DETROIT — Mike Green had the best game of his career offensively, allowing Detroit Red Wings fans to truly celebrate the last home opener at Joe Louis Arena.
Green scored three times for his first hat trick and Darren Helm had two goals to help Detroit beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Monday night.
The Red Wings are leaving the venue they have called home since the 1979-80 season next year for a new arena nearby. Red-and-white clad fans filed into the arena that has been the home of four of the franchise’s Stanley Cup-winning teams ready to celebrate and they weren’t disappointed.
“You could feel the energy of the fans,” Green said. “That led right into the opening ceremony, in through the intros and then the game. We were excited and wanted to put on a good show.”
Green scored twice in the first period and his third goal restored a three-goal lead with 6:36 left in the game.
The 31-year-old defenseman entered the game with 120 goals in his career, which began during the 2005-06 season with the Washington Capitals and included a 31-goal season three years later.
“He certainly showed that he’s still has a lot of ability from a few years ago,” Andrew Hammond said after stopping 20 shots in his first start of the season for Ottawa. “He was the difference.”
The Red Wings signed Green last year and he had a relatively quiet season with seven goals and 28 assists.
“He’s coming into this season much more comfortable,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He spent a whole career with another team and then he switched teams. It takes a little while as a human sometimes to adjust.”
Helm scored on a breakaway in between Green’s goals in the first period and added a second goal with 2:56 left in the third, giving the Red Wings three goals in a 5:34 stretch.
“That first goal just deflated us and there’s no way that one goal should deflate us,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “You’re asking for trouble when you react that way to one goal.”
Ryan Dzingel’s short-handed goal midway through the second period pulled the Senators within two goals.
“We tried to come back in the second period, but you can’t start out that way in the first period,” he said.
Detroit’s Petr Mrazek made 13 of his 31 saves in the second period to keep a relatively comfortable cushion.
After beginning the season with two losses, Detroit looked determined to start strong against the previously unbeaten Senators.
Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson fired up the crowd by dropping his gloves and fighting Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf less than 6 minutes into the game.
With more scoring and fights, fans had plenty of reasons to cheer the rest of the night.
“The home opener is one thing for sure, but certainly it felt more a little more a playoff game, given the last home opener in The Joe,” Blashill said. “You could feel that energy right at the drop of the puck. It’s an unreal building in terms of energy and I’m sure we feed off that.”
NOTES: The Red Wings, playing their first home game since the death of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe, honored the man known as Mr. Hockey with a video tribute during the first break in the game. Fans were asked to stand and to hold up No. 9 signs that were on each seat before the game. The Red Wings also will wear a “9” on their jerseys. Behind each net, “Howe 9,” is painted in red. … Ottawa F Matt Puempel played for the first time this season, replacing Phil Varone in the lineup.
Senators: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.
Red Wings: Play Wednesday night at the New York Rangers.