Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Detroit Red Wings

Tatar is becoming quite the star

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Tomas Tatar celebrates his second-period power-play goal Saturday night. He finished the night with a career-high three points, including two goals. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Five times in his hockey career, Tomas Tatar cracked the 20-goal plateau, including his final three seasons in the American Hockey League.

He made it six on Saturday.

Tatar broke through the 20-goal ceiling for the first time as a National Hockey League player with a single-game best three-point performance to lead the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory against the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators.

“I'm not really thinking about it right now but obviously I'm happy I did it and hopefully I'll keep scoring and help the team pick up wins,” Tatar said. “Right now I don't realize it. I took it as just another game and we won and that's the big thing right now.”

Tatar, who scored two goals, including his team-leading fifth game winner on Saturday, became the 10th Red Wing to reach the 20-goal mark in the past five seasons.

“He’s a very dangerous scorer,” said Stephen Weiss, a four-time 20 goal scorer. “He’s got a real good shot and he’s got a lot of energy. He’s a fun guy to be around, a fun guy to be around in practice. He practices hard and he works at it. It’s turned into quite the star.”

The start of the season wasn't star-like for Tatar, who registered one goal In his first nine games. But since then he has produced 19 goals and 12 assists in his last 36 games, including eight goals and 10 points in last 11.

“It’s great for him,” said goalie Petr Mrazek, who stopped 34 shots Saturday. “It’s not over yet so I hope he going to get another 20. That would be great.

“He’s smart player, a great offensive player and he knows where to be and he has a great shot.”

For the second straight game, the Wings knocked off one of the league’s hottest clubs. Detroit posted a 3-2 overtime win at St. Louis on Thursday to finish a six-game road trip away from Joe Louis Arena.

“I think we were really excited to play this game,” Tatar said. “They’re doing really good this season and just to play against them is really good for us and a really good test. When you score, you get pumped and you get the team going and we scored three goals.”

Despite being one of the league’s top stories this season with three Preds players and their entire coaching staff invited to participate in next weekend’s All-Star Game festivities, the Predators entered Saturday’s game with an obvious hole in their lineup.

For the second straight game, Nashville was without All-Star goalie Pekka Rinne, who suffering a sprain knee last Tuesday that will keep him sidelined for 3-5 weeks.

Without Rinne, the Predators are relying on Carter Hutton, who has bounced from four different NHL organizations in the past five seasons. Predictably, things didn’t go well for the 29-year-old journeyman as he allowed three goals on four shots to the Red Wings, who have won eight of the last 11 games.

“I think we were really excited to play this game,” Tatar said. “They’re doing really good this season and just to play against them is really good for us and a really good test. When you score, you get pumped and you get the team going and we scored three goals.”

It was just the third time this season the Wings managed to score at least three goals in the first period. The other occasions – vs. Dallas on Dec. 4 and vs. Los Angeles on Oct. 31 – also resulted in home victories.

Gustav Nyquist got the scoring windfall started in the first minute of the game on a two-on-one.

Tatar got the play started with a pretty breakout pass from deep in the defensive zone, sending Riley Sheahan and Nyquist on an odd man rush through the neutral zone. Streaking down the right side, Sheahan made a crossing pass to Nyquist who fired a wrist shot that beat Hutton on the short side at 57 seconds.

Hutton made his only save of the night stopping Darren Helm’s 17-foot snap shot nearly seven-minutes after surrendering the lead. But it wasn’t long before Hutton’s night ended as Detroit scored on its next two shots – goals by Kyle Quincey and Tatar – to build a 3-0 lead to chase the backup at 12:32 of the opening period.

“It’s really nice to have a lead and to get goals,” Tatar said. “We had a really good start, a couple good shots and I’m happy those shots went in.”

Henrik Zetterberg and Tatar capped Detroit’s scoring by adding power-play goals in the second period against Hutton’s replacement, Marek Mazanec, who was making his first NHL appearance of the season.

“We got off to a real good start and then I thought we got a little bit careless late in the first,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Really came at them and scored another goal on the power play and got it to 5-1 and weren’t as good, probably, as we should be after that. But that’s part of being ahead, too. I liked the way we scored. I thought Riley Sheahan’s group was excellent. We did lots of good things at times and got a little loose at times.”

Saturday’s game raised the Red Wings’ home sellout streak to 168 games in their first game played on home ice since Dec. 31. The Wings’ current streak began during the 2010-11 season at Joe Louis Arena.

“We felt like we were on the road forever,” said Weiss, who had an assist. “It was strange driving down to the rink today. It felt like we’ve been gone for awhile, but it felt real good to play in front of our fans and get a big win.”

View More