Krupa: Wings undisciplined, frustrated
Detroit — Some ill-advised penalties and frustration seeped into the Red Wings performance in Game 2 against the Lightning.
It cost them, including on the first goal of the game by the Lightning and at times when they should have been concentrating on their own scoring.
The Lightning is playing a tough brand of hockey.
The referees have been alternately chintzy, wrong and inconsistent, further unsettling the Wings.
The only proper response is executing the game plan, aggressiveness and some scoring — especially exploiting the power play opportunities that occur precisely because of how the Lightning play.
Except for when they were able to make the game 2-2 at 4:27 of the third, with Brad Richards firing through Riley Sheahan at the top of the crease, the Red Wings failed to summon the most effective reply.
Two markedly undisciplined penalties gave the Lightning its first goal. And it happened a second game in a row while the Red Wings were carrying most of the play.
Gustav Nyquist slashed in retribution for being shoved into net. Referees usually catch retribution, and it was a silly little slash of an opponent’s stick — especially deep in the offensive zone.
Justin Abdelkader slew footed Tyler Johnson as he left the Red Wings zone during a Lightning power play with the puck down in the Lightning zone. Absolutely no reason to touch anyone, at that time, let alone slew footing Johnson.
The sequence resulted in a 5-on-3 goal, the first of the game, gift-wrapped with bow.
The Red Wings disagreed with a number of calls, and probably had a good gripe on several.
Pavel Datsyuk lost a tooth on a high-sticking penalty that was not detected, and he got two minutes for roughing when he responded after he was also punched in the side of the head.
Brian Boyle interfered with Luke Glendening and it jump-started the drive up the ice for the Lightning’s second goal.
But overcoming the insanity is a key to winning in the playoffs.
The Wings had another terrific start, outshooting the Lightning, 5-1, in shots to open the game. They were also ahead 10-5 at one point in the first period.
But they were not generating enough scoring chances by getting the puck low to forwards in position behind the Lightning defense, at the top of the crease in front of big goaltender Ben Bishop.
It provides for collecting the deflections, rebounds and providing the screens essential to scoring, especially in the playoffs.
When Richards finally got the puck on net, with Sheahan on top of the crease and Bishop bothered, the Wings tied it, briefly, 2-2
Jeff Blashill shuffled the defensive pairings hoping for tighter coverage than in Game 1.
He also scratched Brendan Smith, yet again, saying he is comfortable with the sextet he is playing, which probably indicates he is not fully pleased with Smith’s defensive play.
The defensive corps played better. But it was not enough.
Larkin stands tall
Dylan Larkin learned a lot in Game 1.
Demonstrating this moxie, he hit Jonathan Drouin hard, in open ice, in the first nine minutes of play after the petulant Lightning rookie took exception to Niklas Kronwall lining him up.
Larkin’s hit may have been a bit high, but his point was clear.
And he left Drouin bleeding from the mouth.
Then, when he was later called for a penalty after a fine back-check in the Wings crease that may have saved a goal, he tied the game almost immediately after leaving the penalty box, on his first NHL playoff goal.
Scoring is the best answer to the rough stuff and the frustration.