Wings' goalie woes persist in 6-4 loss to Sharks

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
San Jose center Patrick Marleau tries to get the puck past Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek and Danny DeKeyser in the second period.  The Sharks won 6-4 Thursday.

Detroit — If there wasn't a goalie controversy surrounding the Red Wings, there likely is now.

Jimmy Howard was pulled after one period, Petr Mrazek replaced him, but maybe the more concerning matter is the Red Wings keep losing.

They're allowing too many goals, there's too many turnovers, and the results have been mostly the same, like Thursday's 6-4 loss to San Jose.

With Boston losing in overtime and Ottawa losing in regulation time, the Red Wings lead both teams by five points (90-85).

The Red Wings play both teams next week at Joe Louis Arena.

But until then, the Red Wings will have to stabilize their goaltending and play better in front of him.

"We just haven't been good enough and executing well enough for the past couple of weeks," said Danny DeKeyser as the Red Wings dropped to 3-7-1 in their last 11 games. "That's something that has to change if we want to make the playoffs.

"Teams below us are closing in and they've been for a while now. We have to figure it out pretty quick."

The goaltending continues to be a primary issue.

Howard allowed three goals on 10 shots and was replaced to start the second period by Mrazek, who stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced.

Mrazek will start Saturday against Tampa Bay, said coach Mike Babcock, who gave Howard an opportunity to rebound from Tuesday's subpar performance but the goalie fell deeper into a slump.

"We have to do a better job in our own net," Babcock said. "Petr Mrazek has to get ready to go and gets an opportunity. We need that area fixed.

"We chased the game all night long. The puck went in our net and we played catch-up and catch-up hockey leads to turnovers because you're trying to make the perfect play all the time."

Babcock didn't feel Howard looked comfortable.

"It's one of those things," Babcock said. "I haven't talked to him. I'll talk to him tomorrow. Obviously it didn't go the way he wanted. He's a proud guy and we gave him an opportunity to bounce back and he didn't do that. We'll give Petr Mrazek an opportunity."

Mzarek wasn't sharp, either. The second goal he allowed in the second period came on a long shot by Patrick Marleau that went under his arm.

"I didn't like the second goal," Babcock said. "Is that the fifth goal? When we're giving up as many as we are, it's hard to remember.

"We need him to bunker down and play the way he's capable of playing."

Mrazek did make a sparkling glove save on Tomas Hertl which kept the game 5-4 with six minutes left in regulation, but Marleau's second goal of the game, an empty-netter goal with 1:17 left clinched the victory.

Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Stephen Weiss and Justin Abdelkader scored for the Red Wings (39-22-12, 90 points).

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Nieto, Chris Tierney and Couture added goals for the Sharks (36-30-8, 80 points).

But it's not entirely on the goaltending.

"We're trying too (hard) instead of taking it easy and making the right plays and wait for the right moment," Zetterberg said. "We're forcing stuff. We're not helping our goalies, like boxing in front of him, getting sticks on pucks.

"This isn't on Howie or Petr. It's all of the guys. We have to be better defensively. We'll get our chances offensively and we'll score goals."