Sputtering Red Wings blanked by Blues
Detroit — The Red Wings lost another close game against another better opponent, yielding another early goal while again playing too sloppy and not taking advantage of a number of scoring chances.
The Blues won 2-0 Wednesday, scoring at 2:06 of the first period and into an empty net with 11 seconds left in the game.
The repetitiveness of the Wings' frustration is all the more difficult for them and their fans to accept. After 57 games, they find themselves nine points out of the playoffs, in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, with just 24 games to make a huge move.
In the last season at Joe Louis Arena, after the death of one of their owners, Mike Ilitch, who returned the glory to the Red Wings, the task is increasingly unlikely.
At this point, it would take a colossal comeback to make the playoffs, the genesis of which seems more difficult to find with each passing game.
“I thought in the first period we had nonsensical giveaways, not really under pressure,” Jeff Blashill said of the 20-minutes where his team had seven giveaways, three by Brendan Smith.
“Other than that, I thought we had some jump, especially up front. And for whatever reasons we had some giveaways that were unneeded.”
This Red Wings outshot the Blues 11-7 in the period, but the Blues' Ivan Barbashev scored at 2:06.
Then the Blues took over in the second, outshooting the Wings 16-4.
“I didn’t like us in the second, we spent too much time in our end,” said Blashill, who seemed beaten down after this loss.
“In the third, I liked us.”
The Wings outshot the Blues 10-6 in the final period, but failed to score despite several flurries all around goaltender Carter Hutton in the waning moments of the game.
“There’s two teams that played good defensively, clogging up a lot in front of both nets,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who led the Red Wings forwards in time on ice, 20:39; shots on goal, six; and in shots attempted, 12.
Three failures to convert on the power play for the worst power play in the NHL yielded some encouragement, as the Wings generated more chances than usual.
“We’re creating at least,” Zetterberg said. “I had a few good chances. I have to score on that.
“But we’re creating.”
But failing to score again, with the man advantage in a one-goal game is in many instances a key to their doom this season.
They allowed the Blues rookie Barbashev to skate alone in their zone and score the second goal of his season in the first period, at even strength. It was Barbashev’s second of the seasonr.
Jaden Schwartz added an empty-net goal at 19:49 of the third.
That was all the Blues needed, against the chronically struggling Wings' offense.
It was the Red Wings fourth consecutive loss in regulation and fifth-straight defeat overall.
They are 2-6-4 in their last 12 games since a three-game winning streak against the Penguins, Canadiens and Bruins ended Jan. 18, which rekindled their long-shot playoff hopes.
A month later, amid a flurry of injuries, Gustav Nyquist’s six-game suspension for dangerous use of his stick, and a deteriorating performance, their playoff hopes are but extinguished.
They were far too loose defensively, especially in their own zone and they spent far too little time in the Blues' end, for much of the game, once again.
The Blues goalie Carter Hutton stopped all 22 shots he faced. Mrazek stopped 27 of 28.
The game was played amid heavy sentiment as the team honored Mike Ilitch, who died last Friday at age 87. He bought the team with his wife Marian in 1982 and not only returned the franchise to prominence but under his stewardship the Red Wings won Stanley Cups four times over 11 seasons.
It was the first home game since his death.
Nicklas Lidstrom, the captain of the last Stanley Cup winner in 2007, returned from Sweden to pay his respects. Lidstrom attended the game.