Justin Abdelkader talks about what the Wings have to do to stop their six-game losing streak following Wednesday's 5-2 loss in Ottawa. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Kanata, Ontario — If not completely off the rails, there’s maybe one wheel, possibly two, going dangerously off-kilter.
The Red Wings are on a lengthy losing streak early in the season, and it’s showing no signs of ending.
You’d think Wednesday’s game in Ottawa would be a perfect tonic, with the Senators coming into the game with the NHL’s worst record (1-6-1).
But you’d be wrong.
The Wings looked like the weaker team most of the evening, and lost 5-2.
That stretches the Wings’ losing streak to six games, with three tough teams (Buffalo, Stanley Cup champion St. Louis and Edmonton) about to visit Little Caesars Arena.
Fun times, indeed.
“We have to figure it out real soon or it’s going to be another long season again,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “We have to find a way to put a streak together now. We have to start on Friday (against Buffalo), we have to do it one at a time, but we are getting to where we have to win, now.”
The team defense, and allowing goals at a rate they can't match with a largely anemic offense, is continuing to devastate the Wings.
During this six-game losing streak, the Wings (3-7-0) have been outscored 27-9. In five of the six losses, the Wings have given up five goals.
For a team struggling to produce offense, as the Wings are, that is not a recipe for success by any stretch.
“We’re not a team that gives up four or five goals on a nightly basis and win,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “If we don’t do it the right way, we give up four or five goals a night and that’s not a winning recipe.
“Everyone is frustrated in here, but we have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We’re the only ones that are going to get us out of this hole.”
The Wings weren’t tight defensively for most of the game, and it ultimately cost them.
“You press and press and press and as a result you play worse and that’s what happened for sure tonight,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Tonight was the worst defensively we’ve played in a while. I don’t want to take anything away from Ottawa, they played hard. But we were loose (defensively).
“When you try so hard, you play a little bit dumb at times and give up chances you can’t afford to give up.”
Darren Helm and Tyler Bertuzzi scored 1 minute, 40 seconds apart to open the second period and give the Wings a brief 2-1 lead. But that would be the only offensive highlights for the evening.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves.
Chris Tierney, Mark Borowiecki, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (shorthanded) and Anthony Duclair had Ottawa goals. Duclair scored twice, including an empty-net goal to put away the victory.
Special teams, as has been most of this opening 10-game block to open the season, again was a negative issue for the Wings.
They were 0-for-5 on the power play, and allowed Pageau’s shorthanded goal that broke a 2-2 tie at 5:27 of the second period.
Borowiecki (at 3:15 mark, his first goal) and Pageau (third goal) both beat Bernier with long shots from near the top of the circle off the rush, and negated the Wings’ explosive second-period start.
“We came out and had some good zone time and got two goals and threw it right away again,” Nielsen said.
The news gets worse for the Wings.
They lost Luke Glendening in the second period to a left hand injury, to which Blashill said Glendening “is going to be out for a little bit.”
Blashill will know about the length of time Glendening will miss by Friday’s morning skate.
Abdelkader took a shot to the leg in the third period but returned to the game, and the Wings were also without defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who was injured during Tuesday's loss against Vancouver.