The Detroit Red Wings endured two ugly losses in Florida to start their 2016-17 season, but a return to Detroit for the final home opener at Joe Louis Arena is exactly what the doctor ordered.
It was a special night at the Joe. They rolled out the red carpet, they honoured the late Gordie Howe and ended up walking away with two points for the first time this season.
The first period has been the best period for the Red Wings so far this season and that did not change on Monday night. The Senators got off to a fast start and got the first power-play of the game. The Red Wings were able to weather the storm and kill the penalty, keeping the game scoreless. In the final home opener at Joe Louis Arena, Jonathan Ericsson decided to give his best Joe Louis impression when he dropped the mitts with Senators’ defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Good tilt from the big boy, if he isn’t going to play defence he might as well throw the fists around. Shortly after that fight, Mike Green got a beauty pass from Thomas Vanek and ripped a wrist shot through Andrew Hammond for his first of the game and first of the season.
After taking the lead midway through the first period, the puck was Detroit’s and less than three minutes later Henrik Zetterberg sprung Darren Helm on a breakaway…and I know you are thinking “yeah but Helm doesn’t score on breakaways!” And normally you’d be right, but on this night, Helm buried his second of the year.
The Red Wings’ first period dominance didn’t stop there. On the power-play Vanek found Tomas Tatar who delivered a silky-smooth sauce pass to Green, who absolutely hammered home his second of the period. 3-0 Detroit heading to the break.
Fairly early into the second period, the Red Wings found themselves with another man-advantage, where Tatar would have a number glorious chances, but was unable to cash in. Instead, Erik Karlsson found Ryan Dzingel on an outlet pass, Dzingel outwitted Brendan Smith and scored a shorthanded goal that went in off of a Red Wings’ skate. Detroit would end up getting outshot 14-5 in the period, but escaped with the 3-1 lead intact.
Detroit and Ottawa would trade chances for the first 10 minutes of the third period, but neither team was able to cash. The boxing impersonations continued, this time with Justin Abdelkader and goon Chris Neil dropping the gloves.
With that fight, the Red Wings now lead the NHL in fighting majors with six (per hockeyfights.com). This is the first time the Red Wings have led the NHL in fighting majors during the regular season since 1985-86.
— hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) October 18, 2016
Two minutes after the scrap, the Mike Green Show continued. Luke Glendening, without a helmet I might add, found Green at the blueline and with no one within a country mile of him, No.25 stepped into a wrister and notched his first career hat-trick.
Everyone was making a big deal about that Auston Matthews kid scoring four goals in his NHL debut against these Senators. That’s cool an all, but if our defenseman can score a hatty against these guys, it must not be that hard! The goal was Green’s fifth point in the first three games and he’s been hot since the end of last year.
Dating back to last season, Mike Green has 19 points (6G / 13A) in his last 23 regular season games.
— Brock Seguin (@Brock_Seguin) October 18, 2016
Two minutes after that, Vanek found Helm in front and he potted his second of the game to give the Red Wings a 5-1 win! While Green’s hat trick is crazy impressive, Petr Mrazek was equally as good tonight. Mrazek played well in his first two games of the year, but was letdown by his teammates. Tonight, he stopped 31 of 32 shots (.969 SV%) to earn his first of hopefully many victories this season.
Despite an impressive 5-1 win, the Red Wings were outshot for the third straight game, something they’re going to need to fix if they’re going to string some wins together. Tarar, Marchenko, Nyquist and Zetterberg were the only Red Wings’ players with a positive Corsi on the evening. However, it was another great night for Nyquist-Helm-Vanek line and the Tatar-Larkin-Zetterberg line was extremely dangerous all night. Tatar could have easily had a hat trick of his own.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
The Red Wings will be off on Tuesday before they meet up with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. After that, the Red Wings return home for three in a row before a brief stop in St. Louis and then they return home for two more. That gives Detroit five home games in the next seven, so they’ll be looking to pick up points in bunches after getting in the win column tonight.