Kanata, Ontario — Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson did everything he could but the Red Wings still couldn’t win.
Karlsson allowed two Red Wings goals by himself, but the Senators rallied late on a Dion Phaneuf goal and then won in a shootout, 3-2, Saturday
The shootout was 1-0 in favor of the Senators with Kyle Turris scoring the lone goal against Petr Mrazek while Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson stopped all three shots by the Wings, who’ve lost three consecutive games.
Despite the loss, the Red Wings felt they played better defensively.
“Much better defensively,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “All the defensemen played real well, and as a five-man unit we did a real good job, we didn’t give them a lot until the third period when they started to push a little bit. Overall a much better defensive effort.”
Said captain Henrik Zetterberg: “We did play better, we didn’t give them that much, we focused a little bit more on not turning the puck over.
“We played better. Obviously we would have wanted two points, we’ve kind of given away points here lately, but you get one and move on.”
The Red Wings seemed to have the two points secured until Phaneuf’s goal at 16 minutes, 9 seconds.
Phaneuf’s shot from the point went by Mrazek — who was screened — to tie the game and ignite the Senators.
“We have to find a way, up 2-1, to close it out,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.
The loss was the Red Wings’ fifth consecutive on the road (0-4-1), the first time that has happened since March 2012 when they went winless in seven games (0-5-2).
“It’s funny because we played so well on the road for a stretch of time, but now we seem to get away from that,” Abdelkader said. “Anytime you’re on the road you have to play a simple game and even at the start of this game we were turning pucks over and weren’t getting pucks behind.
“We’re a team that wants to get the tempo as high as possible and skate and we can do a better job of that.”
The Red Wings received a lot of help from Karlsson, the two-time Norris Trophy winner who practically gifted two goals — a truly forgettable night for the dynamic Karlsson.
Andreas Athanasiou and Brad Richards scored for the Red Wings by way of Karlsson’s miscues.
On the first goal, Karlsson was bothered by Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar in the corner and backhanded a poor pass into the slot.
Athanasiou was there alone — Karlsson said Athanasiou called for the puck, a crafty veteran-like move — and blasted a shot past Anderson at 10:46 of the second period. It was Athanasiou’s second goal.
“I hopped off the bench and saw they had him outnumbered,” Athanasiou said. “They were putting a lot of pressure on him. I was fortunate to have the puck pop out with their pressure.”
But the Senators tied it a minute later on a Red Wings turnover.
Brendan Smith broke his stick, which led to the Senators gaining possession. Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau centered the puck to Zack Smith driving through the slot, and Zack Smith redirected the puck past Mrazek at 11:46.
“We had some bad breaks, some bad bounces, but that happens in hockey games,” Mrazek said.
But then Karlsson came into play once more — much to the Red Wings' delight.
With the teams skating 4-on-4, Richards got the puck at the point and lifted a shot toward Mike Green driving to the net.
Instead, Karlsson redirected the puck past Anderson for Richards’ sixth goal at 17:52 of the second period.
But Phaneuf scored late, and after a scoreless overtime — which saw Mrazek make a brilliant save on a breakaway by Bobby Ryan — the Senators won in a shootout.
“It was a fairly even game, they played hard too, but were in positioned to get the second (point) and that was frustrating,” Blashill said. “But frustration, we can’t let that get to us.
“We played a lot better. We have to do the same thing (Sunday in New York), you have to have repeatable efforts night in and night out.”
Dylan Larkin missed Saturday’s game with an illness but Blashill expects Larkin to play Sunday against the Rangers.
Teemu Pulkkinen replaced Larkin in Saturday’s lineup.
“I anticipate Larkin to play,” Blashill said. “Larkin could have played (Saturday) but it would have been at 80 percent and I’m not a big believer when you have 100 percent guys there.
“I didn’t want (Larkin) to play two 80-percent games with the back-to-back (games), it’s hard to play sick tonight and play tomorrow.”
Blashill wouldn’t name a starting goalie for Sunday, saying that’ll be evaluated by the coaching staff.