Wings recalibrate as season hangs in balance

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Wings Dylan Larkin got a good view of his shot that seemed to ride the crossbar behind Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the third period.

Detroit — The Red Wings say they believe their first round series with the Lightning is closely contested and that a little better play on their part can result in a win in Tampa on Thursday, which would return the series to Joe Louis Arena for a Game 6.

“What’s in the past is in the past,” Niklas Kronwall said. “All we can do right now is look forward to going down to Tampa today, and get focused on the game for tomorrow.

“All we can do right now is focus on winning one game.”

Players and coach Jeff Blashill said they are working on the power play, which stymied their valiant comeback attempt against the Lightning in the narrow 3-2 loss, Tuesday, at Joe Louis Arena.

They also said players need to take fewer penalties, which propelled the Lightning Tuesday, providing for all three of their goals on the power play and reinvigorating the big line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov.

“The process if focusing on the little ways we can be better,” Blashill said.

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“These aren’t miles of differences. These are inches and millimeters of little differences. We’ve got to be better in those ways.
“And also focus tomorrow on winning a hockey game. That’s all we’ve got to do tomorrow, win a hockey game period.”

The Wings said they expected to watch a bit of video to better understand how they can get more shots to the net on the power play. The Lightning has been adept at positioning players in the shooting lanes to block shots, and the Wings are having trouble, as a result, generating second chances in front of the net — the sort of play that often leads to goals in the tight-checking league and especially in the tight-checking playoffs.

“They were good,” Justin Abdlekader said. “We have to make some adjustments and be better.
“It’s far from over. There’s a lot of hockey to be played.

“All of the games have been close. Score the third goal, and it’s different. I think if we could have scored the third goal, we probably would have won the game.”

Henrik Zetterberg said that the Wings focus needs to be quite narrow, just one win. That psychology can help a team looking to clean up a few details, to match an opponent’s elevated game.

“We know what we have to do: Going down to win one game and bringing it back here, for Sunday,” Zetterberg said. “Whatever’s been in the past we’ve just got to move on and get ready to play a better game.”

Twitter: @greggkrupa