of the season.
… Henrik Zetterberg (915 points) is three points shy of tying Pavel Datsyuk for seventh in Red Wings’ history (918).
RED WINGS AT FLAMES
Faceoff: 9 p.m. Thursday, Scotiabank Saddledome.
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 The Ticket.
Outlook: Calgary (8-7, 16 points) saw its three-game win streak end with Tuesday’s loss to Vancouver…The Flames are led by LW Johnny Gaudreau (15 assists, 19 points) and C Sean Monahan (8 goals, 14 points)…G Mike Smith (.923 SVS) has stabilized the goaltending.