Detroit — Mortiz Seider, the Red Wings’ impressive rookie defenseman, knew he’d score a goal.
It’s a long NHL season, and Seider didn’t think he’d go without one.
But getting it in Saturday’s overtime, helping the Wings earn a 4-3 victory over Buffalo, the timing was perfect for Seider’s first NHL goal, in game No. 12.
“We play 82 games, so hopefully at some point one will get in,” Seider said. “I wasn’t looking, wasn’t shooting for something. I was just happy to finally get it.”
The fact the Wings won, and ended a four-game winless streak, meant more for Seider.
The slumping Wings needed a victory badly.
“It’s nice getting the game-winner, but I’m way happier with the two points and the way we played,” Seider said. “We did it the right way in the third period.”
Seider and fellow rookie, forward Lucas Raymond, continue to propel the Wings most nights.
Raymond, 19, assisted on three Wings goals, helping him extend his NHL rookie lead to 13 points (five goals, eight assists). The five goals tie San Jose’s Jonathan Dahlen for the rookie lead.
Seider, 20, is second to Raymond with 10 points. Seider’s nine assists leads all rookies.
The two players have shown they’re ready for the NHL from the first puck drop this season.
“It’s a really hard league to be good on a night-to-night basis — they’ve been pretty good on a night-to-night basis,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “(Raymond) really dug in in the third (period). That line (with Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter) was excellent as we got going.
“Moritz plays big minutes. I didn’t think he’d played as good through parts of the game, but when the game was on the line in the third, he was really good.”
As good as Seider was Saturday, Raymond’s contributions were just as important. Raymond’s playmaking ability has been a pleasant development for the Wings, who are in need of offense.
“There’s a reason he (Raymond) was drafted that high,” Seider said of Raymond, the fourth overall pick in 2020 by the Wings. “He’s showing what he’s got. We know what his abilities are in the locker room. He’s just doing his job but he’s doing it phenomenally.”
Seider is playing major minutes, in important situations, and against opposing teams’ best players. But the challenge hasn’t looked overly imposing.
“It’s a lot of games, a lot of competitive players around the league and that’s what you’re looking for,” Seider said. “I’m still adjusting every single day. But the boys make it real easy, so it’s been a heck of a ride so far and I’m really looking forward to the next one.”
Bertuzzi finished Saturday’s game with two goals and two assists and was unquestionably the spark the Wings needed.
Trailing 3-1 late in the third period, Bertuzzi scored twice to tie the game. Then in overtime, Bertuzzi set up Seider, capping the comeback.
“A great competitor, a great person and he’s a hell of a player,” Blashill said of Bertuzzi. “I don’t know if he gets his due all the time for as good a player as he is. He’s had a big impact on the games he’s played in for sure, and certainly (Saturday) he had a huge impact.”
Blashill sensed Bertuzzi was reaching another level after Bertuzzi scored his first goal.
“He dug in,” Blashill said. “We started double shifting him a little bit and he started to feed off that ice time.
“His ability to win pucks, to create offense, that builds momentum. You feed off that. You feed off his work ethic. He’s an example of what we want to be about as a hockey team. He’s got great grit, he plays hard, plays right, plays from the defensive side of the puck, and he can create lots.”