Ber­tuzzi’s hat dance amuses team­mates

The Detroit News - - SPORTS - BY TED KULFAN The De­troit News

St. Paul, Min­nesota — There are ben­e­fits to hav­ing Tyler Ber­tuzzi as a line­mate.

He’s gritty, he’s not afraid to throw fists when he has to, he’s al­ways go­ing to be around the net and scrap for pucks.

And when Ber­tuzzi does score, that’s when the real fun be­gins.

“His cel­e­bra­tions are pretty funny,” line­mate Dy­lan Larkin said of Ber­tuzzi’s wild, arms flail­ing, ram­bunc­tious get-to­geth­ers. “He gets fired up.”

The Red Wings were for­tu­nate to see three of those “cellys” Satur­day, as Ber­tuzzi’s three goals — and Thomas Vanek’s two goals — pow­ered the Wings to a 5-2 vic­tory in Min­nesota.

This was a de­served vic­tory for the Wings, who’ve only had three in the last 16 games, and badly needed a boost of con­fi­dence and reaf­fir­ma­tion.

And it was Ber­tuzzi who got things go­ing, redi­rect­ing a Gus­tav Nyquist shot 24 sec­onds into the game.

Then, in the third pe­riod, with the Wings cling­ing to a 3-2 lead, Ber­tuzzi did it again on the open­ing shift, scor­ing, de­flect­ing Larkin’s shot 47 sec­onds into the pe­riod.

“It was great to see, he’s just a good, fun kid, bat­tles hard, goes to the net,” Vanek said of Ber­tuzzi. “That’s the game I en­joy and I see a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties in his game. He loves go­ing in there and get­ting his hair in his face, what­ever, and he’s good at it.”

The three goals gave Ber­tuzzi 13 for the sea­son. Only Larkin (18) and An­dreas Athana­siou (17) have more for the Red Wings.

Some­what fit­tingly, Satur­day’s game was the 100th of Ber­tuzzi’s ca­reer. He now has 20 goals in his first 100 games, a tes­ta­ment to his will­ing­ness to do the dirty work for line­mates who might have pure skill and sup­ply the flash to Ber­tuzzi’s grit.

“That’s his bread and but­ter for sure,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Ber­tuzzi’s bee­line for the net. “He’s a real good de­fen­sive player, a good com­ple­men­tary player with guys like Larkin and Nyquist, be­cause he can make a play with them. He’s got poise with them.

“He’s real good around the net, he knows how to tip pucks. Not just a net pres­ence, but knows how to tip pucks.”

Ber­tuzzi felt things evened out for him Satur­day, be­cause the night be­fore in Win­nipeg, he had good op­por­tu­ni­ties to score and came away empty.

“I missed an open net (in Win­nipeg) so I needed to bounce back and cre­ate of­fense and our line was de­cent (Satur­day),” Ber­tuzzi said. “After the sec­ond one I felt like maybe it was my night, or I’m in the right spots. It felt good to get the hat trick.”

Im­por­tant win

A team rel­ishes any win, but the Wings

Satur­day’s.

There haven’t been a lot of them in weeks, and the frus­tra­tion over play­ing well enough to win — and not — was get­ting to the group.

Beat­ing the Wild was a sort of val­i­da­tion for the Wings.

“It’s been a tough stretch but the way we won, it was a to­tal team ef­fort,” Larkin said. “We had our best third pe­riod of the year, we shut them down. Any mo­men­tum they wanted to cre­ate, we ended it.

“We proved to our­selves we know how to win games.”

deeply

Happy re­turns

ap­pre­ci­ated

Team­mates were happy for Vanek, whose fam­ily still lives in the Min­neapo­lis area, and whose sons had their friends at Satur­day’s game.

“My kids are get­ting older, they have friends who are into hockey, so they come to the game and they’re ex­cited, so it’s fun to score for those lit­tle boys and show them the old man can still score a cou­ple,” Vanek said.

The two goals Satur­day gave Vanek nine for the sea­son, not en­tirely the type of pro­duc­tion the Wings an­tic­i­pated from Vanek, who missed sev­eral weeks with a knee in­jury.

“His ef­fort has been great,” Blashill said. “It’s not an ef­fort thing.

“At times he’s started to squeeze it (the stick) a lit­tle bit too tight. Good for him to shoot the puck. We need him shoot­ing as much as he can.”

Tom Olm­scheid/As­so­ci­ated Press

Tyler Ber­tuzzi couldn’t con­tain his ex­cite­ment after com­plet­ing his first ca­reer hat trick Satur­day night.

Thomas Vanek, left, got a hero’s greet­ing after he scored Satur­day against the Wild. Vanek played col­lege hockey for Min­nesota.

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