New York — If you were expecting a different looking Red Wings team coming out of that All-Star break, no such luck.
They pretty much looked like the Red Wings from most of this season Friday in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
The Red Wings rallied with two third-period goals, but it was after they trailed 4-0, and too large a deficit to overcome.
“They were on top of us, the ice tilted against us the first two periods,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They had more jump, they were cleaner with the puck and they were out of the zone quicker and caused us to defend way more.”
The time off may have been a factor, but the Rangers were off the same duration. So it was a level playing field from that perspective.
“It just looked like we were discombobulated all night until five minutes into the third period,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said.
That’s seven consecutive losses for the Wings, who are nearing the 12- and eight-game losing streaks they had earlier this season.
Robby Fabbri and Valtteri Filppula scored third-period goals, with Fabbri also drawing an assist on Filppula’s goal.
Valtteri Filppula talks about the Wings' 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. The Detroit News
“We’re giving up goals too easily,” said Filppula, who’ll play in his 1,000th career game Saturday, when the Wings host the Rangers at Little Caesars Arena. “The goalie is playing great, but we’re giving up too many Grade-A chances and good players score off those.
“We have to be better defensively.”
The Wings appear to have dodged a major obstacle after Dylan Larkin returned to start the third period after taking a Tyler Bertuzzi slap shot near the side of Larkin’s knee.
Larkin staggered to the bench while being tended to by trainer Piet Van Zant. Larkin appeared to modestly test the leg during a timeout with six minutes left in the period but decided to head to the locker room.
But Larkin returned to start the third period and skated a regular shift, and in fact, set up Fabbri's goal, while playing 18:34.
Dylan Larkin talks about getting hit by a puck on the side of his leg in the second period. The Detroit News
“Luckily everything is OK, just took a puck at a bad spot at the side of the leg where it’s a boney spot,” Larkin said. “It hit the nerve there, so I lost feeling and movement in my foot for a bit. That’s mainly the reason I had to get it looked at. Everything is OK.”
Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad (power play) had Rangers goals, as Howard stopped 35 of 39 shots.
Howard stopped all 15 Rangers shots in the first period, keeping the game 0-0.
“Howie bailed us out big time,” Larkin said.
Buchnevich and Kreider scored just under three minutes apart midway in the second period, quickly giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Buchnevich converted on a 2-on-1 feed from Zibanejad for his ninth goal, at 9:23, opening the game’s scoring.
Kreider then extended the lead to 2-0 with his 18th goal, at 11:56, deflecting Adam Fox’s shot from the point.
“Too much defending,” said Blashill of the Wings’ second period. “Jimmy had to be great in the first, or otherwise it could have looked like that in the first.”
Panarin’s goal with 41.9 seconds left in the second period capped the Rangers’ explosion and showed why the Rangers paid big money for the unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Panarin came down the wing, used an inside-out move around defenseman Alex Biega, then flicked a backhand shot past Howard for his 27th goal.
The Wings had no power plays the entire game, while the Rangers had three, with Zibanejad scoring his 19th goal on a third-period power play, making it 4-0.
“At the end of the day we weren’t dangerous enough,” said Blashill, describing the Wings’ offensive attack. “If you’re not dangerous, you’re not going to draw penalties.”