Detroit — Bert and Ernie scored for the Red Wings Tuesday, but it was the Columbus Blue Jackets who played the role of Oscar the Grouch.
Specifically Columbus forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, who broke a tie early in the third period and sent the Jackets to a 5-3 victory.
Tyler Bertuzzi had a power-play goal and Adam Erne scored his first two goals as a Red Wing, but it wasn’t enough.
That’s two consecutive losses for the Wings, who had righted their ship ever so slightly last week with two straight wins.
The holiday break next week can’t come quickly enough.
Maybe the time off next week will re-energize the Wings, many of whom didn’t impress coach Jeff Blashill against the Blue Jackets.
“We have some guys in our room who’ve been real good players for us and they have to rise their game up to be way better,” Blashill said. “There are a number of guys, we got talent spread throughout the lineup that weren’t nearly good enough. Certainly the guys who get a lot of ice time can be way better.”
The Wings have been affected by a flu bug that’s gone around the locker room, and was a factor in a listless 4-2 loss Sunday to Los Angeles.
But Blashill wouldn’t use that as an excuse against Columbus.
“Guys felt better, that’s all bull---- on that,” Blashill said. “Sunday, honest to God, we had no energy. Tonight, that’s bull----. You have guys who are real good players, didn’t play real good. Your best players have to play way better than that.”
Forwards Andreas Athanasiou (12 minutes, 54 seconds, two shots), Bertuzzi (21:38, two shots, one goal), Dylan Larkin (23:59, minus-3, three giveaways), Robby Fabbri (17:02, minus-2, one shot), Anthony Mantha (19:27, minus-3, no shots, two giveaways), and Filip Zadina (12:51, one shot, four giveaways) all had mixed results, at best.
Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Kevin Stenlund (power play) had the other Blue Jackets goals.
Dubois broke a 3-3 tie at 1:19 of the third period, his 11th goal.
Dubois rushed the puck down the ice on a 2-on-2 rush, and in the slot, got off a shot that beat goaltender Jonathan Bernier glove side.
“I have to find a way to make that fourth save and keep the game 3-3 there,” Bernier said.
Nyquist played his first game in Detroit since being dealt at the trade deadline last season to San Jose — he’s faced them once each in San Jose and Columbus — and set up Bjorkstrand with a nifty, behind-the-back reverse pass to put Columbus ahead 2-1 in the first period, then ended the scoring with an empty-net goal with 7 seconds left.
But early on, for the Wings, it was all about Erne.
Acquired from Tampa last summer, Erne was expected to be a net-front presence, a player with some size and grit who could contribute to the Wings in a variety of ways.
The goals Tuesday were the first two points of the season for Erne in his 28th game.
“It took a while but I’m just happy to get it,” Erne said. “’I’m disappointed we couldn’t come away with the win.”
The Wings fell to 9-24-3, and again are in the midst of a losing streak, albeit a small one, they'll need to erase quickly before it snowballs further — as has happened twice this season (eight- and 12-game losing streaks).
“It’s frustrating for sure,” Blashill said. “We said after the last game we don’t want this thing to snowball. We better show up against Toronto (Saturday) and have a great effort.
“Some of our best players have to be way better than they were.”