DETROIT – Jordin Tootoo sure knows how to energize a home crowd.
Just three seconds into Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Dallas, Tootoo fought the Stars’ Eric Nystrom. And if that wasn’t enough, he tangled with Dallas’ Brenden Dillon near the end of the first period.
“That’s part of my DNA, to bring emotion into the game and having guys feed off of that,” Tootoo said after the game. “I feel great. Let’s get after it again. I still had one more fight in me. I mean, it is what it is, but it is all part of the game. For me I don’t mind doing that part.”
The Wings targeted Tootoo on the first day of free agency and signed the former Nashville Predator to a three-year deal worth $5.7 million.
“We’re not really used to seeing that,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “But Toots goes out there and sets the tone for us, whether it’s a big hit or dropping the gloves. He got the crowd into it early for us.”
According to hockeyfights.com the Wings had the fewest fighting majors in each of the past eight seasons. And over the past 12 seasons, Detroit has ranked last 10 times and second-to-last the other two times.
“It’s part of my game and my foundation is bringing emotion to the game, brining energy and the guys feeding off of that,” Tootoo said. “Now let’s get after it Friday night.”
Tootoo’s scrap with Nystrom was the second time he’s fought right off the opening faceoff, going toe-to-toe with Columbus’ Jared Boll on Jan. 21.
His fight with Dillon, who’s six inches taller, was instigated by a hit Tootoo delivered on the Stars’ Philip Larsen last week. The rookie defenseman wanted to go with Tootoo and the end of his shift.
“I’m basically trying to protect myself from not getting hit and just keep whaling,” Tootoo said of fighting the much taller Dillon. “I have a good memory of what happened last game. It’s a rookie move when you ask a guy to go at the end of his shift. I thought we both were pretty fresh and away we went.”
Tootoo has 67 fighting majors in his career.
“I was expecting him to get on the forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple bouts obviously and we don’t mind that either,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We just assume he forechecks. He’s a guy that gives us a different dimension that we’ve had and when he’s out there guys know that he’s out there.”
Todd Bertuzzi is the last Wing to right twice in a game. Bertuzzi went with Nashville’s Shane O’Brien on April 2, 2011. Tootoo did not play in that game.
“It’s just good old-time hockey,” Tootoo said. “I mean, I thought we needed another little energy boost there and that’s pretty much what happened.”
Justin Abdelkader led Detroit with six fighting majors last season.
“He’s really good at getting underneath the other team’s skin,” Howard said of Tootoo. “It’s great to have him on your side, that’s for sure.”