Red Wings lose Howard, game in rough night in Philadelphia

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jonathan Bernier was named a last-minute replacement for goalie Jimmy Howard.

Philadelphia — The news was discouraging for the Detroit Red Wings before the game and didn’t get better as the evening unfolded. 

The Red Wings lost goaltender Jimmy Howard in pregame warm-ups, then pretty much lost every other aspect of their game Tuesday, in a 3-2 setback against the Philadelphia Flyers.

In a season that is suddenly getting ugly again, the Wings didn’t show much in this loss.

“We had guys with their ‘B’ and ‘C’ games, not even close to enough with their ‘A’ games,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When you’re shorthanded (with available players), guys have to rise to the occasion and play their ‘A’ games on a nightly basis and it wasn’t even close.

“Whether handling the puck, or execution, or turnovers, or poor defensive zone coverage, as a group were slow in the D-zone. Guys have to rise up and play better than they did.”

Howard injured his back, which forced Jonathan Bernier to get the start. Blashill said Howard will get checked out Wednesday, and the Wings will determine whether to call up a goaltender from Grand Rapids.

“He had issues in warm-ups and couldn’t dress, couldn’t play,” Blashill said. “We’ll see how he is (Wednesday). We’re trying to find a goalie for practice (Wednesday in Raleigh, ahead of Thursday's game against Carolina).

“I would call it day-to-day. I don’t think it’s anything bigger than that. I would call it day-to-day.”

Needing a healthy backup for this game, the Wings picked up Justin Kowalkoski, who is the Flyers’ emergency goalie. Kowalkoski, 34, played four years of college hockey at Colgate (2004-08) and currently plays up to three games a week in a beer league.

Kowalkoski is a geologist at Roux Company and dressed for the Pittsburgh Penguins last year in a similar situation but didn’t get into the game.

He didn’t get into this one, either, but watched a Wings team that didn’t put nearly enough pressure for most of the night against Carter Hart, who was making his NHL debut.

Hart only saw 22 shots, a rather easy evening.

“You want to take advantage of that as much as you can and make sure it’s hard for him,” said Niklas Kronwall of Hart. “Pucks to the net, more traffic. I don’t think we did enough of that.”

Dennis Cholowski (power play) and Jacob de la Rose scored for the Wings, who are winless in four games (0-3-1) and have only won twice in the last nine games (2-5-2).

The Wings dropped to 14-16-5 (33 points), while the Flyers (13-15-4, 30 points) ended a four-game winless streak.

Some key injuries — Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Anthony Mantha, Darren Helm — have hurt, but in their absences, other players aren’t stepping up.

Michael Rasmussen hasn’t scored in 15 games, Andreas Athanasiou hasn’t scored in 10 games, Thomas Vanek has one goal in 10 games, Frans Nielsen one goal in his last seven games, Tyler Bertuzzi hasn’t scored in seven games. Martin Frk has one goal for the season.

“We need a lot more from a number of guys,” Blashill said. “Again, when you are missing some guys, others have to rise up and be way better. They weren’t (Tuesday).”

The Wings cut the lead to 3-2 on de la Rose’s second goal, at the 2:00 mark of the third period.

But the Wings were again way too passive, only generating eight shots at Hart in the third period, and never coming close to tying the score.

“It’s his first game, in the highest league, you want to get pucks to the net and get bodies to the net,” Cholowski said. “We didn’t do that enough.”

James van Riemsdyk, Radko Gudas, and Shayne Gostisbehere had Flyers goals.

Twitter @tkulfan