Wings lose to Bruins, playoffs fading from view

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Boston — Merry Christmas for the Red Wings?

It’s definitely going to be less merry, after they lost 3-1 Saturday to the Boston Bruins.

The loss left the Red Wings (13-15-7) 10 points behind Boston (19-10-5) for the third place and the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

With each loss — the Red Wings are 3-6-2 over their last 11 games — the playoffs appear to be a gift that won't be coming their way.

“We all know the magnitude of this game standings-wise,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s hard to be on the losing end.”

The Red Wings are off for a three-day holiday break, not playing until Wednesday in New Jersey.

BOX SCORE: Bruins 3, Red Wings 1

When they return, realization has set in they’re at a critical juncture of the regular season.

And, frankly, the season might have already been lost.

“You look at the standings and it’s black and white, it’s right there,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “The good news is there’s still time. That last spot in the Atlantic (Division), I don’t think it’s out of reach. Even the top two (spots).

“But we have to start putting some games together. We have to get hot and stay hot.”

Boston’s Patrice Bergeron broke a 1-1 tie in the third period with his ninth goal.

Bergeron than added his 10th on an empty-net goal with 12 seconds left.

“It was an even game and they found a way to make one more play than us,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to find a way when we get back from Christmas, every game is like this.

“We have to make a play to make a difference in the game.”

Brad Marchand (who scored the first Boston goal) found Bergeron near the dot and Bergeron whistled a one-timer past goaltender Jimmy Howard at 6:11 of the third period.

Frans Nielsen (shorthanded) and Marchand traded goals on the same power play in the first period.

Marchand gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 13:37 of the first period on a two-man advantage.

The Bruins patiently worked the puck, and Marchand capitalized from the dot, with his 15th goal.

But the Red Wings quickly answered with their NHL-leading 7th shorthanded goal.

Nielsen forced a turnover in the neutral zone, carried the puck into the zone, and lifted a shot that beat goalie Tuukka Rask through his legs, Nielsen’s ninth goal, at 14:38.

“There are tight games out there, and just get one bounce here or there to go our way and it’s a different story,” said Howard, who stopped 23 shots. “We’re doing a lot of good things out there. We’re just not getting results.”