DETROIT – Better late than never getting credit at all.
It took four days, but Tomas Jurco, who has played in five postseason games without a single point has one – a power-play goal from the Red Wings’ Game 1 win last Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
On Monday, the NHL corrected the scoring play, which originally was a goal scored by Pavel Datsyuk on an assist from Darren Helm at the 0:08 mark of the second period.
By changing the goal, it also means that Jurco now owns the Wings’ club playoff record for the fastest goal at the start of a period. The previous mark was 0:09 set by Gordie Howe in the first period of Game 5 of the 1954 Stanley Cup semifinals against Toronto goalie Harry Lumley.
The goal, which, at the time, was Datsyuk’s second of the game, gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best-of-7 series opener.
“I just find out actually,” said Jurco, who now has his first career postseason goal. “I knew that I touched it, but I didn’t know if they were going to change it. So I just find out that they changed it.”
With Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman returning to the penalty box to finish serving a two-minute minor at the start of the second period, the Red Wings’ power play went to work.
Datsyuk won the opening face-off, beating Lightning center Alex Killorn. As the puck headed across the blue line, Helm scooped it up near the right half wall and made a return pass to Datsyuk in the slot. The Wings’ center deked defenseman Braydon Coburn, moving the puck from his backhand to his forehand before ripping a shot that beat goalie Ben Bishop on the stick side. But a closer review shows that the puck clipped Jurco on the inside of his pant leg before going into the net.
“I saw the replay and I saw how the pants moved,” said Tomas Tatar, who scored his first career postseason goal in Game 2. “Pav scores lots of goals, so I bet he won’t be upset about it, and Jurcs it was his first playoff goal, so good for him. It’s kind of like the same goal as me. I went to the net, it hit me in the shin pad and went in. It’s kind of nice to get a good bounce and get the first goal.”
It wasn’t the flashiest goal, heck, he didn’t even get to celebrate his first career playoff goal on the ice, but Jurco, who managed only three goals in 63 regular-season games, any goal is a good goal.
“Yeah for sure, every goal is a goal especially in the playoffs,” Jurco said. “I would say it was a great play by Pav. He shoot it and it just hit my pants a little bit and went in. It doesn’t really matter who scores, but they changed it so good for me I guess, but every goal is important for the team.
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Jurco, a former 30-goal scorer in juniors. However, coach Mike Babcock believes the 22-year-old Slovakian can still make a difference in this Eastern Conference first-round series against the Lightning.
“He’s got to learn to take care of the puck,” Babcock said. “He’s got to realize you are what you are in the National Hockey League until you become what you want to be. What I mean by that is you have this fantasy when you arrive that you’re this high-end skill guy who’s going to be able to beat people one-on-one and score. Unless you’re a superstar that just doesn’t happen. So you got to get to work. So guys that he should be watching are guys like Glennie and Helmer and Abby and he’s got to put his work boots on and be a physical forechecker and play with pace. They’re a quick team, the harder you get on their D the better opportunities you’re going to have, so that’s what he’s got to provide for us.”
HOME COOKING: Tonight, not only are the Red Wings looking to go up 2-1 in their series against the Lightning, they are seeking to stop a three-game home losing skid in the playoffs.
Detroit lost both home games to Boston last spring, as well as Game 6 of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“To be honest, I kind of forgot about last year,” Tatar said. “I’m not trying to look in the past. It’s a new series, different team, different matchup. We’re really happy that we stole one game in Tampa and now we’re playing at home and we have to take advantage of it. The fans will push us forward for sure. We have to a catch the start and try to finish the checks and make it as tight as we can and over shoot the puck.”
The last time Detroit won a playoff contest at Joe Louis Arena, Jakub Kindl and Daniel Cleary scored the only goals in a 2-0 win over Chicago in Game 4 in 2013.
Tonight, in Game 3 against the Lightning, the Wings will deploy just 10 players who played in that last home win on May 23, 2013: Datsyuk, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Kyle Quincey, Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall and Drew Miller.
The Red Wings have never lost more than three straight home playoff games in the Ilitch era. They lost five straight at home – two at Olympia Stadium and the first three at JLA – between 1978 and 1985.