A lively crowd and a captain’s row of former greats heralded the Detroit Red Wings’ opening night.
All started well as Dylan Larkin scored, delighting fans that crowded into Little Caesars Arena on a rainy Thursday night to see the Wings take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the first time since the pandemic shuttered the NHL in March 2020 that a full house had been possible.
The Wings fed on the energy, but their lack of discipline dissolved their lead to a tie in regulation. The Lightning owned the puck in overtime, and Ondrej Palat secured a 7-6 victory with his second goal of the game.
The blown lead dampens a memorable night for Tyler Bertuzzi: He scored a hat trick in the second period and added a fourth goal in the third period. Larkin was gone by then, ejected for retaliating against a hit.
Ondrej Palat interrupted Bertuzzi’s hat trick and Steven Stamkos converted twice on power plays less than two minutes apart to reduce the Wings’ lead to 4-3 by the end of the second period.
Bertuzzi’s fourth goal and Namestnikov’s first restored a cushion early in the third period. Newcomer Nick Leddy earned his second assist on Namestnikov’s goal.
Ross Colton scored with 6:17 to play. Robby Fabbri went to the penalty box with 4:11 to play, putting the Lightning on power play for the seventh time, and Tampa added to the skater advantage by pulling Andrei Vasilevskiy. It took five seconds for Nikita Kucherov to convert. Alex Killorn scored at 17:41.
Back in action
It didn’t take long for Bertuzzi to drive home just how much the Wings missed him last season, when a back injury cost him all but the first nine games. In the opening minute of the second period, Bertuzzi took a pass from Leddy, weaved from two defenders and sniped the puck past Vasilevskiy.
Bertuzzi upped the score to 3-0 when he pounced on Adam Erne’s rebound in the paint. Bertuzzi completed the hat trick at 12:29 when he took a pass from Robby Fabbri and ripped the puck into Tampa’s net.
Captain celebrates, leaves
Larkin finally got to celebrate his captaincy before fans, introduced before the game as a who’s who of former captains lined a red carpet. Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg, along with Alex Delvecchio, Red Berenson, Paul Woods, Nick Libbett, Dennis Hextall and Mickey Redmond were on the ice for to recognize Larkin as the franchise’s 37th captain. Larkin was named at the start of last season, but the pandemic prevented any recognition before fans. Larkin earned the first when he skated to the net as Robby Fabbri took a shot from the left flank. Larkin knocked in the puck, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead.
The second period took a rough turn for Larkin. Mathieu Joseph hit Larkin in the neck/shoulder area; Larkin’s season was cut short last April when he suffered a neck injury that required hospitalization. Larkin retaliated, taking a swipe at Joseph’s head, and officials assessed Larkin a match penalty, ejecting him from the game. Joseph and Jan Rutta, who jumped Larkin, were each assessed roughing penalties.
The NHL will review the incident to determine if further disciplinary action is warranted, but it’s doubtful Larkin will be suspended.
It’s only been a little more than two years since Yzerman drafted defenseman Moritz Seider and a year since forward Lucas Raymond joined the organization. Both rookies had debuts to remember: Huge cheers when they were introduced in pre-game ceremonies, and an assist. Seider had a hand in Bertuzzi’s first and fourth goals, and Raymond in the third. Seider quarterbacked one power play unit, and Raymond was part of the other.
Contact Helene St. James at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings blow Bertuzzi’s big night in Lightning loss