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'We played stupid': Red Wings limp into break on 6-game skid after loss to Wild

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

St. Paul, Minn. — Obviously the All-Star break can’t come quick enough for the Red Wings.

For fans, too, who won’t have to watch these games for a week.

Such as Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Minnesota in the final game before the Wings go away for a short while — though, during the second period, it appeared mentally they had already drifted away to warm-weather destinations.

The Wings were outshot 15-5 in the second period — 10-0 at one point — and saw a 2-1 lead become a 4-2 deficit.

And they never recovered.

BOX SCORE: Wild 4, Red Wings 2

“We had some guys that weren’t ready to play at the start of the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It was a bit of fool’s gold through the first (period), some guys were going and some weren’t ready to go and it catches up to you as the game goes along — and it caught up to us.

“Then, we played stupid. We’ve talked about being an efficient team and making sure that when, especially in the second period, you need changes (off the ice) and you have to get pucks deep … when your brain’s not ready to (play), it’s really hard to catch up, and we had enough guys who weren’t ready to go.”

Which was shocking for Blashill, considering the way this season has gone.

“I didn’t have the concern (guys weren’t going to be ready to play) because I can’t imagine, fathom, how that could be possible with where we’re at and the number of games we’ve won (12),” Blashill said. “How do you let any game slip away at all? How do you not make sure you’re ready to go?

“But that wasn’t the case.”

The Wings (12-35-4) go into the break on a six-game losing streak, along with losing eight consecutive games on the road (they haven’t won a road game since Dec. 14 in Montreal and are 4-19-2 away from Little Caesars Arena).

No month has been kind to the Wings, but thus far in January, they’ve only earned five points, with a 2-7-1 record.

At least there are only 31 games left on the schedule when they return from the All-Star/bye week.

“I believe in my heart we’re in it for each other,” said forward Dylan Larkin, about the post-break schedule. “I know the guys in this room think that as well. The last half (of the season) we have to stick together and we have to work for each other.

“Let’s hope we’re at the worst of it and it gets better soon.”

Filip Zadina had both first-period Wings goals, one on a power play, and both off Wild defenders, for his seventh and eighth of the season.

Zadina had a team-high seven shots, with the two goals, in almost 21 minutes of ice time (20:51).

“Fil was actually a bright spot,” Blashill said. “He played pretty good, his game was complete.”

Similar to Larkin, Zadina feels it’s vital for the Wings to stay together as this season trudges toward its end.

“It’s tough, no one likes losing these games,” Zadina said. “It’s tough, but that’s what we’re going through as a team and we need to stick together and play good hockey, Just battle through.”

Jordan Greenway, Mats Zuccarello, Jason Zucker and Eric Staal scored for the Wild.

The Wild scored two goals a minute, seven seconds apart early in the second period, erasing the Wings’ lead.

Zuccarello put back a rebound off goaltender Jimmy Howard (29 saves), his 13th goal, tying the game 2-2. Then, just 67 seconds later, after a Robby Fabbri turnover near the middle of the ice, Zucker raced in on a 2-on-1, and snapped his 14th goal past a beleaguered Howard.

The Wild capped the onslaught when Staal flipped a loose puck in front of the crease at 11:39, Staal’s 17th goal.

“It was the start we were looking for, then we just took our foot off the gas,” Larkin said. “We got a little too comfortable and we let one in, then another a minute later. Howie was great again. If he wasn’t playing, or not on his game, it would have been worse than 4-2.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan