Red Wings shut out again vs. Flyers, suffer ninth consecutive setback
Detroit — Scoring goals has been a problem all season for the Red Wings.
But when you score none, as the Wings have done in these past two games, winning becomes impossible.
Philadelphia blanked the Wings 3-0 Monday at Little Caesars Arena, extending the Wings’ losing streak to nine games.
The Wings (12-38-4) have only scored more than two goals — they had three in a 6-3 loss to Colorado — once during the losing streak.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 28 saves and actually had one of his best games of the season, again getting little or no help offensively from his teammates to work with.
Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton scored his ninth goal at 9 minutes, 31 seconds of the second period, breaking the 0-0 tie, and Kevin Hayes added a short-handed goal in the third.
Matt Niskanen scored a short-handed empty net goal at 17:43 of the third period.
Flyers goalie Brian Elliott stopped 16 shots to earn his second shutout.
On the tiebreaking goal, Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg knocked Andreas Athanasiou — returning to the Wings lineup after missing 13 games with a lower body injury — off the puck along the boards.
The puck got to forward Michael Raffl who Laughton near the hashmark, and Laughton snapped a shot past Bernier.
Hayes added his short-handed goal, his 17th goal, at 2:47 of the third period, making it 2-0 Flyers.
With the victory the Flyers (29-17-7) moved into third place in the crowded Metropolitan Division, nudging past the tightly-packed wild-cards.
The Flyers are 9-0-2 in their last 11 games against the Wings.
“They’re a good team,” Athanasiou said after Monday’s morning skate. “They’re pushing for a playoff spot. Every game down the stretch is so important for every team. You want to go out there and give them a good, hard battle.”
Bernier, who is putting together a fine season in recent weeks, made a flashy glove save on Justin Braun and denied Raffl on a drive to the net midway in the third period, keeping the Wings within two goals.
The Wings didn’t give themselves much of a shot offensively simply because, well, they didn’t shoot the puck a lot, the 16 shots a season-low.
They only had five shots after one period, and added six in the second, before being limited to four in the third period.
But coach Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate that’s one of the Flyers’ keys to success — possessing the puck
“They have the puck a lot, that keeps you from the shots,” Blashill said. “They’re a very good team on the transition, especially from their own end, so that would be one area where teams would be a little gun-shy. They front pucks well, so you don’t get as many pucks to the cage, even though you might be shooting them.”
Ironically it was a Flyers’ breakaway goal in the first game between the teams this season
It happened again Monday, but different circumstances.
With the Wings on the power play early in the third period — Tyler Bertuzzi was clipped with a high stick — they had an opportunity to tie the score and generate positive momentum.
Instead, defenseman Dennis Cholowski couldn’t control a pass at the blue line, and Hayes gathered it for a breakaway.
Hayes beat Bernier glove side, and suddenly it was 2-0 Flyers and a Wings team lacking confidence and goals lately, was again staring at a difficult deficit.
Offense has been, and will likely continue to be an issue, considering the Wings' injury situation.
They did get Athanasiou back Monday — although he's struggled with only five goals this season — but played without Filip Zadina (eight goals) and Anthony Mantha (12 goals), Zadina who missed his first game after injuring himself over the weekend (he could miss about two weeks) and Mantha, who has been out since late December and isn't likely to return for several more weeks.
The Wings are off until traveling for back-to-back games in Buffalo (Thursday) and Columbus (Friday).