Wings hope Tatar’s big day triggers goal-scoring flurry
Detroit — Maybe this is when Tomas Tatar gets hot and scores a ton of goals.
The Red Wings, with their playoff hopes fading, could use a kick-start. Tatar is a goal-scorer who can do it.
He’s always been a streaky scorer, capable of scoring goals in bunches.
Tatar hadn’t scored in eight games (only one in 13 games ) before scoring twice Sunday — including the overtime winner — in the 5-4 overtime victory over Washington.
“Two big goal-scorer’s goals there,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s a real big scorer. He gets a little streaky at times, and hopefully he can get streaky hot here.
“He’s been a little snake-bitten, but I also think the goals followed what has been real good play here the last little bit.”
The two goals Sunday give Tatar 14 for the season, likely not the pace the Red Wings would have hoped for after signing Tatar, 26, a restricted free agent at the time, to a four-year contract worth $21.2 million in July ($5.3 million salary cap hit).
Last season, Tatar had 46 points (25 goals, 21 assists), thanks to a hot finish. Tatar has gone over 21 goals each of the last three seasons.
Tatar admitted it’s been difficult lately not seeing the puck go into the net.
“When you have chances to score and the goals won’t go in, you feel frustration,” Tatar said. “When the team isn’t winning, it doesn’t feel good. When you score, it’s nice to score for sure.”
Coming after the discouraging loss Friday in Brooklyn to the New York Islanders, the victory Sunday in Washington was much needed.
Especially given the way Sunday’s game was unfolding, with Washington rallying from a three-goal deficit — as the Islanders did — only to see the Red Wings salvage the victory.
Tatar feels the Red Wings can springboard off the win.
“It can give us life for sure,” Tatar said. “The last one (against the Islanders) felt real bad. We felt bad for our fans. It was unfortunate. It was tough for us in the locker room.
“It was good to see everybody smiling (Sunday).”
The Red Wings have enabled three-goal leads in the third period to disappear, ultimately splitting the two games.
The way the two games unfolded were different, with the Islanders exploding for four goals on a Tyler Bertuzzi five-minute slashing penalty, while Washington chipped away at its deficit.
What can the Red Wings do to play better with a lead?
“I guess score would be the only thing else we could have done (Sunday),” Blashill said. “We pushed back hard at that point (in the third period).
“The one thing we talk about is making sure one mistake doesn’t lead to two, and lead to three, and when you make a mistake, let’s make a hard play and if you have to ice the puck, ice the puck, but let’s make sure one mistake stays at one mistake. That’s something we’ll keep working on.”
Blashill, and several players, felt the Red Wings didn’t sit back Sunday and continued to play aggressively.
“There were moments of hard push-back,” Blashill said. “You get late in the game there and you take a penalty and they’re able to score. They obviously have a good power play.
“Our PK (penalty kill) is a little fragile right now, but we’ll get the PK going. We have great penalty killers. We’ll get it back and going.”
DUCKS AT RED WINGS
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.
Outlook: The Ducks (27-19-11, 65 points) are on the outside of an extremely tight Western Conference playoff race. … Anaheim has been decimated by injuries, but is getting healthy. … C Ryan Kesler (Livonia) returned Dec. 27 after missing 37 games and has six goals in 20 games.