'Step backward'; Wings' woes mount in loss to Canadiens

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Montreal — The last time the Red Wings played here, the result was as ugly and embarrassing as it could get.

Monday it wasn’t as bad — but they still lost to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, just not as shockingly.
Considering the Red Wings lost by nine goals when they were here in December (10-1), this was much more competitive — at least on the scoreboard.

BOX SCORE: Canadiens 4, Red Wings 2

As bad as the results have been for the Red Wings lately, they’ve maintained a positive work ethic. Not the case Monday, though, according to coach Jeff Blashill.

“Way too many passengers,” Blashill said. “We need way more, that’s not even close to good enough.
“We’ve been real good through this stretch, we’ve played real good hockey and deserved better results. No chance there tonight. No chance is that good enough. We have to be way better.”

In too many facets, Blashill wasn’t satisfied.

“Our attention to detail wasn’t good enough, our intensity wasn’t good enough, winning puck battles,”

Blashill said. “Doing all the little things. Just too many guys not going.”

Captain Henrik Zetterberg saw it in a similar way.

More: Wings’ Ouellet feels at home back in Montreal

“We took a step backward,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve been having real good efforts lately, coming out and everyone buying into what we were supposed to do.

“(But) it wasn’t that good overall tonight.”

How bad has it been for the Red Wings lately? They’ve won once in the last 14 games (1-12-1).

“It’s not easy,” Zetterberg said. “But there’s nothing else we can do but prepare ourselves for the next game.”

At least the Red Wings’ odds for a better draft pick are improving, which many fans consider a positive with all this losing.

The Red Wings (27-38-11, 65 points) are three points behind Montreal (28-37-12, 68 points), which has gravitated above the mess.

But there are three teams between the Red Wings and last place Buffalo (60 points), who has the worst record and the best odds of winning the draft lottery and gaining the first pick overall.

But the Red Wings have six games to better those odds.

More: Will Red Wings make run at better pick? No tanks

Gustav Nyquist (his 20th goal) and Tyler Bertuzzi had Red Wings goals, while Brendan Gallagher had two Montreal goals, giving him 30 for the season, and Paul Byron and Alex Galchenyuk both added Canadiens power play goals.

Galchenyuk’s 18th goal at 15 minutes, 34 seconds of the third period, tapping in a loose puck in the crease, gave Montreal a 4-2 lead.

Goalie Jared Coreau lost his fourth consecutive decision, making stopping 27 shots, but not good enough to beat Montreal goalie Carey Price (26 saves).

“Not good enough,” said Blashill of Coreau’s game. “He has to be better than that, it’s just the reality of it. In this league in order to win you have to have a 91 percent save percentage on a consistent basis, to win it has to be higher, and he has to be better.

“I just think he has to get his confidence back. The puck was bouncing off him a lot tonight. At the end of the night, it’s a results-oriented position and you have to get results.”

It’s the third Montreal goal that’ll keep Coreau in the highlight packages for a while — not that Coreau will enjoy it.

Gallagher tipped Mike Reilly’s shot from the top of the slot and Coreau couldn’t control it. The puck wound up behind Coreau — he didn’t exactly know it was there — fell on his back to cover it, but when he did so Coreau inadvertently knocked the puck into the net, giving Montreal a 3-1 lead.

One positive was the heart of Bertuzzi, who late in the game went after Montreal’s Charles Hudon after Hudon upended Zetterberg in the corner, taking out Zetterberg’s legs.

Danny DeKeyser went after Hudon, but it was Bertuzzi who tracked down Hudon and tried to get justice.

“It was a dirty hit and I tried to step in there,” Bertuzzi said. “Especially for Z, our captain and leader. I just wanted to get in there and I got him.”

Blashill, who called Hudon’s hit “totally unnecessary, 100 percent,” was pleased to see that kind of action from Bertuzzi.

“That’s what you do, you stick up for each other,” Blashill said. “Zetterberg is a guy everyone has a ton of respect for and our guys have done a good job of sticking up for each other.

“Tyler did a good job in that instance.”

Hicketts recalled

After Monday’s game, the Red Wings recalled defenseman Joe Hicketts from Grand Rapids.

Hicketts has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in 63 games with the Griffins.

Hicketts, 21, an undrafted free agent, made his NHL debut Jan. 22 in New Jersey, blocking three shots and recording one hit in 15 minutes of playing time.