Detroit — Many Red Wings fans will be happy with Thursday’s result, as the team finally got a hang of this “tanking” thing.
The Red Wings finally got back into the loss column with a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, presumably pleasing some fans who are eyeing a better draft position.
The Red Wings (30-39-12) now have a one-point lead on Montreal (71 points), and could dip below the 26th overall spot they’re in now, depending on how results go these final two days of the regular season.
But for the current Wings players, it’s consistently been about trying to win.
And Thursday, too many critical turnovers prevented them from doing so.
“We made three big mistakes,” said coach Jeff Blashill, talking about three turnovers that led to odd-man rushes against goalie Jared Coreau. “We were playing good hockey, and it’s a 2-on-0 (rush) and playing good hockey and it’s a 2-on-1 (rush). You give up the fourth one there (on a 3-on-1).
“I didn’t think we gave up a whole bunch other than that (but) you made those three big mistakes.”
Montreal took a 3-2 lead into the third period and made it a two-goal game on Artturi Lehkonen’s 12th goal at 2:24 after Niklas Kronwall fell down, leading to a 3-on-1 Canadiens rush.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about the development of Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Darren Helm cut the deficit to 4-3 at 3:09, Helm’s 13th goal, breathing life into a ho-hum Little Caesars Arena crowd.
But the Canadiens and goalie Antti Niemi (23 saves) were steady in the final minutes, and the Red Wings went home with their second consecutive loss.
“Our response was good, we responded well the whole night,” said Dylan Larkin, who opened the Wings’ scoring. “I didn’t think we got to the net enough and didn’t get enough chances in the slot or the middle of the ice.
“We let Jared out to the dry. A 2-on-0, a 3-on-1, he battles for us and we should battle for him more.”
Tyler Bertuzzi, who was one of the best Wings during the game, had the other Wings goal.
Nicolas Deslauriers had two goals and Brendan Gallagher the other for Montreal.
It was Gallagher and Deslauriers who scored three minutes apart in the second period, erasing a 2-1 Wings lead.
Gallagher tied it 2-2 with his 31st goal on a 2-on-0 rush.
Tyler Bertuzzi talks after the Red Wings' loss to the Canadiens on Thursday. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Anthony Mantha’s attempted pass at the Montreal blue line went directly onto the stick of Jonathan Drouin, leading the break.
Drouin carried the puck into the zone, froze Coreau, and fed Gallagher, who deposited the tying goal at 11:39.
Montreal quickly went ahead on Deslauriers’ second goal of the game.
Frans Nielsen couldn’t control the puck along the boards and that led to Deslauriers leading the break on a 2-on-1 rush the other way.
Deslauriers took the puck down the ice, stopped at the dot, and beat Coreau through the legs for his 10th goal, at 14:39.
“It was fairly even, we had our chances and they had chances,” Coreau said.
Bertuzzi had a team-high five shots, was plus-1, and was credited with two blocked shots in just under 20 minutes.
His goal, Bertuzzi’s 7th, was his fifth in the last seven games.
“Bert’s game in totality was excellent,” Blashill said. “He’s a hockey player, he’s a real piece. He’s a great complementary guy for a guy like Z(etterberg). That’s a great draft pick by our scouts, and he’s going to be a heckuva Red Wing here.”