DETROIT >> If this is how the regular season is going to go for Tomas Tatar it’s going to be a very successful offensive one.
Tatar scored three goals, the last coming in an empty net, to lead the Detroit Red Wings over the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1, Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.
“Every season after the one before you try and change yourself to be better,” Tatar said. “At the end I want to one of those guys like Hank or Pav. I want to be a leader. I would like to pick up as much experience from those guys. They’re great hockey players. They’re great examples for us young hockey guys.
“We have lots and lots to learn,” Tatar added. “Every day for me when I’m watching those guys they are like learning days. Those guys are unreal. There is lots to take from those guys. I have lots to learn defensively and offensively. I like to watch those guys.”
It was also his first game with his newest linemate Brad Richards.
“Richie is a great player,” Tatar said. “He made some nice plays out there. I’m just hoping we can save a few of those for the regular season.”
Richards assisted on all three of Tatar’s goals.
Tatar and Richards worked a nice give-and-go in the Blackhawks’ zone for the first goal of the game.
“Brad is a really smart player,” Tatar said. “I saw him open there and as soon as I slid him with the puck two guys jumped on him and he passed it to me back and I shot it and it and it went into the net.”
Tatar and Richards each finished a plus-3.
“He knows how to score,” Richards said. “I like that. He finds ways to score. One of them was a great shot from the slot and the other one he’s going to the net and he’s in a hard area, even though he’s not the biggest guy.
“To score in this league – he got 29 last year – you can’t just shoot pucks from the perimeter and score anymore,” Richards added. “He obviously knows how to get to the net and when he’s there, he knows what to do with it. He’s giving and going. He’s a heady player. So far it’s been fun to play with him.”
This is exactly the kind of chemistry first-year coach Jeff Blashill was hoping to see out of that line.
“Tats is a real, real talented player who competes extremely hard, has a lot of confidence and wants to win badly,” Blashill said. “He’s got a lot of attributes that make you a real good player and I think he’s continued to progress and we’ll work together to make sure his game continues to progress.
“We want him to be an elite player in the league,” Blashill continued. “He scored 29 goals last year and there’s very few that had more than him, so he’s developing into that and we’re going to continue to help him.”
The Wings signed Richards on the first day of free agency after he had just won the Stanley Cup with Chicago.
“He’s a really smart player,” Tatar said. “I knew I’m going to have fun with him. I hope we stay healthy and play together.”
Tomas Jurco, who’s replacing Darren Helm on the line after he was injured on the first day of training camp, also finished a plus-3.
“It’s a tough game,” Tatar said. “It’s the preseason. We’re still working on the system. We have lots of stuff to work on. I didn’t feel the best on the ice. I found spots that I need to work on and be better in the system.
“We’ll take the win for sure,” Tatar added. “We battled. We’re still in learning mode. This was our first real game for us and this group. It was a good start. We have to get into it. We’re happy we won the game.”
Tatar is in the second year of a three-year deal that has an average salary-cap hit of $2.75 million.
“They seem to be playing good, they’re two real skilled players and I think they like to play a skilled game, they like to make plays, which I’m good with as long as we’re limiting the turnovers,” Blashill said of Richards and Tatar. “We had too many turnovers tonight probably in general. But I think they’re two guys that want to play that skilled type game so there’s definitely chemistry developing there.”