Wings offense remains tepid in loss to Blackhawks
Chicago — The Red Wings’ power play continues cold. They lost the specialty teams’ battle to the powerful Blackhawks on Sunday.
Petr Mrazek is in a rut. Jimmy Howard, who used to be, looks better.
Gustav Nyquist scored. Tomas Tatar did not.
Pavel Datsyuk was sick, but it sounds like a virus of some sort and his absence is unlikely to be long.
Henrik Zetterberg said he felt he could not continue to stand in front of the cameras and microphones at the end of a game to say they “did a lot of good things” on the power play, without scoring.
It is tedious for the captain, the team and the coach — as well as the fans.
The Wings remain a work in progress 65 games into the season. Their playoff hopes are bright. But if they could play better, especially with the man advantage, they might not only secure a playoff position, they might reach their goal of playing deeper than the first round this season.
They lost for the second time in four days to their olden rivals, the Blackhawks, 4-1, on Sunday. In two measuring stick games against one the best teams in the NHL, the Wings lost to the Blackhawks by a combined score of 9-3.
On Sunday, the Red Wings were 0-for-3 on the power play. The Blackhawks were 2-for-3.
Mrazek allowed a soft goal to Patrick Kane just 21 seconds in. Kane, who now has 38 goals, requires no pliability for his success.
When Duncan Keith’s long shot from the blue line beat Mrazek at 6:29, Jeff Blashill pulled him.
“I didn’t think the first goal was one that should have gone in; it’s one that Petr normally has,” Blashill said.
He allowed that Mrazek likely faced a challenge on the second one, and there was a Wings defender or two screening him. But Duncan Keith scored his ninth on a long shot from the blue line, and it was not a good enough performance by Mrazek, who has now allowed 23 goals in seven starts, after a scintillating two-month stretch beginning in mid-December.
“The second goal was one that might have been unfortunate, a little bit. But it went in, nonetheless,” Blashill said.
“Then, the next thing you know, you’re down two-nothing right away. I think you have to change the momentum of the game.”
Howard played well, stemming the tide in the first period as the Blackhawks continued to press, as well as early in the third period.
A couple of minutes after Keith’s goal, Nyquist scored his 16th after Danny DeKeyser’s quick stick intercepted an outlet pass at the Blackhawks blue line and moved the puck quickly to Nyquist.
The 2-1 game remained for almost 33 minutes of play, but the limp Red Wings offense never provided another tally.
The Blackhawks struck as they can, quickly, in the third with two goals in 1:08, beginning with Artem Anisimov (19) on the power play and then Jonathan Toews (24) at even strength when the Wings suddenly could do nothing against a powerful, feverish offense.
Had they finished some of their chances throughout much of the game, the Wings would have been more fortunate.
Had they capitalized on their power play opportunities?
“We couldn’t get any goals on the P-P, and their third one was on the P-P and that was huge goal in the game,” Zetterberg said.
“It’s hard to stand here game after game and say we do good things (on the power play) and we are not scoring goals. We’ve got to figure something out.”
Generally, the Red Wings offense generated shots and chances.
“We had a lot of chances. A lot of shots on net,” a frustrated Zetterberg said. “We’ve got to put some pucks behind the goalie, if we want to win.
“I thought we were let back in the game, when we scored the first one. We had some momentum going, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
After the game, as usual, Mrazek was consummately composed. But unlike many games from mid-December through mid-February, he was disappointed.
“Big disappointment,” Mrazek said. “Obviously, you don’t want to allow two goals in six or seven minutes at the beginning of the game.
“We have to stay positive, and go and get the next one.
“I wouldn’t say I’m playing any different, I have to find a way to stop them and not let goals just go through me, and I have to look forward.”