Three-goal hole too much, Red Wings lose 4-2 to Jets

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Winnipeg, Manitoba —  The Red Wings put themselves in a nasty predicament early Friday and could never get out of it.

Winnipeg took advantage of the gifts for a three-goal lead, and held on for a 4-2 victory at Bell MTS Place.

Jets forward Kyle Connor (Clinton Township) scored into an empty net with 59.5 seconds left to clinch it.

BOX SCORE: Jets 4, Red Wings 2

The Wings allowed a goal 13 seconds into the game (Brandon Tanev) and with 4 seconds left in the first period (Blake Wheeler) — Winnipeg’s Bryan Little shot took a bad bounce past goalie Jonathan Bernier in the second period — forcing a team that’s had difficulty winning to rally from a huge deficit.

And the Wings could not.

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“Especially a group that hasn’t won a lot lately, it’s tough to fight from behind,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We have to continue to go out and do things right and try to build that confidence up. It’s tough in this league to play from behind. We just have to find a way to keep pucks out of our net as much as we can.”

Dennis Cholowski (power play) and Luke Glendening (shorthanded) scored for the Wings, as their special teams continued to excel on the road (something they haven’t done at home).

The losses continue to pile up for the Wings (16-23-7), who have won only two games in the last 15 games (2-10-3).

Only two teams — Philadelphia (38) and Los Angeles (37) — have fewer points than the Wings right now.

“It’s not easy losing as much as we have, but you can’t lose the team and the culture that this locker room has had for so long here, and doing things the right way,” Glendening said. “There’s a great leadership group that we have here and they’ve been on top and where we are right now, and it keeps the guys going and motivated and kudos to them for that. 

“It’s not easy.”

Cholowski’s power-play goal at 6:50 of the third period cut Winnipeg’s lead to 3-2, but the Wings couldn’t get the tying goal despite a breakaway attempt by Andreas Athanasiou and a late power play.

Again, overcoming the early goals proved too much.

“We have to make sure we’re doing a better job of making teams earn their goals,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “This is a real good team (Winnipeg), and we did a good job overall of limiting their chances but you can’t play from behind that way on the road.

“We did a lot of good stuff. But you can’t give away goals like we gave away goals and you give the three (goals) up — it’s hard to outscore those. We have to be tighter right off the bat.”

Bernier stopped 23 shots but again was victimized by leaky defense and unfortunate luck.

“Bernie played good, he’s had a tough (time) in terms of bounces,” Blashill said. “That finds a way to evening out. He just has to stay with it, like our team. He has to stay mentally tough and it’s a hard challenge.”

Twitter: @tkulfan