A lot of teams have given the Red Wings problems this season, but you can single Montreal as a specific thorn.
The Canadiens completed a four-game season sweep Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over the Wings in Montreal. With the loss, the Wings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season.
Andreas Athanasiou scored an early third-period goal, giving the Wings some spark late. But Montreal goaltender Carey Price was superb on a milestone evening for him, and Max Domi scored his second of the game, an empty netter with 48 seconds left, to clinch the victory.
Twice this season, the Canadiens (who've beaten the Wings in the last nine games overall) embarrassed Detroit with lopsided routs. This game, though, wasn’t like that at all.
And that was a positive step for the Wings, who were coming off an discouraging weekend with two losses in Florida (Sunday’s loss to the Panthers especially nauseating).
Price stopped 20 shots, becoming the Canadiens’ all-time wins leader (315, moving past Jacques Plante) keeping Montreal (37-26-7) squarely in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Price made an outstanding save on a Tyler Bertuzzi breakaway with 12 minutes left in the game, then denied Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek on rebounds, preserving Montreal's one-goal lead.
The Wings (24-36-10) have lost 11 of their last 12 games.
Domi and Brett Kulak scored late second-period goals to open the scoring.
Both teams failed to convert on two power plays.
► Detroit's goal: Athanasiou scored his 24th goal at 40 seconds of third period, cutting Montreal’s lead to 2-1. Niklas Kronwall found Athanasiou in stride, and Athanasiou snapped a shot from the hash marks through Price.
► Larkin out: Dylan Larkin missed his fourth consecutive game because a neck strain. Coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after the morning skate Larkin won’t play until he’s pain-free and has full motion. Larkin saw a specialist Monday, confirming the injury was nothing more than a strain. Larkin is considered day-to-day, though he won't play Thursday.
► Price vs. Bernier: Price improved to 15-4-1 in his career against the Wings with another impressive outing. Price didn’t face much work, but was poised and efficient, as usual, when tested. Bernier was just as good. Bernier stopped 33 shots, but as has often been the case this season, still wasn’t enough to help the Wings into the win column. Bernier, incidentally, has only beaten Montreal once in 15 decisions against the Canadiens (1-11-3).
► Zadina watch: The Red Wings’ draft pick told reporters on draft night he’d fill the net of teams who passed on him — Montreal being one of them. But Zadina went scoreless in his first game against the Canadiens, with one shot, and a minus-1 rating, in 16:11 of ice time.
► Montreal’s goals: Domi opened the scoring, skating to the net and redirecting a pass from Andrew Shaw to the front of the net. It was Domi’s 23rd goal, at 12:27. Kulak extended the lead to 2-0 at 17:32 with his fourth goal, one-timing a setup by Tomas Tatar (who had two assists against his former Wings’ teammates). Domi clinched the game with an empty-net goal.
► Ericsson’s out: The Red Wings lost defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in the first period with what the team announced was a lower body injury. Ericsson appeared to hurt his right knee along the boards during a Wings’ penalty kill — it bent awkwardly as he fell during a collision — and needed to be helped off the ice.
► Battle for the worst: The Wings (24-36-10) stayed six points above Ottawa for the NHL’s worst record.
► Next: The Wings return home Thursday to play the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m./FSD,97.1).