Detroit – The joy and relief on Adam Erne’s face pretty much said it all.
When Erne scored his first goal of Tuesday’s game against Columbus – he would get two before the night was done – the smile was large and the sigh of relief understandable.
Through 27 games, Erne had no goals, no points.
After Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets, Erne had finally gotten on the scoresheet.
“It took a while but I’m just happy to get it,” Erne said. “’I’m disappointed we couldn’t come away with the win.”
The points haven’t come for Erne – just as they haven’t for many Red Wings on a regular basis – but he’s been able to be a useful grinder, and agitating presence.
“Adam Erne had his best game as a Red Wing,” said coach Jeff Blashill of Tuesday’s performance. “Beyond scoring, he was impactful. He had a good game.”
Erne has looked for other ways to contribute this season while the offense disappeared.
“Everybody wants to score, but at the same time, if I wasn’t scoring I was trying to contribute in whatever way that I could,” Erne said. “Whether that was being physical or just being a leader on the bench and keeping guys positive.
“But hopefully, they’ll (goals) start going in.”
Forward Dylan Larkin could sense the relief for Erne after scoring on a one-timer off Frans Nielsen’s pass.
“I feel really good for him, he was one of our best players (Tuesday) and provided a spark,” Larkin said. “You could see with the celebration on his first goal that was a big relief for him – and rightfully so. It was a great shot and great play on both of them (Erne’s goals).
“He was the spark we needed and he brought it.”
Wings need 'moxie, swagger'
While Erne and others from the bottom six forwards – Nielsen, Brendan Perlini, Luke Glendening – provided secondary scoring with points, the Wings’ forwards looked upon for offense were largely silent.
Tyler Bertuzzi scored his 12th goal, on a power play (Larkin assisted), but otherwise, Blashill wasn’t impressed with the overall performance.
“You have guys that really good players that didn’t play good,” Blashill said. “Your best players have to play way better than that.
“I don’t want to single out one guy, I just think as a group you have to have moxie and confidence and you have to be way better than that.”
Blashill referred to his son’s youth hockey team – how his son is “allergic” to the puck occasionally – and compared Tuesday’s Wings’ game to what happens with the kids’ team.
“He gets rid of it as fast as he can and that’s kind of the way we played,” Blashill said. “That’s confidence, moxie and swagger, but we’re the only ones that can give us that. We have a whole bunch of guys that are good hockey players in that room that aren’t playing as good as they can.”
Added Larkin: “Not enough guys were going. We didn’t work enough for each other.”