Defensive lapses Red Wings' latest nemesis

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Dallas — Suddenly, the Red Wings aren’t playing good enough defense.

The Dallas Stars' Lauri Korpikoski celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.

There have been a variety of problem areas with this Red Wings team but defensive play, generally speaking, has been fine.

Until recently, with Thursday’s 5-2 loss in Dallas the latest example.

Three of the Stars’ goals were a direct results of defensive mistakes, as the Red Wings let a 2-1 lead disappear.

“We have to be tighter defensively,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We can’t continue to give up this many goals and expect to win. We have to get tighter defensively without losing our offensive attack.”

Since shutting out Los Angeles Thursday, arguably one of the Red Wings’ best games this season, they’ve allowed 15 goals the last three games while losing all three (0-2-1).

“We tried to make the cute play,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Maybe it’s that we wanted it a little too much instead of getting the puck deep and getting it back.”

On the Stars’ first goal, Steve Ott failed to clear the zone leading to a deflected goal by Lauri Korpikoski.

Rare power-play goal not enough for Red Wings

Dallas tied the game 2-2 early in the second when Tomas Tatar cleared the puck straight to Radek Faksa’s stick.

Faksa’s shot was tipped for a goal by Brett Ritchie.

The most glaring Red Wings’ play occurred on John Klingberg’s goal to put Dallas ahead 3-2. Klingberg put in a rebound while several Red Wings — Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek — were nearby but didn’t help goalie Petr Mrazek, who stopped Devin Shore’s drive to the net.

“I just know the puck was there and we either have to clear the puck out or stop and make sure we battle better than that,” Blashill said.

With games against Pittsburgh (Saturday), Montreal (Monday) and Boston (Wednesday) coming up at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings understand team defense is going to be an important issue.

They can’t expect to turn the puck over, allow four or five goals, and believe they can out-score opponents.

“We have to make sure we make hard plays getting pucks out of our end,” Blashill said. “We can’t pucks over because it makes you defend way more. That was definitely something that was an issue. We need to be better than that and execute on a higher level.”

Missing the net

Simply getting the puck on net was an issue against Dallas.

The Red Wings were credited with missing 20 shots on net and Dallas blocked 24 Red Wings shots.

Prime scoring opportunities came away empty because pucks missed the net completely.

“We have to hit the net a little bit more and do a better job of that,” forward Gustav Nyquist said. “We pushed in the third (period) and came out skating hard creating a lot, but we have to hit the net more to make the goalie make a save and get rebounds off that.”

Blashill felt scoring chances weren't capitalized because of the inaccuracy.

“We missed the net too much,” Blashill said. “We ended up with a lot of shots by the end (33) but in the second period and into the third, we had a lot of really good chances where we missed the net.

“We have to make sure we are hitting the net and we have to make sure goalies make saves.”

Ice chips

The Red Wings went 2-3-2 over seven consecutive road games, gaining no ground on the Atlantic Division.

“It’s behind us,” Blashill said. “Let’s come in Saturday and learn from (the trip) and be prepared to win a hockey game. I don’t think about what’s happened. We have to move forward.”

…Blashill on goalie Petr Mrazek, who stopped 16 of 20 shots: “He battled in there. He looks like he’s in a good spot in his game.”

Penguins at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit, 97.1

Outlook: The defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins (26-10-5, 57 points) have lost two straight games…The Penguins rank 2nd in goals (140), 4th on the power play (22.8 percent) and 1st in shots (34.7)…C Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in goals (26).

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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