Nostalgia sparked revival.
The Detroit Red Wings nipped a nascent losing streak as they used their last home opener at Joe Louis Arena as a feel-good opportunity. They had three goals in the first period, had Petr Mrazek come to the rescue in the second period, had Mike Green complete a hat trick in the third period, leading to a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators tonight.
Green bookended a pair of goals around one from Darren Helm in the first period, and Thomas Vanek had his second multiple-point game as a Wing, earning his third assist when he set up Helm’s power play goal in the third period.
Home openers always are special, but this night especially so because it was the last one at the Joe before the Wings relocate to Little Caesars Arena. The night also afforded an opportunity to show a lovely video tribute to Gordie Howe, who passed away in June.
The event was further magnified after the Wings started the season with two straight losses. Players had talked about feeding off the energy of fans; it was fans who feasted when Jonathan Ericsson dropped his gloves to tussle with Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf six minutes into the first period. More cheers erupted when Green threw the puck on net, and the puck hit Andrew Hammond but still trickled across the goal line, at 12:09.
Helm followed up with his second goal of the season, finishing a breakaway with a big smile after making it 2-0 at 14:15. A power play materialized at 15:42 and a 3-0 lead at 17:17 when Green sent a slap shop straight down the ice. Vanek assisted on both Green goals.
The Wings sagged in the second, generating less attack and even giving up a shorthanded goal when Ryan Dzingel’s pass to Kyle Turris instead deflected in off Riley Sheahan. Mrazek had a very busy period trying to keep his teammates on top, making save after save as the Senators owned Detroit’s zone. Ottawa got 14 shots in the period alone, compared to just five for Detroit.
The period was especially bad for Ericsson, who got hit in the face by a puck and left the ice bloodied. He returned to the game.
A bad call on Green left the Wings with 1:16 of his penalty to kill to start the third period. The Wings would have had a power play when Mark Borowiecki went for interference on Frans Nielsen, but Sheahan went after Borowieck and earned a roughing call. The period was marked with scrums, and Justin Abdelkader traded punches with Chris Neil during a particularly heated stoppage. Green scored again at 13:24 to earn his first career hat trick and to secure the celebration.
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