Dylan Larkin celebrated with his Detroit Red Wings teammates and thought of his grandmothers as he savored his first hat trick.
Fans at Little Caesars Arena Saturday tossed dozens of hats onto the ice when Larkin’s third goal went in, late in the second period of the 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Larkin rushed up ice on a breakaway, put the puck on his forehand and slipped the puck over Akira Schmid’s right pad. Larkin has had two-goal nights, but it took until midway through his seventh season to get the third one.
“It did feel good,” Larkin said. “I had never had one, and I think about my nana, she’d always give me $5 every goal. Like most proud nanas do, they’re always like, will you score a hat trick — just do it. I’m always like, ‘Nana, it’s kind of hard.’ This one is definitely for my nana, and my grandma.”
It has been an emotional season for Larkin: He was suspended for the second game after throwing a punch in response to being hit from behind in the first game, which rankled because his last season was cut short when he suffered a neck injury. Larkin was injured April 20 when Dallas’ Jamie Benn shoved his stick into Larkin’s spine; there was no penalty on Benn, while Larkin was hospitalized and spent weeks in a neck brace.
Larkin missed three games at the start of November dealing with a personal matter. Then he suffered a COVID-19 scare when he was pulled from the Nov. 16 game at Dallas only to find out it was a false positive. Over the past few days the virus has ravaged the Wings, with six players and coach Jeff Blashill among those placed in pandemic protocol.
Larkin said earlier this week, after the loss to the Hurricanes, that it was human nature to wonder who the next person to test positive would be.
“I touched on it the other night in Carolina,” he said. “It’s difficult right now. You see guys go down and the world right now with the spike, it’s hard. You have to be a great professional and come ready to play, and really be dialed in to nutrition and doing everything possible to stay safe. It’s very difficult and it really seems that there’s no way to stop it.
“I was afraid of it and it was hard, mentally it was hard on myself and a lot of guys. Now it’s been a few years and you have to focus on the now and present and be ready for whatever happens. If you get it there’s no one to blame and you just deal with it and come back whenever you can. You have to have a positive outlook and be in the present and be ready to play.”
Larkin also had an assist to move into the team lead with 29 points in 27 games.
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