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St. Paul, Minn. — Things you can count on these days — taxes, potholes, and the Red Wings losing by a goal.

It’s become a strange trend of late.

The Red Wings have lost five of their last seven games — and sure enough, all five of those losses have been by a goal.

The latest excruciating loss was Friday’s 4-3 loss to Winnipeg. And that was 48 hours after they lost 3-2 in St. Louis.

The script was similar in both losses.

Friday, the Red Wings simply couldn’t put three periods together, this time, the middle 20 minutes being when the game got away from them.

“We’re not consistent enough,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “In the first we played well and they get those two goals (going ahead 2-1). We can talk about those but overall we did a lot of good things.

“If we had kept doing that in the second (period), we would be in a different situation (heading into the final period).”

This season the Red Wings are 9-10-10 in games decided by one goal.

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It’s one of the reasons why we are where we’re at.

“We started out pretty good, we came out with a lot of energy. Then we made some mistakes in our own zone that cost us.

“In the second (period), for whatever reason, we didn’t want the puck. We made it way too hard on ourselves. It’s tough when you dig yourself a hole like that.”

When asked if he senses his team is getting frustrated by the recent tough defeats, coach Jeff Blashill said there’s no time for that.

Blashill feels the Red Wings’ resiliency and ability to get back up after a difficult loss has been a strength.

But, without question, there’s a need to clean up the overall game.

“We had too many unforced errors (Friday), mistakes on goals where we didn’t need to,” Blashill said. “They had a lot to do with it, they’re a good team. But in the first (period) we were playing good, scored the first goal, then we gave away two goals.

“We have to be way better defensively. We have to make teams earn way more than they did on those two goals.”

Red Wings schedule

More is expected

Anthony Mantha ended a five-game goal-scoring drought Friday, converting a great feed from Gustav Nyquist to score goal No. 21 for the season, his first since Feb. 18.

But Blashill wants to see more out of Mantha, who hasn’t been as skating aggressively as he did for most of February.

“Anthony’s been better than that, to be honest with you,” Blashill said Friday. “He was good, but he went through a stretch for about two weeks where he was great, and really moving his feet, bending his knees.

“He’s gone away from it here the last couple of games. He has to get back to making sure (he bends his knees). When Anthony bends his knees and skates, and I know it sounds simplistic but that’s the reality, then he’s a really good player.

“He has to make sure to get back to doing that consistently.”

Ice chips

Jonathan Ericsson (illness) missed Friday’s game and his status for Sunday was uncertain. The Red Wings didn’t practice Saturday.

… After Friday’s loss the Red Wings are 1-23-4 when trailing after two periods, and 2-16-3 when trailing after the first period.

Red Wings at Wild

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Sunday, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.

TV/radio: NBCSN/WXYT 97.1

Outlook: The Wild (36-22-7, 75 points) have lost their last two games, after having won five consecutive games. … These teams havne’t met since Opening Night, when the Red Wings won 4-2. … Wild C Eric Staal (33 goals, 31 assists) is having a superb season.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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