Red Wings offense sputters in third straight loss

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Columbus — The Red Wings knew this would be a difficult trip, so this isn’t catching them by surprise.

The Red Wings are in the midst of facing the top three teams in the overall standings over four days and the results have been predictable.

Saturday they lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, their second consecutive loss on the trip and third straight overall.

The Red Wings (22-23-10) have lost eight of their last 10 games (2-4-4), not exactly sprinting into the playoff chase — if there us such a thing for this team.

BOX SCORE: Blue Jackets 2, Red Wings 1

“It’s tough, you want to try to get points every night if you can, especially where we are in the standings,” defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “It’s a tough loss for us, but we just have to turn it around tomorrow (in Minnesota).”

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was again outstanding with 35 saves, including stopping Tomas Tatar near the hashmarks with just under four minutes left.

Thomas Vanek, who scored the Red Wings goal, drew iron at the buzzer.

“We had some good looks, obviously hit the crossbar there late, we had good looks throughout the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If you look at the game, we did good enough stuff to win.

“We created enough chances to win, we got good enough goaltending to win. In the end we didn’t come away with any points and that’s very disappointing.”

Columbus took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period on Cam Atkinson’s 27th goal.

With the Blue Jackets swarming, they out-manned the Red Wings around goalie Petr Mrazek and Atkinson tapped in the puck at 11:27, giving Columbus a 2-1 lead.

The Red Wings had a four-minute power play to bridge the end of the second period and beginning of the third — David Savard for high-sticking Niklas Kronwall — but didn’t convert.

“That would have been nice (to score),” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We created some good chances, he (Bobrovsky) made some good saves there.”

Vanek (power play) and Blue Jacket Boone Jenner traded first-period goals.

Vanek tied the game 1-1 with his team-leading 14th goal at 16:06.

Darren Helm kept the puck in play, found Zetterberg at the top of the slot, and Zetterberg fed Vanek at the side of the net for the sixth road power-play goal in 78 attempts by the Red Wings this season.

Vanek appeared to roll an ankle in third period and missed most of the period before returning.

Blashill said Vanek’s status for Sunday is unknown.

“It looked like a tough injury when he left the ice, but he came back,” Blashill said. “Sometimes those things can get worse (the next day).”

Zetterberg passed Sergei Fedorov for sixth all time with 555 assists with the Red Wings, and the power-play point gave Zetterberg 310, moving him past Fedorov for fourth in Red Wings’ history.

Mrazek stopped 30 Columbus shots in his fifth consecutive start, certainly playing well enough to win.

“It’s always, for a goaltender, important if you play a couple games in a row,” Mrazek said. “You get into the game, you get confidence, it’s good for a goaltender.

“You can’t be happy with the way you played if you don’t have the two points.”

The Red Wings welcomed back Niklas Kronwall (lower body) and Frans Nielsen (shoulder) to the lineup after both had missed the last three games.

Red Wings at Wild

Faceoff: 3 p.m. Sunday, Xcel Energy Centar, St. Paul, Minnesota

TV/radio: NBC/97.1

Outlook: Minnesota (36-12-6) leads the West and is beginning to run away with a current a 7-2-1 stretch. … G Devan Dubnyk (30 wins, 1.96 GAA, .934 SVS, 5 SO) ranks among the league leaders in every category.