Second-period letdown costs Red Wings in loss to lowly Senators
Detroit — The Red Wings played one bad period Tuesday and that was enough to hang another loss.
Now, one period, sometimes, isn’t going to cost a hockey team. There are 40 other minutes to rally or outplay the opponent.
But this second period was a little different. Ottawa scored three times, the Red Wings fell into too big of a deficit, and the Senators defeated the Red Wings, 4-3, at Little Caesars Arena.
So much for the optimism from a decent three-game West Coast swing, earning four of possible six points.
The Wings (7-13-3) saw their five-game point streak come to an abrupt end, and with Minnesota defeating Buffalo, moved back to the absolute bottom — 31st of 31 teams — in the overall NHL standings.
“When the momentum went the other way, we were terrible in the second,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We played good in the third, but it was too late. You can’t come out and have that period in the second.”
Ottawa erased the Wings' 2-1 lead, took a 4-2 lead, and held on the final 20 minutes.
“We took our foot off the gas there, it’s kind of been like that a few games,” said Robby Fabbri, who continued his impressive play with his third goal in six games. “We’ve been lucky enough to battle back, but we just have to keep the foot on the gas from the start of the game until the finish.”
Anthony Mantha scored his 12th goal, with goalie Jonathan Bernier pulled for the extra skater, at 17 minutes, 14 seconds in the third period, cutting the lead to 4-3 and creating hope at LCA.
But that turned out to be the last great offensive chance the Wings had.
Fabbri and Valtteri Filppula (shorthanded) gave the Wings a 2-1 lead after one period before the Senators took the game over.
“We’ve been playing pretty well of late but that second period wasn’t good enough,” Filppula said. “We spent too much time in our zone.”
Bernier didn’t get much help defensively, while making 29 stops. Ottawa’s Anders Nilsson made 35 saves, including a timely stop on Frans Nielsen — yes, Nilsson on Nielsen — on a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush that could have sliced Ottawa’s lead to 4-3 late in the second period.
Anthony Duclair scored twice, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk had the other Ottawa goals.
“We have to get our legs going and find confidence in our game,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We did in the first and had big goals, and in the second we came out real slow and let them gain momentum.”
Ottawa (9-11-1) has quietly won seven of its last 11 games and has been much better than many analysts had expected.
The game started to turn in the second period when Duclair got his ninth goal, and second of the evening, at the 5 minute mark.
Duclair received a pass from Logan Brown coming down the wing, glided around Mike Green and snapped a shot past Bernier, tying the game.
Just 57 seconds later, the Senators broke the tie.
With the teams skating four skaters per side, Pageau intercepted a Larkin pass intended for Dennis Cholowski at the point. Pageau broke in alone, and slipped his 12th goal of the season past Bernier.
The Senators completed the barrage with Tkachuk’s seventh goal at the 10:22 mark.
Duclair had the puck in the corner and found Tkachuk driving to the net, past Cholowski, and banged a shot past Bernier.
Cholowski wound up minus-3 on the night, but the entire Wings defense wasn’t particularly effective.
“What’s funny is, in the first period, he (Cholowski) was excellent, assertive with the puck, moving with the puck,” Blashill said. “He had a tough second period. He has to come out the next game and play great, that’s the reality of it. You’re going to have nights and periods like that, it has to be water under the bridge.
“(On defense), we got super slow with the puck as the game went along. Our back end had a tough night. Our whole D (defense) corps didn’t move its feet as the game went along. We have to move our feet way more.
“Those guys want to play, so if you want to play, there’s your opportunity, play better than you did.”
The Wings lost Darren Helm after the second period to a lower body injury and Green in the third period to an upper body injury.
Blashill said he’d have further information on the two players’ availability Wednesday after practice.