Red Wings' strong effort can't stop winless streak from reaching nine

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It's nine straight games without a win now for the Red Wings. The Washington Capitals' 5-2 win at Little Caesars Arena Saturday was the club's seventh straight loss in regulation. 

They've been outscored  24-4 in the last five.

So, forgive Dylan Larkin if he vented a bit after Alex Ovechkin finished his hat trick Saturday with his second empty-net goal in the final 95 seconds of the game. On the last one, Ovechkin stole the puck from Larkin at center ice and Larkin slammed him to the ice after he slid the puck in the net.

"Just frustrated; that last goal was my fault," Larkin said. "Just built up, I guess. I didn't mean to take out Ovechkin there. He just happened to be there."

Luke Glendening had cut the Capitals lead to 3-2, firing a shot from the slot past goalie Ilya Samsonov, who was screened by Larkin. There was 5:28 left and the Wings were carrying the play.

Coach Jeff Blashill pulled goalie Jonathan Bernier with less than two minutes left in the game. Ovechkin scored twice in 40 seconds — giving him 20 goals on the year.

"It's snowballed already," Blashill said of the Wings' current skid. "We've gone a long stretch without winning a hockey game. As coaches, we have to focus on the reality of how you're playing."

And other than the clunker against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, the Wings have played competitive hockey, just not winning hockey.

"We've got to make sure they fight through the emotion of it," Blashill said. "You tell them what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. I thought we've been doing a lot of good things, but through this stretch we haven't been playing good enough."

Larkin ended a seven-game pointless streak with an assist on the first goal of the game — a rare power play goal by Robbi Fabbri in the first period.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski (21) checks Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20).

“We're putting in good effort," said Fabbri, who has scored two of the four goals the Wings have mustered the last five games. "But we don't play the same way for the full 60 (minutes) and it shows in the score.

"We have flashes of being a good team. I strongly believe that we are. We're just going through a tough stretch here."

BOX SCORE: Capitals 5, Red Wings 2

Fabbri's power play goal was the Wings' first in 19 chances going back nine games. But they were 1-for-4 on the night. On two of three they registered just one shot.

"I don't know if we registered a second in the zone after the puck was dropped," Blashill said. "You don't get in the zone you aren't going to generate anything. We had a real hard time getting the puck in the zone."

The Capitals scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second period to wrest control of the game. T.J. Oshie tied it with a power-play goal 2:19 in. With Larkin in the box for hooking, Oshie was the beneficiary of a pretty passing play between Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov, that after Wings defenseman Dylan McIlrath failed to clear the puck up the boards.

Ovechkin scored seven minutes later. He skated the puck around the net. Wings defenseman Filip Hronek was screened off the play by John Karlson, which allowed Ovechkin room to skate out in front and rip a shot past a sprawling Jonathan Bernier.

"I thought we were good in the first period and the third period," Blashill said. "The second period wasn't very good."

The Red Wings' best chance to tie the score came early in the third. Valtteri Filppula first deflected a bouncing puck off the crossbar. The puck bounced back in front but before Filppula could knock it into the open net, Carlson swept the puck out of harm's way.

Later in the third, with seven minutes left, Luke Glendening set up Tyler Bertuzzi in front of the net, but Samsonov held his ground. 

Two minutes later, the teams exchanged goals nine seconds apart.

First Capitals forward Tom Wilson sped down the right boards, past defenseman Patrik Nemeth and beat Bernier to make it 3-1 at 14:23.

"I felt like we were coming before Wilson scored," Larkin said. "But Glenny's goal was huge."

Glendening answered nine seconds later, his fourth of the season, but the Wings never threatened the Capitals zone after Bernier was pulled.

"Our power play isn't nearly good enough, but we didn't quit," Larkin said. "We can't keep waiting until the last minute to score goals, until there's two or three minutes left and pull the goalie. That's not the game we want to be playing there.

"I like our effort. I thought it was a good response from last night (loss in Philadelphia), but obviously there's some frustration."

Twitter: @cmccosky