Sniper's instinct pulls Red Wings' Helm out of funk

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings' Darren Helm (43) is congratulated on his goal by teammate Dylan Larkin (71) during the third period.

Sunrise, Fla. —  There was no fancy, slick, outrageous move on this breakaway, nothing that would have found a place on the nightly highlight shows.

No, on Darren Helm’s breakaway Friday in the third period, Helm skated down the ice, then “let it rip.”

It was a good, accurate, hard shot that whistled past Carolina goalie Scott Darling, and iced the Red Wings' 4-1 victory.

The goal ended a 15-game goal-scoring drought for Helm, who also is just two games removed from returning from a lower-body injury that forced him out for two weeks.

Was there frustration associated with the shot? Any sort of message to anyone?

No. Helm just hadn’t had any luck with any slick moves.

“I made that move because I’ve struggled putting the puck in the net by making moves,” Helm said. “Just dumbing it down a little bit and it worked out.”

Helm had the goal, and added two assists, in what was one of the best games of the season for the veteran forward, who has made his presence felt on both ends of the rink since returning to the lineup.

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“It feels great, I don’t know if I played a whole lot better in previous games,” Helm said. “But it’s definitely nice when the puck gets in the back of the net. Either from myself or getting it to teammates.”

Helm was plus-3 for the night, and his work on the penalty killing is one reason the unit has stabilized in the last two games since his return and that of Justin Abdelkader and Trevor Daley, all of whom were injured.

The Red Wings missed Helm’s speed and persistence, both on the penalty kill and at even strength.

“He was like everybody else, he competed his tail off,” said coach Jeff Blashill, of Helm after Friday’s victory. “Helmer competes every night. He’s been a real consistent guy for us all season. His competitive level separates him in the league.”

Trending upward

The season didn’t begin the way defenseman Danny DeKeyser would have wanted, but it’s been turning around lately.

DeKeyser injured his ankle the third game of the regular season in Dallas, and would proceed to miss 17 games.

When he returned Nov. 19, DeKeyser was pressing and wasn’t playing to his capability.

But with more game action, DeKeyser has gradually become one of the team’s most consistent and dependable defensemen – and Friday scored his second goal of the season.

“I definitely feel better on the ice the last few weeks,” DeKeyser said. “I’ve been playing a little better as well. The ankle injury kind of sets you back a bit.

“I would definitely say I’m feeling pretty good right now.”


It was Helm who fed DeKeyser on the goal, with a little bank pass of the boards for a one-timer from the point.

Trevor Daley added a goal in the second period, also on a feed by Helm, giving the Red Wings two goals from defensemen, who have contributed three goals in the last two games.

“We saw tonight what they can do, what the team can do, when we get a couple goals from them,” Helm said. “It’s game by committee  with our team.”

Said Blashill: “Two areas I thought were easy ways to create more offense (after the break), (were) shooting the puck and defensemen getting involved more in the offense. We haven’t produced enough points from our back end and we have the ability to, and to start to show (offense) is a big thing for us.”