Red Wings' loss underpinned by penalty kill's failure

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Washington, D.C. — The sequence, the play, most fans are going to remember from Friday’s incredible loss to the New York Islanders is forward Tyler Bertuzzi’s five-minute slashing penalty.

No doubt it changed the complexion of the game.

But to the extent it did — Islanders scoring four power-play goals, taking a 6-5 lead, the Red Wings tying the game, then losing it in overtime — no one could predict.

And, when pointing to Bertuzzi’s penalty, don’t overlook the work, so to speak, of the Red Wings’ penalty kill.

A unit that has been rather efficient most of the season, wasn’t against the Islanders.

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“How we reacted on the kill,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to bail the young guy out. He’s played real good hockey for us, he’s a heart and soul type of guy, and you have to bail him out.

“We didn’t do it. They got into the zone too easy and once you’re in the zone in the NHL, it became a bit of a shooting gallery and we need better execution than that.”

The four power plays allowed were the most allowed by the Red Wings in a regular season game since Jan. 19, 2013, when the Blues scored four times with the man advantage.

It was the most power play goals allowed in one period by the Red Wings since Jan. 4, 2007 at San Jose, when the Sharks scored four goals on the power play in the third period, in a 9-4 Sharks victory.

The Islanders created momentum earlier in the period, cutting the Red Wings’ lead to 3-2 - lost it when the Red Wings scored twice - but regained it after the first power play goal, scored by Brock Nelson (who had three goals, including the game-winner in overtime).


“There were feeling a little bit better about themselves when they scored that second one, even started to get on a little roll,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “During that penalty, you’re scoring those goals and they (start to) believe in themselves.

“We couldn’t really pull it off (to stop it).”


Bertuzzi was quick to accept blame for the slashing penalty against Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck, and the turning point in the game.

But Blashill and teammates were equally quick to suggest the penalty should have probably been a two-minute minor, rather than the five-minute variety.

“It better really be serious if you’re going to call a five-minute on that,” Zetterberg said. “That’s a tough call, even though we probably should have figured out how to kill it a little better.”

Blashill felt Bertuzzi will learn from this experience.

“You can’t take a retaliatory penalty, it was unnecessary,” Blashill said. “The game’s over, we’ve taken their life away, and then we gave them life. Obviously, the initial thing goes to Clutterbuck, Tyler reacts to that and he’s got to learn to just keep skating to the bench and not react to it.

“Clutterbuck is a veteran player and he does a good job selling the call and they called it. What we can control is our actions and you can’t take a penalty at that point.”

Bertuzzi didn’t feel the penalty warranted the major penalty.

“It was more or less sticking up for myself and not taking stuff from anyone. A young guy in the league, in the heat of the moment, obviously I regret it,” Bertuzzi said. “But in the end of the day, I don’t think it was a five-minute penalty.

“A five-minute penalty, they score four goals, and I’m just sitting in here watching on the TV. It stinks.”


Zetterberg’s goal Friday was his first in 16 games. His last goal was Dec. 29 against the New  York Rangers.

Zetterberg also had three assists Friday, including finding Mike Green for the game-tying goal with 29 seconds left in regulation time.

… Anthony Mantha’s two goals gave him a team-leading 18, and gave Mantha three points (all goals) in his last 10 games.


Faceoff: 3 p.m., Sunday, Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Capitals (32-17-5, 69 points) lead the Metropolitan Division but have only won five of their last 10 games (5-3-2)…LW Alex Ovechkin is having another stellar season (32 goals, 58 points), and C Evgeny Kuznetsov (37 assists) is close behind.