Detroit — The Detroit Red Wings let another multi-goal lead get away from them Saturday, and this time it cost them.
Matt Martin scored early in the third period, snapping a tie and sending the New York Islanders to a 3-2 victory.
The other times the Wings squandered leads this week — four total in the last three games — they still managed to gain a point in the standings, losing in a shootout to Tampa, and defeating Toronto in overtime.
This game, they weren’t as fortunate.
“This one was way different than the last two in the sense it’s 2-0, but it’s early in the game,” said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, noting the Islanders rallied in the second period. “This became a hockey game real fast when they made it 2-1, then you (put them) on a 5-on-3 and enough times you’re going to score on a 5-on-3.
“We got bogged down with the penalties.”
Once the Wings fell behind, the Islanders made it difficult to rally.
“They have a good 1-1-3 (defensive system), so when they (get ahead), it makes a neutral zone a barrier and they were good at shutting it down,” Blashill said.
The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead after one period on goals from Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall.
But Casey Cizikas scored early in the second period, and Ryan Pulock (power play) scored on the two-man advantage, setting up Martin’s third-period winner.
Martin converted a bounce that came to him directly in front of goaltender Jonathan Bernier and scored his fourth goal.
“It was off (Islander Cal) Clutterbuck’s skate and went right back door to Martin,” Bernier said. “It was kind of a broken play and he was there at the right time.”
When the Wings did get past the Islanders’ trap, once they fell behind, they had decent chances but goaltender Thomas Greiss (23 saves) was sharp.
The Wings were 0-for-3 on the power play, an area Blashill felt they were underwhelming.
“If there’s one area where I would say we have to be way better, it’s that,” Blashill said.
Hockey fans love their fights, especially on a Saturday night, and this one had several good ones.
After Kronwall steamrolled Islanders forward Anders Lee in the first period — Lee missed almost a full period — things became chippy.
Lee acknowledged he did have his head down, which video confirmed, making it unlikely Kronwall will hear from the league.
Blashill felt officials took too much time as it was, looking at the hit.
“It was a clean hit, let’s move on,” Blashill said. “But that’s not for me to decide, and ultimately it didn’t have an effect on the game.”
Islander Josh Bailey tripped Kronwall in the corner late in the period – it was close to a slew-foot — to which Larkin took exception and he and Bailey — two usual non-fighters — went at it.
Larkin’s willingness to stand up for Kronwall was praised in the Wings’ locker room, although with Anthony Mantha (hand) already out for a month after a fight, the Wings are leery about their scorers suddenly turning fighters.
“If you have a team that doesn’t want to stick up for each other, you have a bad team, they don’t care for each other,” Blashill said. “We have a team that cares for each other.
“Do I want to see Larkin fight all the time? No. But he has to make those decisions on the ice and I want us to be a group that stands up for each other for sure.”
Abdelkader and the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk exchanged heavyweight blows in the second period, as both teams were pushing and shoving, and Abdelkader become bloodied.
“It was a rough, physical game,” forward Tyler Bertuzzi said. “It was physical, a lot of little plays. We played pretty good.”