DETROIT — When the Red Wings acquired Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators, visions of game-winning goals danced in fans’ heads.
The dreams became the reality Saturday when DeBrincat scored what turned out to be the winning goal on a well-executed 2-on-1 break at 4:14 of the third period. It was Detroit’s fifth goal in a 6-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Red Wings’ home opener. It was DeBrincat’s second goal of the game and third of the young season. Now Detroit fans have a better appreciation of why this Farmington Hills native is averaging 31 goals per season over his first six NHL seasons.
“It was a nice night for Alex — his first game back home,” Dylan Larkin who set-up the GWG with a perfect feed across the goalmouth. “It’s pretty special.”
DeBrincat finished with two goals and an assist. He is the third player with three goals through his first two games with the Red Wings, joining
Bobby Ryan in 2020-21 (3-0-3 in two games) and Harry Watson in 1942-43 (3-1-4 in 2 games).
Coach Derek Lalonde has said the Larkin-DeBrincat chemistry has been slow developing. Lucas Raymond playing on the other wing might have helped bring it together in this game.
“I think we probably stopped thinking and we played,” Larkin said. “Razor, it was nice playing with him and he won a lot of pucks, he hung onto a lot of pucks. We all did. We weren’t really throwing it away.”
Larkin, DeBrincat Finally in Sync
Lalonde’s theory: the twosome just going at the same time. Larkin assisted on both of DeBrincat’s goals to give him three points in the first two games.
“We kind of talked about this,” Lalonde said. “They hadn’t had that ‘wow ‘click yet. We’ve been patient with it. I think they just elevated their compete tonight. Their want, their will, their attitude, whatever phrase you want to call it. I think it led to them having the puck a lot and making plays. ”
Raymond has played regularly with Larkin over the past two seasons. He didn’t do anything differently to fit with Larkin and DeBrincat, although he did stir up his team with a big hit early against Michael Eyssimont. Raymond also scored early in the second period.
“He’s been buzzing for awhile here,” Lalonde said. “He was really good the other night, too. When he is skating like that, he is keeping plays alive. How may plays did he create for himself on the forecheck alone? And then obviously they were able to make some plays from there. Good for him and obviously a step in the right direction.
Newcomers Finding Net
Those players were not alone in raising the offensive compete level. GM Steve Yzerman brought in several free agents this summer with hope of creating a spike in their offensive production. It’s working. Daniel Sprong was brought in with the hope he might be able to score 25 and he has two goals in his first two games. JT Compher had a goal and an assist against Tampa Bay.
They ranked 24th in goal scoring last season, and they have nine goals in their first two games against quality teams. It’s a small sample size, but they even looked more dangerous offensive
“We just have a couple more sticks offensively. When you get a little more skill there it’s amazing what it can add to your group. Again we’re getting some depth in scoring.
One of the themes since the Red Wings acquired DeBrincat is whether he can score 40 goals again. A member of the media jokingly reminded DeBrincat is on a pace for 123 goals.
“It’s a little early to be thinking about that but I want to stay as consistent as possible.” DeBrincat said. “That’s what all the great scorers do is stay consistent throughout the season. Try not to drift off and go in those slumps. Got to play the right way and luck will eventually come back to you.”