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Special teams fail listless Wings in loss, Howard hurt

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla. — Where do you start with this latest Red Wings loss?

It’s easy to say the special teams were costly — and they definitely were, particularly that dreadful power play — in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After scoring six goals in Saturday’s victory over Anaheim, the Red Wings' offensive attack was anemic in this game.

BOX SCORE: Lightning 4, Red Wings 1

But there was more to it than that.

Energy wasn’t consistently there throughout the lineup, confidence appeared to be dropping, and frustration setting in.

“For me everything is about solutions,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “You can have anger if that drives you, you can be (ticked) off, no doubt about it. I’m (ticked) off, they’re (ticked) off.

“But frustration is not solutions-based. We have to find solutions here. We can be (ticked) off, angry…let’s find solutions.”

Blashill wasn’t pleased with the compete level of all his players.

“Not across the board, I didn’t think it was good enough across the board,” Blashill said. “Some guys did and some guys didn’t compete hard enough.”

Then, there’s the fact the Red Wings may have lost, arguably, their most valuable player thus far in goaltender Jimmy Howard for a period of time.

Howard left in the second period with a lower-body injury after defenseman Nick Jensen and Tampa Bay forward Erik Condra (Trenton) landed on top of Howard in the crease, which caused the goalie's right leg to bend awkwardly.

“He’s not going to be available for Friday (in Florida),” said Blashill, who wouldn’t speculate as to the severity of the injury.

Blashill added the team will recall goalie Jared Coreau from Grand Rapids to back up Petr Mrazek.

Not having Howard will hurt, but right now, there are a variety of issues.

The power play is horrendous. The Red Wings were 0-for-5 against Tampa Bay and over the last 10 games, the power play is a a mind-numbing 1-for-32.

“I don’t know if we’re just pressing too much, we want to score,” forward Thomas Vanek said. “It’s a little bit of everything. Everyone is trying too hard, trying to score that goal real bad.

“We just need to simplify.”

The penalty kill wasn’t much better Tuesday, as the Red Wings allowed two Lightning power-play goals on six chances.

Postponed game puts Nick Jensen’s NHL debut on ice

“The special teams, we have to be better,” Vanek said. “It’s areas we work on, talk a lot about, but at the end of the day it felt like special teams lost us the game.”

Blashill saw some frustration on the ice from his players.

“Frustration does no good,” Blashill said. “The other part about frustration is it usually means you are pointing fingers at other people and we have no time to point fingers at anybody.

“We have to look at the mirror and say how I can be better? To man, including myself, we have to won it and find ways, solutions.”

Anthony Mantha scored with 11 seconds left to keep from the Red Wings from being shut out.

The Red Wings (14-15-4, 32 points) have lost four of their last six games, and stretching to their last 10, they’re 3-5-2 and continually unable to gain in the standings in the mediocre Atlantic Division.

“The best players on this team have to be better,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “The leaders have to get guys ready. Win one game, score six goals, then come in and score no goals. We have to be more consistent.

“That’s on us in here.”