Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet celebrates a goal against the Ducks with his teammates Thomas Vanek (62) and Gustav Nyquist (14) during the second period of a game on Dec. 17. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)
Tatar got his first career hat trick, helping Detroit beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-4 on Saturday night to get a desperately needed win with a breakout offensive performance.
“It’s perfect timing,” he said.
Tatar got his third goal early in the third period, putting the puck on both sides of his stick before flipping it over John Gibson.
Detroit scored more goals (four) in the first two periods than it totaled over its previous four games — all home losses — and finished with a season scoring high.
“We knew we weren’t good enough the last four games,” Tatar said.
Detroit has needed Tatar to play better, too.
The Czech winger almost matched the number of goals (four) he scored in his first 31 games of the season. Tatar, who made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season, scored a career-high 29 goals two years ago and had 21 goals last season.
Xavier Ouellet scored his first of the season and third of his career with 2:08 left in the second period to put the Red Wings ahead 4-3, their first lead in five games.
Petr Mrazek helped Detroit keep the lead, finishing with 21 saves.
Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier stopped 17 shots through two periods before being pulled by Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
“He wanted to turn things around and spark the team,” Bernier said.
Rakell and Shea Theodore scored in the first period, giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead that seemed safe against a team that has been struggling to score. Cam Fowler gave them another two-goal lead early in the second.
Tatar, though, pulled Detroit within a goal for the second time, and quickly the Red Wings figured out a way to score.
A little luck helped.
Tatar shot the puck and it went off the left skate of Fowler, caromed off the end boards and went off the back of Bernier’s left leg and into the net.
“It’s a tough building when you’re not used to those bounces,” Bernier said.
Detroit’s Dylan Larkin went to the front of the net and into the crease and was rewarded with a tying goal midway through the second period that stood after a video review and challenge by Carlyle.
“I thought I was in good position and had it,” Bernier said. “It trickled in.”
Rickard Rakell scored his second goal of the game less than two minutes later, pulling Anaheim within a goal.
The Red Wings restored their two-goal lead midway through the third when Frans Nielsen scored off a rebound in front of the net.
“It’s a game of confidence,” Nielsen said.