When Tomas Tatar scored in the third period on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, there was a different vibe at the Staples Center than any other goal that was scored in the game.
Tatar’s father died this week of a liver ailment, but through strength, determination and a predisposed conditioning of winning permanently stamped into the forward’s brain, the 23-year old from Slovakia played and produced in honor of his fallen father.
“That game and that goal was for him, and I felt he was with us (throughout the) whole game. Right now it’s really hard to talk about,” Tatar said. “It’s a big loss for me obviously.”
Although Tomas lost his father only days ago, the forward was still concentrating on the well-being of other players on the Red Wings’ squad.
“I just wanted to work as hard as I could for my dad, and this game was for him,” Tatar said. “I’m really happy we won this game. At the same time, it was Riley’s first goal, right? I was really happy I could help him. It’s kind of funny before the game, I told him he’ll get one today, and he didn’t believe.”
Riley Sheahan scored his first NHL goal just 17 minutes into Saturday’s game. After the puck was kicked out by L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick there was traffic in front of the net. The gritty forward Sheahan forced his way to the front of the net to clean up the trash that Quick left in front of him.
With a backhand shot and a quick trip to the ice below him, Sheahan arose with one goal in the National Hockey League and a boost of confidence for his team to take the league against the Kings.
Coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings gave the media a bit of information on his relationship with his parents, and how it inspires him to keep on being successful.
“The way you honor your father or your mother and the past is by continuing to do what you should do, and playing hard and doing things well,” Babcock said. “(Tomas is) going to have a different relationship with his dad now. I lost my mom early too. I pray (for) my mom every night during the national anthem and I never ever want to let her down. He can do it the same way. His dad’s here with him.”
Jimmy Howard has been fighting a different demon on the ice as of late. The former NHL all-star goaltender, has been struggling this season between the pipes. After the contest with the Kings where he stopped a whopping 45 shots while only allowing one goal, coaches and fans alike can breathe a sigh of relief that at least Howard is figuring out the kinks in his goaltending mishaps.
“There’s a lot of pride,” Howard said. “We all have a lot of pride out there and when something like that happens, you’ve just got to continue to go out there and prove yourself have that determination that you belong out there.”
The Los Angeles Kings are third in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference with 59 points in 46 games played this season.
The Kings are not a team that you forget about beating though, having won the Stanley Cup two years ago in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils.
“I think at the start of the second period we had several opportunities where we didn’t shoot the puck,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “Those are really 1-1 games. If you’re just leaving it until the third, there’s a chance you’re not going to get rewarded for a great effort. We had several opportunities to bear down, but we didn’t get a shot.”
The Wings will take two points and continue their road trip against the Anaheim Ducks, who have already beaten the Red Wings once before this season in demolition-like fashion, 5-2 in mid-December.
The game will be played on Sunday, January 12 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
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Information from the Detroit Red Wings was used in this report.
For more information on the Detroit Red Wings and NHL hockey from analysts and journalists at Michigan State University – tune into Octopi Hockeytown podcasts and embrace the Spartan debate at www.impact89fm.org/sports
Austin Goodman is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
LAK – 14:10 PPG – D. Doughty (Slap) A. Kopitar, M. Richards
DET – 17:11 – R. Sheahan (Backhand) T. Tatar, B. Smith
No goals recorded.
DET – 12:06 – T. Tatar (Wrist) R. Sheahan, T. Bertuzzi
DET – 17:26 – D. Cleary (Wrist) L. Glendening
First: Jimmy Howard
(45SA, 1GA, .978 SV%, 41-41EV, 3-4PP, 0-0SH)
Second: Michael Richards
(1A, -1, 8 shots, 2 hits, 16:46 TOI)
Third: Tomas Tatar
(1G, 1A, +2, 2 shots, 14:07 TOI)