Red Wings fans and players had been long awaiting to see Darren Helm back on the ice after he had played just one game since March 2012 due to injuries.
Helm made his return to action against the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night, and looked like he was back to normal early on.
"I was pretty nervous, I was pretty anxious and eager to get out there," Helm said. "I started getting tired towards the end. I had to play a little harder on the puck and bodies. There were shifts where I got a little tired, but I was able to recover pretty quick on the bench. They did a good job keeping my shifts short and using me when they needed to."
It didn't take Helm very long to put an exclamation point on his return, as he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 5-0 Red Wings win. Helm collected a bouncing puck at center and raced past two Oilers defenders before beating Richard Bachman between the pads at 5:09 of the first period for his first goal since March 9, 2012.
"It was a nice lucky bounce," Helm said of his goal. "It was the icing on top of the cake, really. The relief came after the game, knowing that I could still play. The goal was just a nice addition to that. I was really excited. It was one of the nicest moments I have had in a while, since this injury bug started."
"[Helm] gives a huge dimension of talent that we can take advantage of if he is healthy," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He can be dominant. To see him do what he did tonight, I thought he played very well."
“First game of the season, it’s great, but I think we play really well,” Mrazek said. “It’s more tough for a goaltender with 14 shots, but I was focused every shot.”
Tomas Tatar scored his third goal of the season 27 seconds after Helm's goal when he beat Bachman off of a rebound. It was the third consecutive game Tatar had scored a goal in.
Bachman was eventually pulled after getting injured and was replaced by Jason LaBarbera in the first.
Jakub Kindl added his first goal of the season at 6:55 of the second when he ripped a slapshot past LaBarbera.
Joakim Andersson picked up his second goal of the year at 7:54 of the third period after he took a feed from Drew Miller and slid the puck into the net. Todd Bertuzzi closed out the scoring with a power play goal at 9:43 for his fourth goal of the year.
“We controlled the game and we played well,” Babcock said. “We wanted to play three periods, we didn’t want to play two like we did last night. I thought we were professional.”
NOTES: Helm's last goal before Saturday was also a game-winner against the Los Angeles Kings…Daniel Alfredsson picked up two assists in the game…Brendan Smith and Will Acton dropped the gloves with 41 seconds left in the third.
- DET Daniel Alfredsson (2 Assists)
- DET Tomas Tatar (Goal)
- DET Petr Mrazek (W, 14 saves, 1.000 save percentage)
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