The Red Wings lost a hockey game tonight, but they may have gained a future.
The kid trio of Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan were exciting, buzzing all over the ice, scoring goals, preventing others, and darn near led the Red Wings to victory. As it was, the Florida Panthers erased a two-goal deficit late in the third period and beat Detroit in a shootout, 5-4 at JLA.
It was a disappointing end to a 3-1-1 home stand, but the rookie line showed what Red Wings fans might be in for going forward—a tenacious, speedy, creative line that could give opponents fits in the near future.
The line combined for five points and was easily the best trio of forwards on the ice for the Red Wings (23-18-11).
It was Tatar’s 12th goal with 6:27 left that gave Detroit a 4-2 lead and it looked like the Red Wings would complete a 4-1 home stand with wins over Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles and Montreal.
But the Panthers struck twice in less than three minutes, the latter being a shorthanded goal to tie the game.
Sheahan, who showed his high hockey IQ all night on both ends of the ice, scored a pretty goal at 18:15 of the second period to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
On the power play, Sheahan—the Red Wings’ first round draft pick in 2010—camped out to the left of Florida goalie Tim Thomas, waving his left-handed stick for Tatar to see from the point. Tatar delivered the pass onto the tape, and Sheahan, in one motion, whipped around to his forehand, made a move on Thomas, and neatly slipped the puck into the net.
It was a goal you’d expect from a crafty veteran, not a 22-year-old kid playing in his 14th NHL game.
So it was a loss, but the Red Wings got a much-needed point, and more importantly, saw the silver lining to the cloud that has been their injury bug—that lining coming in the form of three youngsters who might turn this city on before too long.
BOTTOM LINE: You can’t let two-goal leads slip away, especially at home, with six minutes to play, when you’re scratching and clawing for a playoff spot.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: The refs missed a blatant high stick leveled on Tatar late in the third period, a whack that drew blood on no. 21’s forehead. The Red Wings power play, which had been buzzing all night, might have sealed the deal had the call been made. Tatar was caught by FSD cameras incredulously complaining to any zebra that came within earshot.