Punchless Red Wings blanked by Hurricanes, winless streak at six
Detroit — The Red Wings, with the lowest goals per game average in the NHL and the least amount of victories, didn't get either Sunday night, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0 at Little Caesars Arena.
It extends the Wings' winless streak to six games and their league-worst home record to 4-7-1.
"We didn't get out of our end," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They forecheck hard and we knew that. I thought we bogged ourselves down. After we killed that penalty in the second period we just couldn't get out of our own end.
"And when you've got to defend like that on a back-to-back it's way harder. You end up playing a bunch of defense and defense is harder to play."
Here are numbers that don't generally equate to winning hockey games: 19 shots on goal, 25 giveaways.
"Without a doubt, when you play that team, you are going to have some turnovers," Blashill said. "Because they pressure hard."
The Wings didn’t have a single power-play chance until the final two minutes, that’s how little pressure they applied in the Canes’ zone, and their best two scoring chances came on short-handed breakaways, both snuffed by Carolina's backup goalie James Reimer.
“They have big 'D' over there that make it hard to get in the zone, get set up," said Dylan Larkin, who was limited to one shot with four turnovers. "We didn’t have an answer for that. They’re a good team over there, they work really hard, they’re disciplined. I think they move their feet better than any team in the league.
"They made it really hard on us and we didn’t have the push-back there at the end of the game to get enough shots, generate enough to win the game."
The Red Wings ended up being outshot 36-19. They managed eight shots in the final two periods.
"We are searching for it," Blashill said. "We need to be better driving the middle and we have to be better shooting the puck. I thought we had opportunities to put more shots at the net.
"You are right, we had eight shots (in the final two periods) but some of that is choice. It's not like we weren't in their end at all. We chose not to shoot enough pucks. We've got to start shooting and get more people at the net and have a simpler approach."
The stellar play of goalie Jimmy Howard was the only reason the game was close.
"That’s the type of game I need to play every single night for the guys," Howard said. "It’s been far and few between for me this year and it’s a good building block for me."
With 3:06 left and the Wings down 1-0, Blashill pulled Howard to get an extra skater. Then, with 2:27 left, the Canes' Nino Niederreiter was sent to the penalty box for hooking.
The Wings' first power play of the game was a two-man advantage. But they didn't even get a shot before Teuvo Teravainen scored an empty-net goal, after Sebastian Aho stole the puck.
"Just gotta keep pushing," Howard said. "It’s frustrating. It’s difficult, but you have to find a way mentally to come here every single day in a positive mind frame. Find a way to be eager to get on the ice and to want to improve."
The first goal came on a bad bounce, one reminiscent of the old barn at Joe Louis Arena
Andrei Svechnikov fired a shot wide of the Red Wings net. He might’ve been trying to hit Teravainen with a pass, but the puck caromed hot off the lively backboards, just like it used to at the old arena, right into the crease.
Howard lost the puck in his skates just long enough to allow Aho to bang in his 12th goal of the season, putting the Canes on the board with 9:23 left.
"I felt like if I would have pushed into the post, I probably could’ve knocked it in myself," Howard said. "So I tried to just squeeze it against me.
Both teams, playing on back-to-back nights and for the third time in four, showed the effects of that grind throughout the game, especially in a scrambly first period.
Howard came up big making 13 saves, several set up by nine giveaways by the Wings.
Darren Helm had three Grade-A chances in the first period, including a short-handed breakaway that he shoved into the pads of Reimer. Frans Nielsen had a partial breakaway while the Wings were short-handed in the second period.
Filip Zadina, the Wings first-round pick (sixth overall) in 2018 who was called up from Grand Rapids earlier Sunday to fill in for injured goals leader Anthony Mantha (lower body), started the game on the second line.
He set up quality scoring chances for both his linemates Helm and Valtteri Filppula in the first period.
But he was playing his third game in three nights, the first two with Grand Rapids, and his ice time dwindled in the third period.
So did the Wings' scoring chances as the game went on. It was clear Mantha was missed.
“Definitely at the end there, his big shot," Larkin said. "We didn’t have an offensive spark tonight and Anthony, he’s been our best offensive player this year and is dangerous every time he’s on the ice. So we missed him.
"But that can’t be something that we start to look at here as we don’t really know what his situation is like right now. We have to find ways, we have to find answers within our lineup right now. We have to do it fast with a lot of games coming here.”