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Return is bittersweet for Tootoo

Red Wings' forward scores in first game back in Nashville

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 12:01 AM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Return is bittersweet for Tootoo

Jordin Tootoo returned to Nashville for the first time since signing a three-year contract with the Red Wings during the off-season. (Photo by Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a bittersweet homecoming for Jordin Tootoo, who made his first return to the city that he called home for nine years.

On Tuesday night, Tootoo scored his very first goal in a Red Wings’ sweater – which also happened to be his first goal in any sweater in nearly 14 months – though in the end his new team lost to his old team.

Playing in their ninth overtime game of the season, the Predators pulled out a 4-3 victory when Shea Weber scored just 44-seconds into the extra session at Bridgestone Arena.

“You can score all you want but at the end of the night, if you don't win it doesn't matter,” said Tootoo, who last scored on Dec. 28, 2011.

Ever since the lockout ended and the NHL’s compressed 48-game schedule was unveiled, Tuesday’s game was going to be a spotlight game for Tootoo, as well as the Nashville fans, whom he entertained for eight seasons with his trademark hits.

Before the game, Tootoo wasn’t sure how fans would view his return. “I'm just going to go out there and embrace it and enjoy every moment of it,” he said. “I played a lot of years here. I've made a lot of great friends here and a lot of experiences I'll never forget.”

At first, the sold-out crowd didn’t know if they should cheer or jeer their former favorite son, as a mix of both rang through the building as Tootoo hopped over the boards to take his first shift just 91-seconds into the opening period.

“Obviously, it's very humbling,” said Tootoo, who finished with five shots on goal and four hits, both season-highs for him. “I couldn't thank them enough for all their support over the years.”

But moments later, the home crowd showed their true respect for the man who holds the franchise’s all-time record for penalty minutes. It was during a first-period TV timeout, that the Predators’ organization played a video tribute to Tootoo, which was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation. The clips showed Tootoo in action both on the ice and in the Nashville community, where he had become a very popular figure in middle Tennessee.

“I had no clue they were going to do that,” Tootoo said. “A couple of guys on the bench told me to look up and there it was. When you start your career here, you grow as a person, for them to do something like that is pretty nice.”

Tootoo showed his appreciation for the fans by scoring his first goal in 57 NHL games.

Streaking down the right win, Tootoo took a cross-ice pass from Henrik Zetterberg, and tried to return the favor to the Red Wings’ captain, but Predators defenseman Kevin Klein – in an attempt to block the pass – accidently re-directed the puck with his right leg and past goalie Pekka Renne at 11:33 of the third period. The goal tied the game at 2-2, and also set off a three-minute fury that featured goals by Nashville’s Roman Josi and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.

The Wings worked hard to get back into the game after spotting Nashville an early 2-0 lead, but Tootoo said there are no moral victories.

“Tonight we battled back hard but just couldn't finish,” he said. “We got to win games.”

THREE STARS: 3, Gabriel Bourque, NSH (1 goal); 2, Pavel Datsyuk, DET (1 goal, 1 assist); 1, Shea Weber, NSH (1 goal, 1 assist).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59